Breeding ball pythons for profit.
It sounds like a fever dream, but it’s 100% possible. Take it from me, the other half of a 2-person team of a ball python breeding company.
Over the years we have profited about $14,000 selling ball pythons as a side hustle. While working our 9-5s, we have built a business breeding ball pythons and now we want to teach you how.
We adopted a ball python from a reptile convention, fell in love, then created a ball python breeding side hustle in 2017.
Since then we have learned so much about ball python breeding that we are ready to share it with you. This guide will go over the tips and tricks (that took us 7 years to learn) all in one place.
Get all the juicy details on how you can start breeding ball pythons in this step-by-step guide you can follow yourself.
- Step 1: Choose your ball pythons
- Step 2: Raise them to maturity
- Step 3: Pair them on a schedule
- Step 4: Watch for ovulations
- Step 5: Prepare your incubator
- Step 6: Check for eggs
- Step 7: Separate eggs from female
- Step 8: Add eggs to the incubator
- Step 9: Pair ball pythons again
- Step 10: Market your ball pythons
Step 1: Choose your ball pythons
First and foremost you’ll need at least 2 ball pythons; one male and one female.
Most people that want to breed ball pythons already have one so you’re already ahead of the game.
The reason choosing your ball pythons is an entire step is because there are thousands of different morphs to choose from in the ball python world.
Ball pythons don’t have any subspecies, but they do have variations called morphs. A ball python morph is a gene or combination of genes that create a ball python’s colors and patterns.
Your ball python’s morph is important to think about because it’s the foundation of your breeding. The morph also determines the value of the babies that you’ll hatch.
They’re also good to understand because some ball python morphs can’t breed because of the chance of fatalities or birth defects in their offspring.
What to consider when choosing ball pythons to breed:
- Morph – a ball python morph is important to consider because it determines your baby snake’s value in the market. It can also help you deter birth defects or fatal combinations.
- Age/Weight – Sexually mature ball pythons are more expensive than hatchling ball pythons because they are ready to breed and someone already raised them for you.
- A hatchling ball python needs about 2 years and several feedings before it can start breeding. We’ll talk more about that in Step 2
- How many males vs females – 1 male and 1 female is all you need to start breeding ball pythons, but you can breed 1 male to several female ball pythons to maximize your return on investment.
Step 2: Raise them to maturity
Most ball python beginners get a ball python as a hatchling. Unfortunately, ball pythons aren’t ready to breed as soon as they hatch.
Every ball python breeder handles ball python maturity differently, but according to the top ball python breeders, this is the consensus.
A male ball python is sexually mature when he weighs around 700 grams. They usually weigh this much around 16-18 months old.
TIP: Feed your ball python regularly, but don’t overfeed or “power feed” to avoid obesity in your snake.
A female ball python takes a little bit longer to be sexually mature. Ball python breeders usually wait until the female reaches 1200 grams after about 2-3 years(no younger than 18 months old).
Remember that the larger the female ball python is, the better her eggs will be and the healthier she’ll be after laying them.
Also, note that laying eggs takes a large toll on the female ball python so it’s better to wait until it’s safe than to put her through stress by breeding her too young or too small.
Step 3: Pair them on a schedule
Once your ball pythons are mature enough, they are ready to be paired up and introduced.
Pairing your ball pythons is one of those moments when you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.
The sign your looking for is a tail lock which is the ball pythons’ tails getting entangled while sperm is released to the female.
Male and female ball pythons should be paired together on a schedule. During the breeding season, we will pair a male with a female for 1 day out of the week and let them rest for the next 6 days.
Every breeder has their preference for how long ball pythons stay paired up, but the 1:6 day ratio works best for us.
This gives them a chance to lock and won’t stress either ball python out by being together for too long.
The reason we pair the snakes on schedule is so that they don’t go into the breeding mode to the point where they wear themselves out. It also gives them a chance to eat individually and not in the same enclosure.
Male ball pythons get so focused on breeding that they’ll stop eating just to conserve energy for breeding.
Although this is great for the best chance of fertilizing the female ball python’s eggs, it’s not great for the male who can lose a significant amount of weight during this period.
Watch for a lock
Ball pythons will lock tails for several hours when the male ball python releases sperm to the female ball python.
This is a great sign that your ball python will eventually lay eggs.
The tail lock isn’t a sure sign that your ball python will be gravid which is why you should look for other signs that your ball python will lay soon.
Female ball pythons have the ability to retain sperm and not fertilize their eggs
Step 4: Watch for ovulations
After a few weeks of pairing your male and female ball python together, lookout for signs of ovulation in your female ball python.
There are several ways to check if your ball python has an ovulation.
If you’re on a budget, visual signs of ovulation are your best bet.
Signs of ovulation:
- Bowl wrapping
- Soaking in water
- Rejecting food
- Lumpy lower section
Another way to tell if a ball python is gravid is with an ultrasound machine. Ultrasound machines are a popular item for big time ball python breeders because they allow you to see and monitor egg follicle growth.
The downside of using an ultrasound machine is that it is expensive. Unless you’re planning to run a full-time business with your ball pythons, it’s probably not worth investing in.
The top benefit of using an ultrasound machine is that you don’t have to play a guessing game of whether your ball python is gravid.
Sometimes it’s hard to catch an ovulation or when you do, you’re not sure if it’s the right sign.
I know from experience that the guessing game is no fun because a ball python can show signs of ovulation and follicle growth, but then reabsorb their eggs…yes reabsorb. Another fun super power ball pythons have.
Step 5: Prepare your incubator
- Incubation temperature 88-90 degrees
- Humidity 90-100%
- Time 55-60 days
The most important part of successfully hatching ball python eggs is the incubator. The incubator helps regulate temperature and keeps in humidity while the ball pythons grow.
Successful incubation takes place in a warm and humid environment.
It takes 55-60 days for the eggs to hatch after they’re laid and an incubator does that the safest way possible.
Hatching the eggs in an incubator gives them the best chance of survival since you have control the environment and you can create the perfect conditions.
Female ball pythons know how to incubate their eggs, however, an unofficial experiment by Brian Borczyk proved that ball-python-led incubation leaves too much room for error.
He allowed one of his ball pythons to incubate her own eggs to full term and a few didn’t make it.
Plenty of things can go wrong if a mother snake incubates her own eggs. The eggs could roll over, one could get left out, and the temperature fluctuates a lot more in an enclosure than an incubator.
Ball python incubators are not easy to come by. Most incubators are meant for chicken eggs, not reptiles. The reptile incubators that are available(online) are too small for ball python eggs.
If you plan on only hatching 1 clutch at a time, the incubators online are perfect to purchase. Bigger incubators are available, but they are mostly used in labs for science. These incubators can easily cost thousands of dollars.
The best option for handling your first few clutches of ball python eggs is to make an incubator yourself.
An old fridge is perfect to convert into an incubator since they are insulated and you don’t need the motor to work. You’ll have to add heat which can easily be added.
There are a few tutorials online on how to convert a refrigerator into an incubator, but it’s mostly a matter of adding a heat source like heat tape.
Along with the incubator you’ll need egg boxes. The egg boxes help keep the humidity high around the eggs.
We use plastic shoe boxes for ours and they’ve worked great so far.
TIP get your incubator ready before your eggs come so you’re not scrambling to get it together.
Step 6: Check for eggs
Once you’ve paired your ball pythons and you see signs of ovulation start checking for eggs frequently.
Your ball python should lay eggs around 30 days after a pre-lay shed.
Ball pythons will lay an average of 7 eggs. They can lay up to 11 eggs (sometimes more) and they’ll quickly adhere together once they’re laid.
Not all eggs will stick together though. Some could separate from the clutch and roll around. If that happens, just make sure the embryo is at the top of the egg by shining a flashlight through the egg.
Congratulations you’re almost there.
Step 7: Separate eggs from female
Now it’s time to take the eggs.
Mama ball python will be wrapped around her pile of eggs ready for incubation, but for the best chance of survival, we’ll have to separate them.
Make sure your ball python is done laying eggs before removing them. You can check this by looking at her belly and making sure there are no lumps which could be a stuck egg.
Carefully get the eggs from the enclosure.
We find it best to soak the female and clean out her enclosure while you remove the eggs. This will help remove the scent of eggs from her enclosure so she won’t spend too much time searching for them.
Step 8: Add eggs to the incubator
As we’ve said before, the eggs need to go into an egg box before putting them in the incubator.
The egg box should stay humid, but no water should touch the eggs or you’ll risk them growing mold.
You can use a mixture of perlite, vermiculite, and a little bit of water to keep humidity without sitting water touching the eggs.
Our egg box setup is a plastic shoebox that is perfect for keeping humidity and just large enough to fit a clutch of eggs. We use 100% perlite with a light diffuser separating the eggs from the wet perlite.
We make sure the eggs stay in a single layer without touching the lid of the box nor the sides to prevent moisture buildup from condensation.
As long as the temperatures and humidity stay consistent your eggs should hatch in about 55 days.
You can cut ball python eggs before they hatch. Here’s how.
Step 9: Pair ball pythons again
Your ball pythons are ready to pair again after the female has a few meals and puts on weight again.
It’s best not to pair them up right away since their breeding can affect their feeding schedule, but once you get them back to a healthy size, they are ready to breed.
I usually wait until the next breeding season to start the proces over again.
Step 10: Market your ball pythons
This last step is optional, but without it, you’ll end up with lots of little ball pythons to care for and no one to buy them.
Market your ball pythons and find people that want them. Ball pythons are in demand all the time especially by other ball python breeders.
Make sure people know you have ball pythons for sale by listing them online.
Some places you can sell your ball pythons include:
I use all of the above places to sell ball pythons so you just have to find the one that’s for you and fits your needs.
You can even make deals with your local pet store and let them know you’ll have ball pythons for sale and when you expect them. This is how we make the most sales because pet stores will usually want ball pythons in bulk.
Breeding ball pythons is one of the most rewarding hobbies out there. Creating life and mixing morphs is such an adventure and incredible to see.
There are so many combinations you can create and so much we’ve learn that we’ve sustained it over several years.
With so many morphs out there, no two ball python breeders are alike and there is always a market for them.
Even if you don’t sell your ball pythons for profit, it’s a hobby that pays for itself.
As long as you follow these 10 steps you can successfully breed ball pythons. To see our journey and learn more about ball python breeding check out our other socials HERE.