That escalated quickly

I gave up cornsnake breeding in 2008, after two rough breeding seasons that yielded pretty nice offspring, but also created circumstances that left me no choice but to end it there.

My snake breeding hobby was always somewhat self-sustained. I bred a small number of offspring, of which I kept only a select few. The sales of the ones I let go, then would pay for the food of the adults and remaining offspring. On a good season I would sell most offspring early and keep a small profit to invest in higher-end animals. This went alright for a couple of years, when the collection was small.

By 2005 and 2006 I had begun importing animals from US based breeders, something that wasn’t happening with cornsnakes so much in Europe at the time. It led me to import more special color variants, which increased the value of the breeding collection, and its size, obviously. By mid-2007 I had a collection of about 150 snakes, of which about fifty were breeding-sized cornsnakes. In 2007 I also began producing what I considered pretty cool stuff at the time. That year I was the only breeder in the world that had produced an ‘Sunkissed Anery Motley’. A combination of three cornsnake color/pattern genes that at the time had not been successfully created, and I somehow beat the 1/64 odds in the first twelve eggs the mother animal laid. In terms of breeding, 2007 was a great year.

In the high summer of 2007, a thermostat-regulated incubator in which I reared young fried a bunch of animals during a heatwave – including the special one. I was devastated. Unfortunately, on top of that, the economic crisis made it very hard to sell anything that year. People didn’t buy stuff, or certainly not my cornsnakes. I got stuck with the majority of animals I bred. Mouths to feed. I sold many of my non cornsnakes off, to be able to feed the young ones. I did so for ridiculous prices. The market was not on my side. In 2006, I had also started studying, which was financially tough, as I had only minimal student income. Fair to live off, but not to sustain a snake collection. All things combined things weren’t looking good. I was forced to sell my last cornsnakes in 2008 to a wholesale deal, for substantially less than I had acquired them for. There was no choice. I couldn’t afford to feed them any longer. I had to reduce to a number I could still sustain. All that remained was a small collection of fewer than ten snakes, several ball pythons and some venomous snakes that were not for breeding.

My cornsnake breeding days were over.

Most of the years that passed, I’ve still kept some snakes, lizards or various arthropods. Cornsnakes always kept a special place in my heart. They’re beautiful snakes. I love the genetics and the excitement of eggs hatching without knowing what’s inside.

I told myself no for thirteen years, which is a crazy long time.

Last year, the financial security of having a job for at least the next couple of years, combined with an old cornsnake buddy of mine being too active on Instagram made it so that I couldn’t resist.

Since last August, I have re-assembled a collection of 27 cornsnakes (and two Chinese beauty snakes, but they don’t count).

I’ll admit. I went all out. But I had some catching up to do, and the market now had beautiful new color morphs and combinations at more affordable prices. Maybe it helped that I am no longer living off student income.

I figured that I’d buy young hatchlings, and simply raise them to adulthood, and I would see what happens then. However, it takes at least two, but often three years to raise a cornsnake to adulthood.

Three years is a long time.

I am very impatient….

A beautiful trio of adult cornsnakes with great genetics* caught my attention recently.

What should I do? Let them be taken by someone else…? Forget it. I bought them – if that wasn’t obvious.

The new animals are great, and will produce even greater offspring, at least that’s the idea.

This morning I introduced the female to the male, and in a matter of minutes they were cuddling. Locked together for an hour or so. Sexy time now could mean eggs in a couple of weeks!

It feels good to be back!

Crappy picture of the pair, about three quarters of an hour in…

* they’re Lava heterozygous for Cinder Diffused, if you were wondering

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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