From The Top
Let me start by asking you a question. Have you ever been sat at your day job, going through your daily routine on autopilot and then suddenly returned to reality and asked yourself "what the hell am I doing here"?
I was sat at my station, gently tapping small pieces of rock with a pestle and mortar over and over again. Then tipping the contents through a number of sieves to trap the dust which was not too coarse and not too fine. I was in my own little world, quite content to be getting on with my task until something in my mind went "PING".
I stopped, looked around me, looked down at my bowl of dusty rock bits and thought "is this really what I want to say was my career when I'm old and retired? Do I really want to turn round to the parents of my children's friends when asked what I do for a living and say I wash rocks and turn them into dust? Or do I want to say that I am living my dream, breeding snakes?"
I had been chatting to a fellow breeder recently, seeking his advice about breeding my own supply of snake food. I'd read it was a good way to save a bit of money and I'd mentioned that I'd like to get to a point where I was self sufficient. What he said changed my entire perspective on things, much to the dismay of my wife, even though she was extremely relieved not to have a shed full of rats being erected (love you Helen x).
As a breeder and supplier of rodents himself, for me, this guy knows what he's talking about and any advice he gives is worth it's weight in gold!
He told me in no uncertain terms that when you take into account set up costs and the monthly feed bill just to sustain even a small colony of rats, I'd be paying a lot more money than I am currently. When I stepped back and actually thought about it I realised he was absolutely right. What he said next though was the game changer. He said instead of investing the extra money into rodents, why not invest it into building up your stock of breeding pythons? He said that everyone from the get go will tell you that you can't make a living from breeding snakes but that is a myth. It's possible to make a very healthy living from them but you have to work for it.
Again I took a step back and let that information process. What he said made sense but was it actually achievable for someone like me?
I've thought about it a lot. I've done a lot of research, reading up on success stories and heeding advice. I sat back, pondered some more and concluded that yes, it is extremely possible. Yes, a lot of work needs to go into it but it's all really just common sense stuff. If you believe from the start that it's not going to make you a living then you are going to fail. I was brainwashed too but now I see clearly what needs to be done and how to do it.
Last night I sat at the kitchen table and did some sums. I have bred one pair of Royal Pythons for the past two years. I used the offspring they produced over both years to generate an average value for a clutch from them. I then worked out exactly how much it costs me to feed my snakes for a year based on the assumption that all of them ate every week without fail.
Guess what I discovered? The average income from those two snakes alone was enough to feed all my snakes for an entire year and leave me with change.
Now these two snakes are nothing particularly special, they're certainly not blasting out clutches worth thousands of pounds. In fact the average was a little over £500. Imagine if one of my other females popped out a clutch worth around £500. Yeah there'd be extra babies to feed but that wouldn't increase the food bill by much at all so I'd be left with even more change. Now imagine if I used that money to invest in snakes that would increase the value of my clutches.
I know, I can hear you saying there are other expenditures to take into account and you're right. I'm just keeping this very simple for now. But you just think about how much these other things actually cost and factor them into your calculations and I'm sure you'll reach the same conclusion as me.
Anyway, to continue...
If two breeding pairs can provide me with enough money to feed my snakes for a year and still have money to play with then why on earth are people telling you you can't make a living from breeding? Of course you can and it's really very simple. You just need to be smart with your money and choices on what you produce, work hard with your marketing and self promotion and the sales will come. But above everything else you need to care for your snakes! Ensure they are the healthiest animals you have ever seen. I can't stress this enough, healthy, well cared for animals will pay off in more ways than you can imagine.
I didn't sit here and think for one second that I'd like to become a breeder to make a profit. No, I chose to become a breeder because I am fascinated by the diversity of animals that Royal Pythons can produce. The beauty of these animals is absolutely astounding. I just asked the question of whether it was possible for them to sustain themselves financially. When I found out that I could make a living from doing something I love however, it's a no brained really. The only thing stopping me is myself. I have the power to live my dream every single day and I'm going to harness it and I'm taking you along for the ride to show you that it can be done.
I don't have anyone to speak to about snakes at home. They're not Helen's thing and that's absolutely fine. I get very excited when it comes to snakes however to the point I feel like I'm going to burst if I don't talk to someone. This blog will be my outlet. Even if no one reads it, I've allowed myself to release some pressure. If people do read it then I hope you find this beneficial for following your own dreams. And if my beautiful wife Helen reads this, I hope it gives you an insight into how my mind works. I know I'm not very good at explaining myself verbally but I'm bloody good at rambling when typing so that's got to be some help.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to the next installment. Take care.
Gareth (Powys Pythons)