A Talk with Lindsey
DH: There's a rumor that you had a hand in creating our new NJAPR kits, tell the folks at home everything about it!
Lindsey: I did, goodness. Those took off like hot cakes huh? Well, we have a ton of files and recommend more of a natural approach to keeping Ball Pythons. Halogen for day heat for the near IR-A benefits that replicate the sun closest, lightless for night. Gentle UVB for them at a safe distance, we also recommend full spectrum lighting even without plants so your animal gets the complete spectrum. So halogen, UVB, and full-spectrum to cover as much of the spectrum as we can for daytime light and heat. Then we want full darkness.
We also want a deep substrate barrier to allow as much substrate as possible. It allows for deep watering and keeping humidity easier for this species. And then the sky hides! Allows them to be up high for their semi-arboreal tendencies! They are avid climbers given the opportunity!
DH: It certainly sounds as if you've been at this reptile-keeping thing for a while, what a breadth of knowledge. It's been really great collaborating with you. If it's research and development or even content creation, like this interview, you are always there, so thank you.
Another question one might ask is, why are ball pythons so popular right now? They seemingly dominate a corner of the market.
Lindsey: Oh they definitely do [Dominate the scene]. They have a wonderful disposition. Despite people saying they are picky eaters, that usually comes from overfeeding. If you keep them on a more natural schedule of what and how often they would eat in the wild, you will find yourself with a voracious feeder! One that is both calm and wonderful to handle. The baby stage can be a little rough for some. Honestly, I got this species because I love seeing them display natural behaviors. It's why I have all of my reptiles. I enjoy watching them. Some days they are in hides, some days in the sky hides. But never do I have a day that this species is not pleasant to be around.
DH: If someone reading this doesn't already have a ball python they are probably considering getting one now. We know a great place to get a kit from to care for them.
Would you say keeping Ball pythons is your specialty?
Lindsey: Oh goodness, I've been keeping Ball Pythons and bearded dragons for around the same amount of time. Nearly twenty one years now. I have experience in many other species as well. These species i just mentioned are very familiar to me from working with a Herpetologist. I gained so much knowledge in all the species we kept. From teeny frogs up to reticulated pythons. However, dragons and Ball Pythons have always had a special place in my heart.
DH: Basically, you were into Ball Pythons and Bearded Dragons way before it was cool. How did they become so popular? The first thing one notices as they enter the reptilian corners of social media are the heaps of Bearded Dragon and Ball Python pages; there's got to be thousands. Every other day a new breeder seems to come to the fore. A new horror story about cramped conditions or unethical culling appears to pop up every other week.
Lindsey: Yeah... You might not want to hear my thoughts.
DH: Oh, now we absolutely do; spill the tea!
Lindsey: Oh Lord, hold please, making dinner.
DH: Again, this is why we are so grateful for anyone taking the time to talk to us about what we care for most, reptile keeping. We were brimming with anticipation, then Lindsey told all, holding nothing back.
Lindsey: Ok. Soooo I'm ready. [And the tea did spill]
Ball pythons breed easily and can do it in subpar conditions as well. They technically don't need big enclosures to survive. People will put them in racks and tubs and breed the sh*t out of them. Yes, racks can be pricey to start, but not nearly as much as it would be to house each adult in a 4x2x2 singly when not breeding.
People then go; I want in on the money and craze and want to hit the next big morph craze that will sell for 10,000 apiece! They snatch up more and more snakes and keep them like undies/socks, so then you end up with people that have hundreds of snakes.
Yet, your average normal/classic Ball Python goes for around 30-50 apiece. Which is cheap. When they get tired of those, they just give them away. The rescues are overrun. It's a vicious cycle.
Culling, in my opinion, is necessary, but for ones with spinal kinking, severe issues, etc. I do not believe in breeding spider morphs or morphs that have neurologic issues at all. They would not survive the wild. (Hint, finding one spider morph in the wild as a hatchling doesn't mean it would have survived its whole life) I don't believe in breeding or trying to breed snakes that have fertility issues, duck billing, this can all cause major issues with the inexperienced owner that doesn't know what they are doing and wants to try to breed down the road and ends up passing those traits on to the neonates.
DH: That was really balanced and informative. It's important to hear from keepers such as yourself who see these animals as living beings, not slithering money sacks. It is clear you truly care about the animals you keep, and we want to celebrate that and applaud it. Hopefully, someone will read this and try to improve their care even a little. Again, we know where people might find some stuff to help out.
It's a bit of a cliché question but unavoidable; how'd it all start? Why reptiles?
Lindsey: Ok. So I have always had a fascination with reptiles. My mom would not let my brother or myself get them until we studied the animals we wanted and wrote a report or did an oral report and showed we would be responsible for taking care of it/them.
Well, my brother never ended up with reptiles like I did. I volunteered and worked with the Herpetologist at the San Bernardino county museum so I could get as much hands-on experience as possible. The Herpetologist that worked there molded and shaped my future in the reptile-keeping world. They also taught me that keeping them in a large display setup is the way to go. You get to actually see the reptile display its natural behaviors, which is why I actually got into this in the first place.
I absolutely love watching reptiles out in nature and want to replicate as much of a piece of nature in my home as I can for them.
DH: What an incredible story! There is nothing like an apprenticeship to show one the ropes or rungs depending on the setup. How fortunate you learned such a sophisticated set of skills so early on; what an honor.
What drew you to Dragonhaus initially? How did you find out about us? You are one of the OGs! [Originals]
Lindsey: Wow... How did I discover Doug and Dragonhaus? I believe I saw Doug show one of his enclosures in, not just a pet rock. I really liked how it looked, the prices compared to others, and the lead times.
My first enclosure was the beast! I added onto it before it was shipped a 6x3x2, a 3x2x3 custom with a half screen top, and a 36x18x18. I'm sure he got sick of me adding enclosures on the order before it shipped out.
Oh, I forgot to say how I liked it. I absolutely adored it! Couldn't ask for a better product! I now have 9 Dragonhaus enclosures.
DH: Pretty sure Doug, our fearless leader and founder, was entirely grateful for an ever-expanding order and every order since. Wow, the beast on the first order, you don't mess around!
Now, when our enclosures arrived, what differences did you notice between our products and your old enclosures?
Lindsey: Quality, quality, quality! Easy to put together as well. Doug is such an easy person to contact if something isn't right or if there are delays. I still have one other enclosure from another company and a couple of glass setups. I will never buy PVC setups from anyone else again. Glassworks ok for a few of my species. But any that need PVC, I go through Dragonhaus 100%.
DH: Wow, such great feedback; now, as long as nobody finds out how much we paid you to say that we'll be doing great! Kidding, kidding, that is high praise, especially from someone as learned and experienced as you are. Any praise is good praise, but it really has weight when it's coming from a pro.
Anything else you'd like to say about the NJAPR kits?
Lindsey: I would say, go for it! Drop the money on it. They are worth every penny spent. Even if not going bioactive. Your Ball Python is 100% going to utilize the space when set up and decorated correctly. My girls use every inch of their 8x4x4, and I would give them a room if I could. If the wild isn't too big, why would this size enclosure be too large? If people are having issues with things and need ideas on how to set things up properly, please feel free to join us on our Facebook at Not Just A Pet Rock (Python Regius). We are for the beginner keeper through the advanced!
DH: Thank you so much for taking time out of more than a few busy days to talk. We've wanted to do this for some time, and we are glad it has finally happened. Your perspective, experience, and commitment to this craft are admirable. Your contribution to our enterprise is multifaceted, and we are so grateful to have you in the Dragonhaus family. We appreciate that you appreciate us as well; we try.