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The Snake Keeper

How It All Started

ball pythonHow did you begin? That is a question people have asked us over the years. It is really a great question and one I thought was worth putting up on our site. When we married in 1988 we had three snakes. One ball python, Kashmire, which is still with us today and a pair of albino corn snakes. If I remember correctly the next two snakes were tangerine Honduran milk snakes. From there on who knows what was next. I remember wanting those milk snakes so bad I would dream about them. They were for sale in a pet store in Westlake Village California. Imports and we knew it, but back then not too many people were breeding these and we did not know better enough so we bought them. It was not long after their purchase that they died as they we filled with parasites. So that was our first lesson learned.

As the collection grew in our upstairs apartment we wanted to get into a house. So in 1989 we moved into a house and the collection of boas, kings, corns, milks, gophers, emerald tree boas, ball pythons, chameleons and geckos grew. That was when we began breeding rodents. Yes that’s right I have been cleaning rodent cages now for over 20 years every week. Any ways we met more and more like minded people and joined the Southwestern Herpetological Society. We eventually served on the board of SWHS and had some great experiences.

ball pythonSo now we were producing a fair number of snakes and we needed to be able to sell them. So we came up with our business name The Snake Keeper. We noticed that our local pet stores had no cool snakes in them for sale. We made a deal with them to put our snakes in their stores in our display cases. We would go there once a week and feed and clean the snakes. At that time we invoiced them for snakes that were sold. That was a win win deal for the pet stores. Captive breeding was on the rise and more snakes were making it to the pet stores for the general public to purchase. After doing this for a year and a half the collection was bigger than the house it seems. So we decided we had to move again.

Upon getting in the new house we were bitten by the Albino Ball Python bug. I mean I wanted one of those so bad, but they were way too expensive. But after a little time we worked out a crazy deal that involved a trade of our albino Hondurans, cash and some of our other milk snakes and acquired a pair of adult albino balls. It was a huge risk, but she produced every year for the next five years. Back then albinos were selling for $7,500.00 ea. We reinvested back into snakes and just kept doing that process and well we still do it today. After getting the albinos we decided to specialize in Ball Pythons. People thought we had totally lost our minds. They would tell us that we would never make money selling ball pythons as they had too many problems with feeding. Well that was fine with us and we had a vision. Back then there was only a handful of other breeders that shared that vision as well. So we sold off all of our other snakes and bought more ball pythons. Hypos, then known as ghosts, a caramel and an axanthic were the next three morphs for us. From there the rest is history. The world of ball pythons continues to grow every year. New morphs and new breeders make this a very exciting time to be in snakes.

ball pythonSince about 2000 we decided that we wanted a little more variety in our snake room. We expanded out in boas again and were successful. We have enjoyed these boas and have one of the most extensive Central American boa collections from what people tell me any ways. The small boa’s are amazing and we are seeing some real nice ones and they should only get better.

Having had ETB’s (Emerald Tree Boas) years ago we felt the need to go back and get some green snakes. We decided that the GTP’s (Green Tree Pythons) were irresistible. So we took some of the money we made on the ball pythons and invested it into GTP’s. The GTP’s in our collection are amazing. A new challenge to keep things exciting. They are so different and very beautiful. So the collection continues to grow in species kept and I think we have a few others we may still want to add. I guess when we do I will have to add a paragraph here.

So to sum it all up we started with three snakes on a newlywed budget living in an apartment. Bought what we could afford without taking out loans. Using money from the sold offspring to buy new additions to increase the size of the collection. We have followed that plan to this day. But now instead of a small apartment we have a commercial warehouse where we keep all the animals. So if you were wondering how to get started I would tell you the same thing. Buy what you can afford and be successful with what you buy. Sell offspring and reinvest your profit and you will see before long twenty years will have past and you will be a reptile breeder.