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Old 03-27-18, 11:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Reptile career?

So I wasnít sure where to post this, but I donít think it matches any of the other topics.... So, Iím finishing up my high school years of school, and I want to work with reptiles for a living/career. My idea is to either start a small reptile breeding business myself, or join a reptile breeding business. Iím not sure how to go about doing either of those, or which is a better idea. So Iíd like some input on what you guys think. Which of those options is better? And how should I go about doing one? I live in ocala, and there isnít much reptile-centered jobs here...
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Old 03-27-18, 12:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile career?

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So I wasnít sure where to post this, but I donít think it matches any of the other topics.... So, Iím finishing up my high school years of school, and I want to work with reptiles for a living/career. My idea is to either start a small reptile breeding business myself, or join a reptile breeding business. Iím not sure how to go about doing either of those, or which is a better idea. So Iíd like some input on what you guys think. Which of those options is better? And how should I go about doing one? I live in ocala, and there isnít much reptile-centered jobs here...
The biggest mistake people make now considering reptiles as a business is thinking they can work part-time and make full-time self-employment income. At one point in time this was possible but those times are no longer. It was essentially the old gold rush and everyone was profiting with little effort.

Now you have to look at it as a full-time small business venture. How much capital do I have? How much do I need? Do I need to rent space? How much space? How much is the space? How much equipment do I need? Etc.

It's a huge undertaking and the reason people fail is they forget it's a business and don't make prudent business decisions.

Example: A friend of mine owns a reptile pet store. A couple years ago he brought in "cool stuff" that everyone liked seeing in his store but he couldn't sell the things! So it didn't matter that they were worth $2000 it's the fact nobody wants rare, uncommon lizards for $2000. They all want bearded dragons. He didn't make a wise business decision that time.
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Old 03-27-18, 12:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile career?

Well, if you plan to make a living at this, you might want to contact some of the breeders and get their input on it. Like any business that deals with live plants or animals, there is ALWAYS a risk of significant loss which can be VERY expensive. There's a saying that many old dairy farmers use which goes; "If you have live stock, sooner or later, you're going to have dead stock." I highly recommend that you start by contacting some breeder in your area and see if you can volunteer to assist them for a summer to get an idea of what it means to run a breeding operation. Another option would be to work for a local zoo if they have a reptile house. If you don't start by working for someone else, then plan on working a "real" job and starting small with your future business as you learn and grow your business. Some people would tell you that the way to make a million dollars in the reptile business is to start with two million and soon you will have one million. Start small and take the time to learn both the husbandy end of the business as well as the business end and the marketing side. Good luck!
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Old 03-27-18, 01:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile career?

Then after high school, why not follow into Biology and specialize in Zoology. Then work in an established business to gain experience how a business is actually ran before venturing off on your own and probably fail?

Ps. despite what you may think, this is only a profitable business for a handful of people. The majority of folks do reptile breeding next to a full time job, simply because they like it, and actually run at a loss or maybe break even. If you're serious in wanting to work with animals of any kind in a professional career... Zoology is what you'll want to learn. Basically it will teach you husbandry/care for captive animals.
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Old 03-27-18, 03:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile career?

aside from the reptile front, owning a small business is no joke. You had better be sure you have good customer service, budgeting, and bookkeeping skills. Also do some looking into tax law and if its worth it to get into an LLC or something. I have known several small business owners and it is easy to work very hard for not much sustainable money if you dont do it right.
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Old 03-27-18, 03:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile career?

Santa Fe College in Gainesville, FL, has a zoo program, complete with a teaching zoo. It might be place to start to gain an education related to what you are interested in doing. If you want to make a business of reptile, meaning your own business, you can add some business courses. I know of a few folks who graduated from there and went on to work with reptiles. Actually, my sister was one. She got her first job out of school specifically because she was willing to work with reptiles.
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Old 03-27-18, 08:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile career?

Leah, go to college, get a degree business/finance. Learn how to run a business (successfully) before you attempt. Keep your passion for reptiles alive by perhaps breeding a few species on the side during this time. So many people try to open a small business and fail. You will need something that not only generates an income, but allows for retirement contributions (this will become frighteningly important as time goes by). Most small businesses fail. Those that do succeed typically operate about 28-36 months without profit. I developed, opened up and ran a medical clinic for about 8 yrs. It took about 22 months before I saw a paycheck. If you have that kind of operating capital to float your living expenses for 2-3 yrs and you have a cast-iron stomach (lots of stomach acid churned out), then you may do ok.

Re-read several of these posts over and over. Aaron is spot on.. your business is driven on volume. You will not sell very many $800 widgets, even more rare will be the $2000 sale. Most pet stores make their profit (slim margins, by-the-way) or the $0.99 Goldfish sales and dog food. You rarely see the $2000 parrot sell. Unfortunate, but true.
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Old 03-28-18, 02:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile career?

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Originally Posted by TRD View Post
Then after high school, why not follow into Biology and specialize in Zoology. Then work in an established business to gain experience how a business is actually ran before venturing off on your own and probably fail?

Ps. despite what you may think, this is only a profitable business for a handful of people. The majority of folks do reptile breeding next to a full time job, simply because they like it, and actually run at a loss or maybe break even. If you're serious in wanting to work with animals of any kind in a professional career... Zoology is what you'll want to learn. Basically it will teach you husbandry/care for captive animals.
This is good advice
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Old 03-29-18, 08:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile career?

Everything that's posted here is the best advice for you. Especially the remaining in school, going to college and getting your degree/s. Your business foundation will be very important. Remain steadfast in your goals, and join your local state herpetological society and attend meetings. Talk to reptile keepers, breeders, attend reptile expos and all around fellowship will all be helpful. Don't get discouraged bc most businesses operate at a loss early on in the establishment phase. Good luck and welcome to the forum.
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Old 03-29-18, 10:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile career?

Thanks for all the input! I really do appreciate it! I will definitely look into joining the herpetological society. I’ve been wondering how I can get more involved in reptiles in general. I’m homeschooled, and the only one in my family who loves reptiles. And I don’t know ANYONE who loves/likes reptiles... it would be nice to know some other reptile “junkies” lol
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Old 03-29-18, 06:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile career?

Lots of things you could do but I would suggest dipping your toes in on a small scale and get to know each niche first. Chances are you'll change your mind a few times along the way before you find where you feel comfortable.

Things to investigate:
-Branding your own reptile supplies. You'll need to work with people in China for plastics or Pakistan for stainless. You'll need around 1k to get started because the shipping is kind of expensive.
-breeding insects and/or rodents. I breed my a lot of my own insects and some of my own rodents for my animals but I've started selling some excess locally. Ironically, I also buy some things from other local breeders that I don't produce myself. I actually just worked out a deal to get all of my frozen rodents locally too at less than the bulk shipped prices.
-Of course there are still to this day pet shops.
-Of course there is always importing, flipping, and breeding reptiles. I would start slow and spend a few years getting to understand the market before doing these on a larger scale. To do the animals justice you really need a good deal of experience, not to mention understand the niche markets can you give you an advantage.

There are people making good money doing all of the above. The question then always has to be how to succeed at something. There are people getting rich selling used books for example. When I first looked at that market, I couldn't imagine anyone making any real money at it. Like anything most people who try it will fail. The best way to be successful at anything is talking to people who are successful doing that very thing and a lot of it comes down to how bad you want it, how much though and planning you're willing to put in, and if you're willing to make whatever changes are required to succeed. Remember it is not the strongest who survive but the most adaptable.
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