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  1. #1
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    Question Lots of Snakes Very Small for Their Ages: Breeder Red Flag?

    I've just gotten into snakes recently and am shopping around for my first ball python, possibly for breeding. I was looking at a female on Morph Market who was hatched in late 2018 and was only about 400 g. That seemed awfully low, so I emailed the breeder and asked if that weight was up-to-date. It was. Then I noticed that a lot of their balls were really small for their ages--both males and females over a year old and still under 500 g (some under 300 g). Even the adults over 4 years old were under 1,000 g. Does this sound like a red flag? What might cause this other than under-feeding?

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    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    I'm not keeping BPs currently so I don't "relate" to weights versus ages, but in general, I'd agree that under-feeding would be a red-flag for me, even though it's commonly done by breeders that don't want their animals to outgrow their "temporary" housing & neonate/hatchling "cuteness" as perceived by some buyers. for paying attention! (and some are just "cheap" about food too )
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 03-24-2020 at 11:01 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  4. #3
    Telling it like it is! Stewart_Reptiles's Avatar
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    I posted this a few hours ago so I will post it again

    Weight can vary greatly from one individual to another, depends on several factors, weight when hatched (some hatch at 45 grams some hatch a 90 grams) how fast they get started (some will start 2 weeks after shed some may start 6 to 8 weeks after shed), prey size (obviously the one starting at 45 grams will have smaller preys than those starting at 90 grams) feeding frequency, fast, genetics etc.

    Over the years I have seen animals in all ranges from animal that are 1000 grams at a year to some that are barely that by age 5, so while it would be under the average, there is more to it to the picture than the weight itself and the most important is the overall look and body proportions.

    A good average for a female that is grown slowly and not pushed or overfed would be about 500 grams per year in the course of the first 3 years of course it does not work out that way first because of what I mentioned above, and second because some people are in a rush to breed and feed their animals as much as they can as often as they can not looking at the big picture or the long run, and other people are feeding too conservatively aka maintenance feeding and finally you have the picky feeders.
    Last edited by Stewart_Reptiles; 03-24-2020 at 11:02 PM.
    Deborah Stewart

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    Re: Lots of Snakes Very Small for Their Ages: Breeder Red Flag?

    The sad thing is, many breeders will due the literal minimum required that they can get away with. They feed their snakes as little as possible, keep them in the barest of enclosures, etc. It's a business for many of them, and in business you cut costs as much as you can get away with. For your first time BP, I don't recommend going through mail order at Morph Market. What I WOULD recommend is going to a reptile expo or visiting a local breeder in person. You can find local morph market breeders here: https://www.morphmarket.com/us/stores/map/

    On top of getting to actually see the snake and its size (as well as check for mites or other health issues), you'll also get to see it's temperment. IMHO, the temperment of a snake is 1000x more important than the morph. Getting one that is healthy, curious, and easy to handle makes the world of difference. If a snake is neurotic or hissy, you can tell. Plus you'll get to meet (and judge) the breeders in person. Do they take care of their snakes? Is it a business or a passion? And beyond that, if you have any issues with your new friend, you'll know who to turn to.

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  8. #5
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    When in doubt, buy from a reputable breeder. Dr. Del posted 2 vids about that recently but for a pet keeper who is not breeding, buying from someone who has a good rep, responsive to your questions, eager to offer advice on any issues and keeps a food chart for their animals is who you should try to buy from. Like Deb mentioned, there are so many factors that determines weight to age. And keep in mind, there are breeders who power feed so they can breed and make their money back, so what you see on YouTube and such is not the true portrayal of what a ball python on a normal feeding schedule would look like. One important thing to note even if the snake is not powerfed, snakes in captivity on general are overfed because in the wild, they would be getting an easy, appropriate sized meal every week or biweekly.

    Almost all except 1 or 2 of my snakes were 'underfed' when I purchased them, I assume to save on costs and whatnot. But once I start feeding them the proper sized meal, they gained their ideal weight and shed a lot shortly after. So even if the snake you like from a reputable breeder appear to be small at first, in your care, it should thrive and grow to a healthy weight as an adult.

    A reputable breeder should be honest and transparent to answer any questions you have before you make the purchase.

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    LindseyinSoDak (03-28-2020)

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