Have you ever considered breeding your own reptiles?
Do you think you’d be able to make a full-time job out of it?
There are many different options when it comes to reptile breeding.
Some breed a wide variety of species, while others have selected specialties.
Some breeders market to pet owners while others market to commercial businesses such as zoos.
But if you are interested in getting into the reptile breeding business, you might ask yourself, “how much do reptile breeders make?”
Depending on how they budget their money, the rarity of the species being bred, and how well the hatchlings are cared for, a reptile breeder’s income ranges from zero to over thousands of dollars.
What is a Reptile Breeder?
Before getting into the business of reptile breeding as a hobby or for profit, it is essential to understand what it entails.
As a reptile breeder, you are responsible for maintaining the general welfare of any species you choose to breed, including turtles, snakes, or lizards.
Other reptiles such as alligators and crocodiles are not often bred outside of zoos or nature.
These duties include:
- Providing proper nutrition (worms, crickets, etc.)
- Maintaining a clean habitat
- Regular monitoring of the animal and its’ behavior
- Finding proper veterinary care (if needed)
- Keeping records of the animal’s health and breeding history
Most reptiles lay eggs (a few snakes and lizards develop their eggs inside the mother), and as the reptile breeder, you may need to use an incubator to keep the eggs warm until they hatch.
After the eggs hatch, the young reptiles, also known as hatchlings, require even closer monitoring.
To achieve the duties listed above, it is strongly encouraged for you to have a complete understanding of the needs of the specific species you wish to breed.
You need to know things such as ideal temperature, ideal humidity, nutritional needs, and habitat needs.
We suggest you do extensive research and focus on reptiles you have plenty of hands-on experience with.
Once you determine the specific species you wish to breed, a solid understanding of genetics will help you in the breeding process, especially if you attempt to produce reptiles with particular colors or markings.
For those who may need a refresher on genetics, we recommend Genetic for Herpes: The Reptile and Amphibian’s Breeders Guide to Genetics available on Amazon.
Do I Need a License to Breed Reptiles?
Under the Animal Welfare Act, to breed any animal or reptile, you must obtain a license.
All other licensing varies by state and sometimes the city.
You need to look into your state’s Department of Agriculture or Natural Resources to see if they require additional permits or licensing for reptile breeding.
Please note some states do not allow the reproduction (or even ownership) of exotic animals, which often includes various types of reptiles.
For example, it is not legal to own, breed, or sell poisonous snakes or crocodiles in most states.
If you are looking to sell the reptiles you breed, you may need to obtain a dealers’ license through your state or local government.
You may also need to get a business license depending on the scale of your operation.
These are things you need research and procure before starting to breed.
How Do I Become a Reptile Breeder?
After you have done your research and made sure you have the proper licenses/permits, you are ready to start breeding!
When starting, we suggest you focus on one specific breed of reptile.
This helps to become familiar with the process and limits the initial up-front cost.
It would be best if you considered which reptiles you have experience with and which reptiles people want to buy.
Knowing the reptiles in demand may be beneficial in you making a profit.
Listed below are some of the most popular reptile breeds people keep as pets:
- Bearded dragon
- Leopard gecko
- Red-eared slider turtle
- Eastern box turtle
Once you have determined the specific animal you want to breed, you need to research and invest in quality breeders (the reptiles who will reproduce for you).
Then you will need to gather the necessary supplies for your breeders.
Supplies will vary based on the specific species you are working with, but in general, you need to make sure you have food and the necessities of a habitat.
This may include (but is not limited to) an aquarium or terrarium, reptile racks, thermostat, heat source, and egg cartons.
How Much Does It Cost to Start Reptile Breeding?
Before you can make money breeding reptiles, you will need to invest some money.
The exact amount will vary based on the specific species you are working with and the quality of supplies you invest in.
First, you need to buy reptiles to breed.
This will typically cost at least a couple of hundred dollars (potentially more).
While it may seem like a lot of money upfront, using quality breeders will ultimately benefit you and increase your chances of making a profit.
Conduct research to ensure the reptile dealer(s) you are working with is respected and legitimate.
In addition to purchasing the breeder, you also need to make sure you have all the necessary supplies the breeder and its eventual offspring need to survive.
We suggest comparing food prices to make sure you are getting the most for your money.
Buying in bulk, when possible, is also highly recommended.
As previously mentioned, you will also need to use an incubator for your breeder’s eggs.
We recommend the ZooMed Digital Reptile Egg Incubator from Amazon.
Many reptile breeders use reptile racks to store and monitor hatchlings safely.
We suggest using the MOCOHANA Reptile Terrarium Cage with Reptile Breeding Boxes available on Amazon.
This specific reptile rack comes with a built-in heating pad to easily maintain the ideal temperature for your hatchlings to thrive and grow.
You may run into additional costs along the way, including supplemental nutrition or visits to a reptile veterinarian.
How Do I Make a Profit Breeding Reptiles?
Some prefer to breed reptiles as a hobby and sell what they produce to just close friends and family.
However, if you are interested in making money from selling the reptiles your breeder produces, there are a few things you need to consider.
First, look at the initial money you are putting into the breeding business.
People sometimes mistakenly believe reptiles aren’t an expensive pet to maintain.
They aren’t like dogs in a sense they require yearly shots and frequent vet visits.
However, if you plan to breed reptiles even just for a hobby, you need to be prepared to invest money in the beginning.
As the above section outlined, making sure you have quality breeders is vital and sometimes expensive.
We suggest you talk to several different reptile breeders and make a budget before you start buying.
Having a budget and keeping track of how much you spend will benefit you as you attempt to profit later on.
Second, the type of reptiles you breed will determine the amount of money you can make from selling them.
While you need to breed reptiles, you will be able to sell; you also need to see if the market is already oversaturated with buyers.
For example, since bearded dragons are some of the most bought reptile pets, they do not sell for a high price, especially when young.
In a lot of pet stores, a person can buy a young bearded dragon for as low as $25.
Breeding more rare reptiles or reptiles with unique colors/markings will sell for a much higher price.
For example, a respected breeder may be able to sell a pure white ball python snake for over 500 dollars!
Although, we strongly suggest you extensively research any animal before you attempt to breed it.
More rare animals also come with additional needs and risks.
Also, it is beneficial to have plenty of hands-on experience with any reptile before breeding.
Finally, how well you take care of your hatchlings will impact how much money you can make.
You need to closely monitor your eggs/hatchlings, provide proper nutrition, and provide veterinary care when/if it is necessary.
Quality supplies and food will go along in ensuring healthy offspring.
Without healthy hatchlings to sell, you will not be able to make much of a profit.
Not everyone who decides to start breeding reptiles will make a successful business.
Even if you choose just to make it a hobby, reptile breeding is hard work.
You need to make sure you have done your research and bought quality supplies before getting started.
If you do decide you want to make some money breeding reptiles, the type of reptile you breed, how much money you initially invest, and how well you care for the offspring will help to determine your income.