How does one get started doing this? Well I can only speak for me. It started oddly enough with a girl. I was seeing a girl (now my wife) that had told me she once owned a Leopard Gecko and how much she enjoyed this little lizard. I however was a cat or dog kind of pet guy. But after getting a nice big bonus at work I cave and we drove to Petsmart and picked out our little guy. I read everything I could get my hands on about Leo's and fell in love with them. Still to this day I have to stop at any table at an expo that has Leo's to look and dream. After about a year I got "the itch", I wanted another reptile pet but what? I wanted a snake; I looked at corn snakes, king snakes, Blood pythons, Carpet pythons, and Ball Pythons. I made up my mind a corn snake it was. So I found a privately owned pet store that carried snakes and asked to see some of the corns. The lady very nice and explained everything about them and how great of pets they were. She was pulling one in the middle of her speech when it tagged her finger. Now she didn't even flinch but for a first time snake owner that was a "HELL NO" for me. I was not owning a snake that bites ..Little did I know? I searched the net high and low and was torn between Bloods and Balls I wanted something that didn't get big and bloods I had read bite allot so Ball pythons it was. Again back to the same store for a Ball Python I picked out a male that I liked and they got me all the need equipment that pet stores sale to new owners 99.995% crap. I got it home got it set up and away I went. For three years I kept this male feeding it once a week cleaning its tank and taking it out ever so often of a play time.
I was happy!!! In my time of learning I found a small but helpful web forum www.ball-pythons.net they helped answer questions and keep me straight. I saw a picture of my first "Morph" in 2005 a "Pastel" I hated it I was against "morphs" breeding for a genetic mutation was to me cruel. I went like this for a year then in 2006 I saw the morph that started it all the "Piebald" wow and the price $8000.00 holy smokes, to own one of those how do I get that. I started learning about genetics and the morphs and combos. Then in the summer of 2006 July to be exact I found it my shot a 05 Het pied male. Wow that's all I needed right there. So in the midst of paying for a wedding and buying a house I talked my fiance' into letting me drop the coin on that one animal. With the understanding that I would get no more till we were wed and set in our new life. We married in Oct of 2006 and I had started writing a business plan. See I had talked to my father and he had agreed to hear my idea. I wanted to be a hobbyist breed to make a little extra money. I got prices on the morphs I wanted to work with, figured the cost and return on investment etc. Then in Jan of 2007 I got my eyes opened for me we drove 2 hours to meet Sean and Celia of Exotics by Nature. Two people that I am now lucky enough to call friends. I got to hold Lemon Blast's, Pied's, Clowns, Bees, G-Stripes, Pastels, Pins, you name it they had it. I picked through and figured out I needed pastels, spiders, and Mojave’s. We got our quote and three weeks later I drove back down to pick up my male and female Pastels, male spider and female Mojave. I was set! or so I thought.
I had plans now I had my first one, my het Pied, and my new group. I had more snakes than anyone I knew. Later I pick up some normal's along the way but nothing earth shattering. Well this year (2008) was my first year breeding and through it all I got two clutches. I'm looking forward to this coming season because of all the many things I have in the works. Since my first purchase I have grown in the number of animals from 6 to 31 with 5 more on the way this year. I got in on some new morphs like the Enchi and Fires, I picked up some hets for Pied and some double hets for Snow, I've added a few more pastels and also got a male Mojave to shoot for supers this year. I am adding Hypos and Albinos plus my ever growing number of normal's.
Needless to say that had you told me that in 2002 when I bought my Leo, who I still have and sits watching me from his tank as we speak, that I would be the owner/breeder of almost 50 snakes who's values is close to $50,000 and be the supplier of rats for most of the local snake owners in my area, I'd have laughed at you.
I have made incredible friends and learned so much. I am now a staff member of the forum that I joined so many years ago and now spend my spare time answering questions and helping solve problems. For people that are where I was not so long ago. This is without a doubt the best thing I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.
Now along with my younger brother overseeing the rodent production we have made this a family affair to be proud of for sure.