In this blog, I want to talk a about the current pricing of ball pythons in the market and how many lie within certain price ranges, that I will sort-of subjectively make up. As far as I know, the best way to track the numbers and prices of ball pythons listed for sale in the industry is with the website www.morphmarket.com. This isn’t a plug for them (though I do use and love them- that’s a plug) but it is the most popular site that gives you numbers of listing and allows you to adjust search parameters based on price.
Of course, using this source exclusively has several flaws. For example, the website is optional for anyone to use and will be subject to certain ebbs and flows based on the site’s marketing, popularity, competition, etc. Also, as anyone who uses the site knows, you often fall behind on updating your inventory, both adding new stuff and removing snakes that have sold. There are also certain cyclical variables that won’t be accounted for, such as breeding cycles, major gift-giving holidays, tax season, etc. This blog isn’t intended to be an account of the entire year or a judgement of the current state of the industry. It is simply a snap-shot in time. I think repeating this process several times a year, at key intervals, would be interesting and more valuable to judge the overall health of the market (hint hit John).
So, let’s get to it. Currently there are 7,696 ball pythons listed for sale on Morph Market. Is that a lot? Regular tracking and increased popularity of the site will better enable us to judge that in the future. A simple division among the number of US states results in only 153 ball pythons for sale per state. I am sure there are several thousand ball pythons per local Repticon show. So, I know that 7,696 is not a good representation of what’s available. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a poor representation of pricing. Let’s start to break down those numbers into pricing groups.
The first price range $10,000 and over. As of this writing (April 30th, 2017), there are only 7 ball pythons in this price range. One of those is not a real listing, as I spoke to the owner by coincidence yesterday about it. So, we are down to 6 listings with the most expensive being listed at $15,000. I know there are a few ball pythons for sale in the US above that price, such as visual Sunsets. I recently verified a sale above that price point. However, except for just a handful, I believe this is a realistic upper limit as of this writing. Overall, this segment represents less than eight hundredths of one percent.
The second price range is $5,000 to $9,999. In this group, there are a total of 52 listings. Within this group, seven listings are $8,000 or above and 45 are from $5,000 to $7,500. Overall, this group represents less than seven tenths of one percent. If we lump these first two groups together, they account for less than eight tenths of one percent of the current listings.
The third price range I chose because, in my experience, the buyers purchasing snakes over $3,000 are also often buyers for snakes in the $4k-$5k range. In the $3k to $4,999 range, there are currently 109 listings. That represents just 1.4 percent of the total listings on Morph Market. So far, all of the snakes listed over $3,000 make up 2.2% of all of the listings. That means almost 98% of all ball pythons have an asking price of less than $3,000.
From $2,000 to $2,999 there are 185 listings that represent 2.4% of the total listings on Morph Market. All ball pythons over $2,000 account for 4.6% of the total ball pythons for sale.
Now, this is where it starts to pick up. From $1,000 to $1,999 there are 606 current listings, representing 7.9% of the total population on Morph Market. What shocks me a little bit is that the ball pythons available for sale right now over $1,000 still make up only 12.5% of the market! In other words, 87.5% of all ball pythons for sale are under $1,000!
In the range of $500 to $999 there are 1,384 active listings. Now we get to take a chunk out of the pie. This group represents 18% of the current listings.
Finally, the lowest group is the $1 to $499 range. There are 5,347 ball pythons currently listed for sale in this segment and it represents 69.5% of the population. This is obviously the bulk of the listings. By default, these are the most affordable by the most amount of people and byproduct comes into play here.
So, what does this all mean? I honestly don’t know. I could give you some statements here but they would all be conjecture. All I know for sure is the facts. There are not many ball pythons listed on Morph Market over $5,000. I wish I had the historical data to compare 2010, 2013, etc. Then, it might be interpret-able. Are there fewer ball pythons worth over $5,000 than there were 5 years ago? Are people producing fewer high-end combos because the market dipped recently? Are there fewer new genes available at the moment (after-all, it is very early in the hatching season)? Is it all of these things?
If you’re a smart investor, you are probably asking yourself what you should do with this data, how can you use this to better effectively produce and sell ball pythons. I asked myself those same questions. Should I produce more high-end snakes to fill the void in availability? Should I produce more low-end snakes to participate more in the largest segment? Should I ignore all of this and produce whatever I want? Again, I can’t claim to know the answers.
I do think this data completely ignores one very important aspect of the business: you. Each of us has our own brand, our own type of clientele. Some breeders are known for producing inexpensive snakes for wholesale or for pet stores. Others have a reputation for very expensive snakes, either multiple gene new combos or perhaps they constantly buy or import new genes. Some breeders pick one gene and work the hell out of it. I think the story about you is more important than what’s being produced in the market. You do actually have influence over pricing, over standing apart from the crowd. You can choose to breed genes together that have not been bred together before and possibly produce something extremely desirable. You can take risks on imports, put in the years of effort, and maybe hit on something that no one else has. So, while I think the data is interesting, I am not sure it is usable at this point, and perhaps it never will be. For now, I think you’ll have to continue to rely solely on your best judgment.
For my thoughts on what genes to invest in, check out my previous blog post: https://www.thefloridareptileranch.com/blogs/blog/ball_python_breeding_advice