Administering Meds for Ball Python Respiratory Infections

The winter season seems to be the time of year when some ball pythons develop respiratory infections. Respiratory infections or “RI” can develop if room temperatures in your home reach low levels or if the ball python tank is placed in an area that’s colder than normal (on the floor, near a window, etc). RI can also come about from stress, dirty or damp cage, pine or cedar substrate, etc. because these conditions can cause an infection of the respiratory system. Being diligent of good husbandry practices during the winter season and making sure the “hot spot” in your ball pythons’ tank is optimum will reduce the chance of your animal coming down with RI.

It’s good practice to pay closer attention to your ball python during the winter season and look out for any symptoms of RI, sooner rather than later. Symptoms of RI include a wheezing or clicking sound when your ball python is breathing, bubbles appearing from the nostrils on the top of its head or a gaping mouth with thick bubbly saliva. Some ball pythons may not exhibit these symptoms and still have RI. A practice that I employ is to remove the ball python from its’ cage and hold it upside down vertically with its head facing the floor. Gravity will pull thick stringy mucous out of the ball python’s mouth to the floor. I stumbled onto this strategy by chance when I was cleaning cages a few years back.

The very first thing you need to do if you notice any symptoms of RI is to contact your reptile veterinarian right away! You can find vets that are local to you based on your zip code at this link - Reptile & Herp Veterinarians. The next thing to do after you’ve contacted your vet and made an appointment is to check the hotspot and increase it to at least 95F and make sure the cage and water are both clean. The extra heat will help your ball python fight the infection.

Your vet will more than likely prescribe Baytril, Tylan (Tylosin) or Amakacin as the medication of choice to help clear up the infection. He or she will also show you how to administer the medicine since he or she will medicate it first and you’ll have to continue administering the meds for the duration of treatment. Oral or injections are the two common ways of administering meds to ball pythons so pay close attention and watch carefully since you’ll have to repeat the process on your own. Don’t be bashful or shy if you have a question or are unsure of something. Your vet will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

We have many snakes and a terrific long term relationship with our vets so instead of having to go to the vet for issues that aren’t life threatening, we pretty much have all the necessary meds in bulk that’s needed to treat ball pythons in-house. Before you ask, we cannot and will not provide any meds to people since we are not licensed vets and do not have the authorization to distribute meds. We’ve been granted a privilege from our vets that allow us to purchase meds in bulk for our own use. I pointed this out to you so you’d understand based on the photos that follow how and why we have meds that you’ll only see in a vet’s office.

Baytril medication used for ball pythons
Baytril medication used for ball pythons
Baytril medication used for ball pythons
Baytril medication used for ball pythons
Syringes used to administer Baytril medication to ball pythons
Syringes used to administer Baytril medication to ball pythons

Baytril is usually the first choice of medication prescribed by vets for RI in ball pythons so I wanted to discuss briefly the proper way to administer Baytril if you have to inject your ball python via a syringe. The renal vascular system of the ball python dictates that the injection site must be in the upper third portion of the body. The photo that follows gives you a good idea of the safe injection site.

Upper third section of ball python for injection site
Upper third section of ball python for injection site

Your vet will more than likely give you syringes pre-filled with the correct dosage based on the weight of your animal. The dosage of Baytril for ball pythons is usually 10/mg per kg (1,000 grams) of body weight. When you inject your ball python under a scale you need to guide the syringe alongside the body as depicted in this photo.

Proper syringe direction for ball python
Proper syringe direction for ball python

An inch or so below the spine into the muscle and alongside the body is the proper route of the syringe. A noticeable bulge will develop at the injection site and a slight discharge of the medicine will occur from the site as well - this is completely normal and to be expected. Alternate the injection site every time you administer meds via a syringe. Right side, left side, right side and so on each time you have to inject your ball python with meds. Do not guide the syringe on a downward angle as this can cause serious damage and possibly puncture the lung. The following photo depicts the angle that can cause serious life threatening damage.

Improper syringe direction for ball python
Improper syringe direction for ball python

If you’ve completed your final administration of meds and your ball python still has RI, you need to contact your vet right away. He or she will more than likely try a different medicine to see if it will be more effective at treating the infection.

In conclusion, as noted above and reiterated here again, observe how your vet is administering the meds and ask them any questions you might have when you’re there with your ball python. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask your vet.

My Ball Python looks different. Is it more than just a Normal?

This is a very common question I’ve seen not only in our ball python forum but in other ball python forums as well. Someone has a ball python that they’ve acquired from a source other than a breeder – pet store, a friend, etc – and they want to know if they’ve miraculously “hit the lottery” and have something other than a normal ball python. The general theme is usually the same, “it looks different, is lighter or darker in color, the pattern looks unique, etc.”

Normal or “wild-type” ball pythons are what nature intended ball pythons to look like. They have a combination of dark colors and patterns to help break up their outline so they can camouflage themselves or blend in better with the scenery. This color and pattern ensemble is what helps them succeed in hunting and capturing prey in the wild. Ball python morphs on the other hand are the result of “mutations” in the DNA structure that changes or “morphs” the animals’ physical appearance in such a way that it differs significantly from ordinary normal or wild type ball pythons. These morphs exhibit an unusual color and/or pattern that distinguish them from a normal or wild type ball python. An albino ball python is an excellent reference that comes to mind but there are some morphs that require a trained eye to identity such as the “Yellow belly” ball python for instance.

albino ball python
Albino ball python

Ball pythons originate from varying parts of Africa and some ball pythons have a different look to them that’s based on locale and genetic background. No two ball pythons look exactly alike and no two ball pythons share the same pattern. Some are lighter than others and some have very interesting patterns but they’re all still considered to be normal or wild-type ball pythons, unless otherwise proven differently. The rise in popularity of the ball python morph has caused a massive influx of people wanting to acquire ball python morphs and this level of interest has many people wondering if their “unique looking” normal ball python is more than just a pretty normal ball python.

Most of the ball pythons that people acquire from sources other than a breeder are more than likely imported normal ball pythons. Just like you’re reading my blog right now on the Internet, people in Africa too have Internet access and know about ball python morphs and their values as well. This has caused the exporters in Africa to look over each ball python “with a fine tooth comb” to make sure it’s not a visual morph (i.e. Pastel, Mojave, Lesser Platinum, etc) before preparing them for export as “normal ball pythons”. Once the ball pythons reach the country they’re imported into, the receiver looks at each ball python “with a fine tooth comb” hoping to find a morph that the exporter in Africa missed. They rarely if ever find a morph and if they do, they keep it for themselves or sell it as a morph. The rest of the normal ball pythons are then packed up and sent to pet stores and the like so the odds of receiving something other than a normal ball python from a source other than a breeder is extremely low.

beautiful normal ball python
Beautiful normal ball python

The only real way to know if your ball python is something more than just a pretty looking normal ball python is to breed it and see if the trait that you feel makes it something other than a nice looking ball python is reproduced in its offspring or its offspring’s offspring.

Beware of Internet Ball Python Scammers!

I think this is my third blog on this topic but I had to blog about it again because I’ve received more “alerts” from people surfing the Internet finding ads on various websites of fraudulent listings that appear to be from RCReptiles.com. We do not post any type of classified ad on any Internet website other than our own website. We do have marketing links and banners pointing to our site from other sites but in no way, shape or form do we create and list individual classified ads on other websites selling our ball pythons.

We’re one of the leading and most respected ball python breeders’ on the Internet and are often targeted by “Internet Scammers” who copy photos and descriptions of our animals in order to create fictitious ads on Internet classified websites. Some of these scammers are so brazen and bold that they include “RCReptiles.com” in their ads. Again, WE ARE NOT AFFILIATED WITH THEM AND THEY ARE NOT OUR ANIMALS!

We’ve contacted the authorities and classified website companies to alert them of this fraud yet the scammers continue their criminal activities. If a ball python is not on RCReptiles.com then it’s not our animal regardless of any classified ad that you may find on the Internet that says otherwise. If you stumble upon or hear of any of these fake ads please let us know about it so we can report them to the authorities at once! Thank you.

Caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware.



Expecting an Income Tax Refund? If so, Reward Yourself!

I don’t get the opportunity to watch much television so I decided to relax a bit today and see if there were any good programs to watch on either Animal Planet or the Discovery channel. I saw a commercial or two while flipping through the channels and they were both on the subject of “what to do with your income tax refunds.” None of the stuff they recommended buying with your income tax refund was wise in my opinion. For instance, there was a commercial about taking your income tax refund down to their used car lot and using it as a down payment on a used car. Well, if you know anything about cars then you know they lose value the moment you drive it off the lot! Some of the other commercials were funny as well because most of the “junk” they want you to spend your refund check on will only break after a few months of use or become outdated.

My son overheard me laughing at the commercials and asked me, “So, what do you think people should spend their income tax refund checks on then?” His innocent question really made me think and without trying to sound like a used car salesman myself (no offence to any of you that are used cars salespersons), my answer to him was simple. “A ball python morph!”

I know you’re probably thinking, “Come on Ron, you’re starting to sound like one of those commercial guys yourself!” In all seriousness, why isn’t rewarding yourself by buying the ball python you’ve always wanted not an excellent choice as to how you should spend or “investment” your income tax refund check? There are reports of ball pythons living in captivity for upwards of 50 years or longer. If you look at it this way, buying the ball python you’ve always wanted, irrespective of “price” is a good and rewarding use of your tax refund money. You’ve worked hard all year and paid Uncle Sam a portion of your blood, sweat and tears in the form of taxes so it’s only right that you should reward yourself with a pet that can live a half century or longer. Right?

Lets say you’ve wanted to buy (insert ball python morph name here) and it cost (insert price here) but you were hesitant to buy one because of the price but you REALLY WANTED THAT BALL PYTHON! Simply take the price - lets use $500 for illustrative purposes – and divide it by 50, the number of years they can live in captivity. That comes out to only $10 per year!!! Now compare a ball python purchase to anything else – used car, toaster, big screen TV, new computer, etc – and you’ll see that it’s really not a bad idea to spend your income tax refund on something you really love and will enjoy for many years to come, a ball python morph of your choosing. Any other item that you can think of will most likely be broken or a distant memory in the futre but not the ball python morph that you’ve taken good care of and have enjoyed over those years.

Breeding Ball Pythons as a Business

So you want to breed ball pythons for a living, eh? You’d be surprised to know how many emails and phone calls we receive from people inquiring about how to get into the business of breeding ball pythons for a living. Some people are tired of working a 9-to-5 job and others just want to make a little income on the side or just enough so they can purchase some of the more expensive and rare ball python morphs for their collection. Others want a bit of job security and so seek a way to “work from home” doing a job they’d really love to do, work with and breed ball pythons as a business.

I’m not going to talk about how to breed ball pythons in this blog because I’ve written other blogs that discuss the topic in great detail. I am however going to discuss breeding ball pythons as a business for those who are thinking about leaving the security of their 9-to-5 jobs to start their own ball python breeding business. Breeding ball pythons is my business and I haven’t worked for a company as a 9-to-5 employee in many years so I’m more than qualified to speak first-hand about the business of breeding ball pythons.

If you’re anything like me then you’re very passionate about ball pythons and love looking at and interacting with them as much as you can. It’s often said by famous businesspeople – Donald Trump, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates just to name a few - that you should love your job with a passion. You should love it so much that you’d do the same job you’re doing even if you weren’t being paid for it. If you feel the same way about ball pythons then you’re on the right path.

It’s one thing to be on the path but do you have enough stamina and willpower to overcome the obstacles on that path and “stay the course”?

Owners and Employees
There are two types of people in the world of business, owners and employees. There is nothing wrong with being an owner nor is there anything wrong with being an employee. The economy would come to a screeching halt if everyone was an owner or if everyone was an employee. Imagine a world where everyone was an owner and had no employees or where everyone was an employee and there were no owners. Both owners and employees have very specific jobs they perform and are vital to a company as a whole. Unfortunately though, owners have a more senior position in a company and thus the ability to terminate an employee’s employment. But unlike an employee, they can’t simply resign and go to work at a new company. An owner must “stay the course” and deal with the burden of keeping a company managed, organized and operating effectively.

I mention this because when you step into the world of breeding ball pythons as a business, you step into the shoes of an owner. But don’t throw away those employee shoes just yet because you’ll have to slip them back on as well since you’ll more than likely assume dual roles of both owner AND employee of your ball python business for some time. Believe me when I tell you that it’s tough work and that everyone isn’t built for business ownership. You have to do some serious soul searching to see if you are truly cut out for being a business owner along with accepting the responsibilities that it entails.

Is Business Ownership Right for you?
Once you’ve done your soul searching, you need to look at your financial and family situation and answer yourself some serious questions. How are my finances and savings? Do I have enough money or access to liquidity in order to fund my ball python breeding business? How is my family situation, will my spouse be supportive of my decision to enter the world of breeding ball pythons?

Let me be blunt with you. Most people are not in a financial position to enter the world of breeding ball pythons as their sole source of income. I would strongly discourage the majority from even entertaining the thought of leaving the security of a 9-to-5 job to become a full-time ball python breeder because it will require an extremely large injection of capital to get started where you can actually live and survive solely off of producing and selling ball pythons. I would however suggest breeding ball pythons on a small scale while keeping a regular job. Build up your collection over time and grow your business slowly to the point where it can support itself and you and your family as well.

It’s not that this business requires an enormous amount of money to get into. Like any business, you really need a large capital base to grow the business to the point where it can support itself and your family. Ball python morphs are relatively inexpensive these days and it’s not much of a financial burden to own a few morphs but you have to ask yourself, “How many morphs do I need to own that will produce enough babies that can generate enough cash-flow that will support the business and my family?” You’ll need five, maybe six-figures to accumulate enough inventories to meet that goal. That’s why I say to start building your collection and grow your business over time but keep a regular job in the meantime.

Managing your Business
There are many excellent books on the topic of creating a business along with managing the nuances of book keeping, accountants, licenses, attorneys, etc. so I won’t go in depth on those subjects. A good book on starting a home-based business is probably a good investment for you to own because it will walk you through the do’s and don’ts for starting a home-based business. The ball python business is like any other business with respect to record keeping, tax issues, etc. so what you’ll learn can be applied to your business.

You’ll also learn how to do market analysis that you can apply to the ball python market along with ways to promote, grow your business and sell your products.

Is Breeding Ball Pythons Profitable?
I wouldn’t be in business for all these years if it weren’t profitable. I look at the ball python business as a manufacturing business because they’re very much alike. Ball pythons manufacture baby ball pythons each year just like a company that manufacturers candy bars for instance. Unlike stocks, real estate, commodities, etc., you can make more money breeding and selling ball pythons than you can in most other investment vehicles. You’d be extremely lucky to own a stock that doubles in value but doubling your profit by breeding ball pythons is usually the rule, not the exception.

Tripling your investment is a real possibility as well with ball pythons but like the manufacturing scenario I just outlined, you keep making money year after year after year as long as your ball pythons are producing babies for you. Real estate and commodities are no different than stocks with respect to what you can expect to earn from your investments in them. Investing in ball pythons can most certainly yield you greater returns than any of these “traditional investment vehicles” can produce, even on their best day. There are some tax benefits to certain "traditional investment vehicles" but in my opinion the benefits pale in comparison.

So, what should you do?
In conclusion, as I’ve mentioned before, start growing your collection while keeping your day or night job. Acquire more ball pythons into your collection and build it up to the point where it will support itself and your family. Once you’ve reached that point you can leave your 9-to-5 job and pursue it fulltime if you choose to. Keep your goal in mind and continue to grow your collection of ball pythons but most importantly, have fun and enjoy the experience as well as your ball pythons as your collection grows.