I promised that I would do a post explaining more about our family’s snakes. I know some of you are probably freaked out that we have them. I get that all the time. My mother-in-law is actually horrified. (That almost makes me like them more!) I’ve had a lot of people, in jest (or not; it’s sometimes hard to tell because they want it to sound like they’re kidding when they’re not. I know I’ve read a blog post about that.) Okay. Sorry. I get sidetracked a lot. Anyway, I’ve had a lot of people tell me, ‘Whoa, I don’t think I’m coming to your house anymore!’ It’s okay. (I don’t like having visitors that much anyway. No! I’m just kidding!) I understand your fears. I was pretty terrified and grossed out by them before we got them. And truthfully, even after we got the first few.
I’ll back up a little to explain how we got started. Before I met my husband, he shared an apartment with some guy that had a snake (or snakes, plural, I’m not sure which.) Hubby thought they were cool so he got some. Lots of different ones. He had your standard ball pythons, but he also had boa constrictors, blood pythons, a sand boa and borneos. (His mother has many horror stories of his snakes from the apartment, but I finally learned that she never went into his apartment after he got them, so I think she’s just trying to scare me. I’d heard the actual course of events from Hubby before her renditions.) When he built his first house and moved into it, he sold his snake collection.
About three years ago we started having trouble with our daughter’s behavior. She was talking too much in class and not being a good listener here at home for us. It was going downhill in a hurry. The summer in between her 2nd and 3rd grade years, Hubby suggested we find a family hobby. Something we can all do together and have fun with. And naturally, he already had snakes in mind. At first I said no way, snakes are gross. He continued talking about it and telling me all the different color and pattern morphs, or genetic differences, among ball pythons. He talked about how people buy and sell them all over the world, sometimes for a a lot of money.
I came around and we started with two ball pythons that were 100% het albino. (Meaning they carried the gene for albino.) I’ll never forget the night Hubby brought them home. He had gone to a breeder in a neighboring state and bought them. He got one out of the container it was in to show me before he put it in it’s cage. He kept walking closer to me and I kept walking backwards until he had me pressed up against the cabinets and I couldn’t go back any further. He held it there in front of me and while I didn’t touch it, I could see it wasn’t going to jump on me and try to eat me.
After a while of being around them and watching them and finally handling them, I gave Hubby the go ahead to get more. And it exploded from there. Now we’re hovering right around 60, although we have been up as high as 70-75. We go to a reptile show in a suburb of Chicago every year and have had snakes shipped to us (they get overnighted on planes and delivered FedEx or UPS) from different parts of the country. (Although we get the majority from breeders within driving distance, even if that means driving 7 hours one way.)
We still have just ball pythons, but Hubby has made noises about wanting different species. I’m not ready for that though. Oh, and Kat mentioned what they eat. Yes, most of them eat rats, but we have a few picky ones that will only eat mice. We try to have our snakes eat rats that have been frozen (which we then warm up to an appropriate temperature), but again there are some that are just too finicky and will only eat live. So, we do have a few small cages with live rats or mice too. That’s probably the worst part about having the snakes.
I no longer worry about them hurting me or anything like that. They have teeth similar to fish; like bumpy cartilage or something. Hubby has gotten bit a few times, but wears it almost like a badge of honor. I think he feels more manly when it happens or something. The bigger ones of course, pack a little more power when they bite, but I don’t think they would ever do serious damage. About the worst time was one of our bigger females mistook Hubby’s hand for a rat and tagged him. He had some blood run down his arm, but the next day, you could barely see where the marks had been. The big ones don’t bite very often though. The little ones can be pretty nippy, but they’re so small, you hardly notice. I got bit once by a hatchling and I actually asked the snake, “Did you just bite me?!” because it happened so fast, I wasn’t sure.
We hatch whatever eggs we get each year in incubators and sell the babies once they have hatched. Sometimes we sell through forums and our website and other times we sell to other breeders we know. Occasionally, we will sell the less valuable ones to pet stores, but we try to sell to the customer directly. I’ve included some pictures of a few in our collection.