Kasey Talks Critters Episode 6 with Dāv Kaufman's Reptile Adventures - Ball Pythons

Kasey Talks Critters Episode 6 with Dāv Kaufman's Reptile Adventures - Ball Pythons

Check out the video and the rest of Kasey Talks Critters on our YouTube Channel!

Kasey:Hey Zen Friends it's me Kasey, and I am back with another episode of Kasey Talks Critters. Today I have a very special guest and I'm sure you're already subscribed to his channel, but if you're not, you need to be. It's Dāv Kaufman and he is from Dāv Kaufman's Reptile Adventures. Oh my God. His channel is amazing, guys, and I'm so excited to have him on the show. About three-ish months ago, he went to Africa, West Africa, and he saw ball pythons in the wild, and we are going to focus on ball pythons here today. So super excited about that. Welcome, Dāv. I'm so happy that you're here.

Dāv:Thanks for having me.

Kasey:Absolutely. So I guess let's get started. So for those who aren't familiar, what is your experience with animals?

Listen To More Episodes Of The Zen Exotic Zoo Podcast Today!

Listen to the Zen exotic Zoo Podcast on your favorite platform! The Zen Exotic Zoo Podcast is avaible on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, and iHeart Radio

Dāv:I've had decades worth of experience with reptiles and really all animals. But reptiles is my focus and it all started when I was nine years old and got a garter snake in my backyard and became obsessed with reptiles.

Kasey:Yes. Isn't that how we all started? So can you explain a little bit about your current job working with animals?

Dāv:Yeah, I travel the world and I play with dangerous snakes. So literally, not 24 hours ago, I just got back from Bali, Thailand, and Taiwan is very, very jetlagged right now. I'm maybe sleeping 2 hours a night trying to get my schedule back on Minnesota time, it's not working very well. So, yeah.

Ball Python Care Sheet by Zen Habitats

Kasey:Well, we appreciate you being here with us to talk about these amazing snakes. So. Why do you think the ball python is such a cool animal?

Dāv:Because it's personable, It doesn't get big, It's like the world's perfect pet python. And now they come in more color morphs and pattern morphs than we can than we can ever wish for. So in the ball python world, there literally is something for everyone.

Kasey:Yeah. No, absolutely. My experience with ball pythons like, you know, as a vet tech, you know, they come in for appointments, etc.. Now, you know, I have a personal one. I have one you can see he’s spread across the table right now and it's yeah, they're really cool snakes. They're really fun. Like you said, they stay small. Yeah, they're really great. So what was your first introduction to Ball Pythons?

Dāv:So back in the nineties you would get, there was no captive breeding going on. Ball pythons were considered junk snakes. Yep. Nobody wanted them. They would come in from Africa covered in mites and ticks and internal parasites. The type of thing that, if it happened today, would get you immediately canceled in the reptile world. Back then, it was commonplace. And so I don’t remember when, but long before the ball python craze, I imported a pair of adults from an importer in Florida, happened to be a male and a female adult. And so I called everybody that I knew when I said, Hey, do you know anything about breeding ball pythons? And everybody was like, Why would you want to breed ball pythons? And, you know, a lot of people don't know that, when the importers would get pieds, when they would get mojaves, when they would get, you know, the wild, you know, color and pattern morphs pied as a wild, existing, you know, morph. They would put them in the freezer, because they didn't believe that anybody would buy a broken ball python.

Kasey:Oh, like pied ball pythons are so popular. That's very interesting.

Dāv:And so In 97’, Pete Call was the one who got one of them and said, I wonder if this is genetic. So we brought it to a normal, got hets, bred those and got pieds to realize that this was a genetic mutation. And as soon as he did that, then everybody wanted pieds, and they were $25,000 apiece. This is 1990 is money. Well, and all of a sudden the exporters didn't put them in the freezer anymore. I’ve been breeding ball pythons for a long time.

Kasey:Wild. I had never heard that. That that is so fascinating. So I guess this kind of goes into, why do you think there's so many in captivity?

Dāv:Because of the demand. The demand will never, ever meet the supply. See, this is how jetlagged I am. The supply will never meet the demand ever, ever. Everybody says, why are we still breeding ball pythons? There's so many of them out there. We are 150,000 ball pythons shy of demand every single year. There goes your snake. That, That's about it. You know, the people that I find that kind of slam the ball python world are the ones that tried to get rich quick and didn't. And they're bitter. I have never heard anybody who has had success with ball pythons slam the ball python.

Kasey:Yeah. No, absolutely. Do you think there are there any reported disasters when keeping ball pythons?

Dāv:Oh, of course. I mean, there's disasters and keeping cars. There's disasters and keeping house cats or plants. Yeah. You know, it comes with the territory. The main one is you've got to watch those thermostats, you've got to watch those heats. If you scrimp and buy cheap thermostats, if you buy cheap heat tape, you know, fires occur.

Kasey:That's you know, it would be devastating to lose a whole collection just because of a small piece of equipment. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Something very preventable, so. Everyone check your thermostats or make sure you have a thermostat.

Dāv:Right. And don’t buy cheap ones

Kasey:Yes, absolutely. So do think that the ball python is a tricky pet to establish? And do you have any methods that work for you?

Dāv:They do. And, you know, ball pythons are notorious for being problem feeders in this side of the world. When I was in Africa, I asked a lot of breeders if they were having problems and none of them did. So, you know, things like barometric pressure or things like cold fronts, things like, you know, our weather here in North America, Canada, Europe, it's different than Africa. And, you know, although the ball python is on its way to technically be a domestic animal, they're still not there yet. So, you know, things that we can't control, like barometric pressure has so much of an impact that we don't really consider. We don't even pay attention to it. And yet, you know, babies can go off feed. And then when babies got feed more dangerous than when adults go off feed, they don't have the body mass, the body weight to fall through that fasting. I will not let my babies go off feed. And in every single year that I breed ball pythons, I have at least a dozen of them that I need to teach how to eat. Do your research on who you're buying it from. If you’re buying it from somebody that is like, Oh, well, I hatched this out of the egg. I'm going to put it on my table at Tinley. You're buying a problem. If you were researching breeders that, you know, the good rule of thumb is fed twice, shed once that it's ready to go. The questions to ask the breeder: How many times as eaten? How many times has it shed? And you know, know that you're getting a snake without having those feeding problems. I will. I will hold on to my baby snakes for months before I even tell anybody that I have them until they're eating rat pups on their own. And yeah, you know, when you when you bring 100 ball pythons, that's a lot of babies to take care of and you know really I'm not really a motivated seller. I really I really am not. I get very attached to all my snakes so therefore I want to know who's buying them. I want to know are they going to be taken care of for the rest of their lives? I will refuse the sale if I don't think that that baby is going to a good home.

Kasey:I think that's you're a very responsible breeder in that, in that aspect, for sure, because that's not the case. You know, people are in it. They're here to make money. Don't care what happens to the animal. But we're here because we love animals, right? Like we're trying to, you know, show and educate as best we can on how to have a good relationship with animals.

Dāv:Exactly. Animals first, money later.

Kasey:Yes, absolutely. I’m right there with you. Do you think that ball pythons will be even bigger in the future?

Dāv:Yes. Yeah. Because we have with all the morphs out there, we haven't even begun to hit the tip of the iceberg on what we can produce. You know, when I was in Africa, I saw morphs coming out of the wild that I've never seen before. Reported a few of them. And I'm not going to show photos of what I have. I'm not going to do any updates on what I have until I prove them out. And so I'm holding back a bunch and there's some interesting ones, but when I do prove them out, I'm not going to ask $25,000 each for them. I just want I want the hobby to be strengthened and the way to strengthen that hobby is to make these really awesome snakes available to everyone so that everyone can work with them.

Kasey:Yeah, absolutely. Yes. Because super big on, you know, we need to if breeding is going to continue, we have to expand that gene pool as much as possible for sure. Yeah no it's absolutely/ I'm getting sniffed. Hi there. So what. Hello, buddy. What kind of owner or keeper do you think the ball python would be appropriate for?

Dāv:They do make good first pets. But again, I cannot stress this enough. That do your research, figure out exactly what it's going to take, that animal is going to live for 30 years under your care. And the animal, the snake should be the last thing that you buy. You should have your enclosures already set up. You should have your thermostats, your heat, everything set up and running before you buy your snake. I see so many people buy the snake and then go over to the next table to buy their cage. And that's it makes me cringe. So anyway, do your research.

Kasey:Absolutely. Snakes should not be an impulse buy, but unfortunately it tends to be that way. So if we can reach some people to, you know, try and change that school of thought, that's great. So because this is a Zen Habitats show, does Zen Habitats make an appropriate enclosure for ball pythons?

DāvSo I use Zen habitats. I have my rhino iguana baby in one of them, I have my tortoise in another one, and I have my super dwarf retic in another one. And now it's time to upgrade. Aries is getting big, so he's outgrowing his enclosure. So I need to get another Zen habitats to accommodate Aries, my rhino iguana. And eventually what we're going to do with Aries is he's going through the terrible twos, right? Rhino iguanas do that. So we're working with him to get through that as fast as we can. But eventually Aries will be a house, a house lizard. Yeah. Yeah, but before that we're going to get another Zen habitats enclosure for him. But I really like the product. I use the product. Yeah. And I'm not sponsored by Zen Habitats, so.

Kasey:Well, we appreciate it, but I do have some fan questions that we can get into. And while we're on enclosures, this is kind of one of them. So enclosures, sizes, So for me, Chip was housed in a four by two by two. He's now housed in a four by two by four. But I do see a lot of keepers keeping them in a 48 by 16 inch by two feet enclosure or two foot enclosure, rather. Would you what is your opinions on the different sizes of or for those three sizes? So we have our six inch, the two foot and the four foot option.

DāvSo what we found in Africa is that for the majority of their time, they are in the ground, in burrows, crammed into tight little areas. Right. If given the chance, they will climb. There was a paper that explained this in the ball python movie. There was a paper that was written that they are arboreal and yes, the ball pythons that live in the forests are arboreal. They are taking advantage of the habitat that they live in. But those aren’t the ball pythons that we have. We have the ones that are in the ground. Yeah. And so if you even so having said that, it's not a black and white issue. Everybody tries to make it into a black and white issue. They're either arboreal or they're not. And that's so inaccurate. But you know, if you prefer to have your ball python in a tall cage with a lot of branches decorate it the way that you see fit, there's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with that. Go for it. Do it. But having said that, if you have a bigger enclosure for your ball python, you have got to make sure that you have adequate hiding spaces for him because 99.9% of their time, they're going to be wedged in those hide boxes because that's where they feel the most secure.

Kasey:No, absolutely. You're absolutely right. So like I said, for Chip, we made a four by two by four. And I think this is definitely an individual snake. It's definitely based on individual snakes because Chip likes to climb. At least I think he likes to climb because I've witnessed him climbing a lot, but he does hunker down in those spaces. We have provided him two separate Zen caves. You know, there are there's lots of clutter, lots of plants. So he can find the spot where he feels nice and secure. And when he wants to climb, he can. Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. So I have another question from one of our fans and this one I want to see your opinion on because we don't typically give snakes treats, but I think we can talk a little bit about. So they wanted to know what kind of treats you would give a snake. But since we don't typically do that, maybe we can talk a little bit about diet variety.

Dāv:Yeah, giving snakes a treat. They're not cats and dogs. They don't they don't need treats. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. But you know, as far as diet is concerned, domestic rodents, domestic rats are the best way to go. I talked about the Ball Python movie that the African soft furs, that we are feeding our snakes. I was surprised to learn when I was there that those don't exist in the wild. They're not eating those in the wild. They're actually lab rats, the ones that we have our lab rats from South Africa. You want your you want your snakes on rats. Not mice. Rats. They can start out on mice when they're babies because they're easier for them to eat. But you want to get them on rats as soon as possible. There's a lot more protein, a lot more meat to a rat than there is on a mouse. Mice are basically little bundles of fat. Yeah, that's not something that you want your snake to be eating.

Kasey:Absolutely. Absolutely. No, I totally agree with that for sure. Um, so then one more question is, is UVB light necessary for a ball python's enclosure?

Dāv:So UVB is it's a is, again, not a black and white issue. UVB is beneficial for every living creature on the planet. Plants, animals, everything but an animal that spends 90% of its time wedged in a hole, only coming out in the mornings and the nights. If you want to have UVB on your ball python get the crepuscular lighting, a lighting that is, you know, strong enough just for evening and mornings. Don't put a UVB light in there that's made for day geckos. You’re going to stress your ball python out.

Kasey:Absolutely. Now, that's a that's a very good way to put it because I do believe in UVB for everything, but there is a big difference in intensity. Like, I'm a fair skinned person, I don't do well with all that bright light. Let me ask questions from our fans. You've already kind of answered, but is it- do they climb?

Dāv:Yeah. Yep, they will. Yeah, they will eat They will eat birds. Yeah. So one of the things that I tried to do with the ball python movie was explain that it's not a black and white issue. And that unfortunately flew over so many people's heads when I tried to explain that because so many people want to see the world in this or that. The world doesn't work in this or that, it works and this and that. When I explain that, I think I feel that that flew over a lot of people. they will climb, they will take advantage of, of, of branches. But they will also wedge themselves in the tight little holes and stay there.

Kasey:Absolutely. It's all about individual. So like it could be like my friend wants to go out and climb a building, but I want to go lay in bed all day. Wow. No, they definitely they're all individuals for sure. But Chip does not act like the way Bellatrix that is at home will act.

Dāv:We all have a snake that's snappy and angry, and we all have a snake that is the sweetest little kitten. Every mistake has a personality, and I don't think that we take that into consideration enough.

Kasey:Yeah, well, especially because, like, you know, they try to tell us that reptiles don't have personality, right, like that. It's. Yeah, of course they do. Yes, it's you know, we're trying like we try to put human emotions on so many things. But the snakes do they do have, you know, real personality.Yeah, absolutely. So we went over some really great things about Ball Pythons. Now I want to ask you stuff about you. What advice would you give someone who's wanting to pursue a career similar to yours? And I guess what could be your YouTube channel or your breeding? Is there anything that you would give either people.

Dāv:Yes, start now and work your ass off for a decade before you see any success. And the more you fail, the more you stumble, the more you aren't getting the traction that you want to get. Don't let it discourage you. Keep going. Everybody sees somebody who has success and they think that that just spawned out of nowhere. They don't see the years of stress. They don't see the years of poverty. They don't see the years of laying in bed in the middle of the night going, What are you doing? You don't see any of that. They only see the success. So if somebody wants to do this on YouTube and do what I do, you know, I've been doing this for eight years now, and for the first five years of doing YouTube videos, no one was really watching. And only after I started, you know, kind of refocusing my, my, you know, my, my efforts to travel the world to show how people's pets are living in the wild with the in the Wild series, that's the key. That was what people were waiting for. before that, I just kind of had documentary style videos that frankly were very boring to watch. I was afraid to be my own self. I was afraid to show who I was on camera because I'm a goofball and I didn't think people would take me seriously. And it turns out that the exact opposite was true.

Kasey:I feel that I'm very new to this whole world and I my first videos were horrible. I was. So I'm still uncomfortable in front of the camera, but every day gets a little bit better. And what I've realized is I don't need to read off of a script, like I need to be me. And I think it just all comes across so much better, right?

Dāv:It does. And people will watch you because of you and then they'll listen to what you have to say afterwards. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So, yeah, yeah. work hard. Yeah, I worked for nothing for a long time. Yeah. And mean you'll have success.

Kasey:What is a common myth about your profession or field that you want to debunk.

Dāv:That it's easy. Oh yeah. That I vacation for a living. You know, I haven't taken a vacation in years. When I travel it is literally go, go, go, go, go, go, go By the time with all the prep that it takes to take one of my trips, I'm exhausted before I hit the airport. Yeah, absolutely downright exhausted before I hit the airport. And once I'm on the ground, you know, our day started five, six in the morning, and every single night we are like, well, you know, we're turning in at like, let's say 10:00 at night. But then I've still got 3 hours of work to do to sort that footage, figure out what folder that footage goes into. If I oftentimes I'll record, you know, I'll, I'll film two different videos at once and have to then sit there and go through each one, each little clip, figure out what file it goes in. Because, like back here to the studio, I need all that organization. And so that's it. You know, you get anywhere from four to 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night, if you're lucky, then you're running, you're driving for hours a day, then you're hiking four miles a day. It is exhausting. There's nothing else in the world I'd rather do.

Kasey:Yeah, no, definitely. Sucker for punishment.

Dāv:It's so funny because I get comments like, gee, I wish I could vacation for a living. And I was like, Dude, if you only knew what this actually took.

Kasey:You're not out there sitting on a beach like you were putting in some serious work.

Dāv:For sure. Yeah, it's work. It's a challenge every day and coming up with content ideas is the biggest, It's the biggest hurdle you need to jump because you have an audience that is now the attention spans went from this to this to this to this, to this, to this, to this, to this, this. And I don't like making short form content, my videos average around 20 minutes. Frankly, that hurts me to do that. The sweet spot for YouTube is 8 to 10 minutes. Like I can never tell a story in 8 to 10 minutes.

Kasey:How can you convey all of the things?!

Kasey:Keep doing what you're doing, Dāv. For everyone who doesn't follow Dāv's channel, make sure you go over to Dāv Kauffman's reptile adventures. His channel is just phenomenal and you can learn so much. Thank you all for watching. Again, I'm Kacey. I'm here with Zen Habitats. If you like this video, make sure to subscribe to our channel. Hit that notification bell. We're going to be doing these once a month. Maybe we'll have Dāv back on at some point. Yeah. Thanks for watching.

Dāv:Yeah. Yeah, I know. YouTube is hard. They don't know. But you know, the other side of the coin is, is that I can't go out there and just make straight up herping videos anymore. I used to be able to do that. I used to get a lot of views on them. But now there has to be a theme to them. There has to be something that I bring the audience along bring my viewers along to do. And so one of the things that we just did literally four days ago in Thailand, on the other side of the world, is we were herping in one of the national parks in Thailand, we were finding tons of cool stuff. Like I put that together in a mishmash herping video, but it's not going to do as well as if I said, okay, let's do a theme to this herping video. So we were catching Greicos, we were catching flying snakes, parachute geckos, all that sort of stuff. So the video is going to be a herping video, but it's going to ask the question, do reptiles fly? And so it takes a lot of creativity and a lot of ingenuity to keep your audience hooked. And it's constantly changing. Once you’ve figured it out. It's changed on you. You've got to reinvent yourself.

Kasey:Yeah, yeah. And I don't know if you feel the same way, but when I make a piece of content like it's my baby, and when it doesn't do as good as I think it's going to do, or if it's one thing that I'm like, really pumped about and then it doesn't do well, it's, it, it's kind of sad. Like, it's kind of like, you know, it hits you a little bit. So another question, if you could go back and give your 18 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Listen To More Episodes Of The Zen Exotic Zoo Podcast Today!

Listen to the Zen exotic Zoo Podcast on your favorite platform! The Zen Exotic Zoo Podcast is avaible on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, and iHeart Radio

Dāv:I think about this so much. Yeah, because everything that I have done, I did wrong and I had to scramble and learn as fast as I could and adapt. When I got into publishing, I did everything wrong, but I still had success with that company and I still sold that company. When I got into independent film, I did everything wrong. And it's not that you did everything wrong because to imply that you did everything wrong, means that you knew what you were getting into before, which of course you don't, you're a novice, you know, there's no way that you can know what you're doing. And so you basically take the information that you have. You take all that you've gathered, and you act on that. And oftentimes that's not the best road to success. So when I started my YouTube channel, I had no clue what I was doing. I had no clue that you needed to upload, upload every week. I was uploading once a month. If even that I had no clue that you know what SEO was. I had no clue what time constraints on your video would be to have the most success. Yeah. And for the first four years of my channel, I mean, you can just see my analytics was just flat, flatline. And then I started to figure it out and then I went up here. But if I could go back to 18 year old, I would tell myself, Sit tight, sit tight. Don't worry about what you're going to do for a career. Don't worry about this. You know, if I could go back to 18 with the knowledge that I have now, I would tell myself that in the mid-nineties, figure out a way to breed those ball pythons. Because I didn't and I missed the beginning of the of the ball python craze because of it, because I moved out to Los Angeles during the python birth of the python craze to be an independent filmmaker, which I succeeded in. But I wish that I would have foregone that, got into ball pythons, said in 2005. There's going to be this invention called YouTube or just chill out worrying and instead of course, eventually I found myself back to this world that I'm on now. But it was a very long, winding, pot holed filled road that I that I want to get there.

Kasey:I get that. And I think, you know, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? Thank you so much. Yeah, I have enjoyed this thoroughly. I think we learned a lot about Ball Pythons. We learned a lot about you, Dāv, which is I'm in awe because like, obviously you're so big on your channel and you're big in the reptile space. Like, when I met you at Tinley for NARBC, you had flocks of people like trying to get photos with you.

Dāv:I really love my fans. I love it when they come up and say hi. I love it when they come up and want selfies. And if you see me filming and I say just a second, let me finish the shot, you know, you're not you're not bothering me.

Kasey:Like I wasn't I wouldn't say that I was intimidated, but it was you were so, so nice to meet in person. So I really appreciate that. So everyone else gets to go say hi to Dāv. But yeah, this has been a lot of fun, so thank you again for joining me.

Dāv:Absolutely. Right now, I have to go buy my tickets to Madagascar because we're leaving in six weeks.

Kasey:Well, you better get on that. And maybe we can focus on another animal and a future Kacey talks critters from Madagascar.

Dāv:There is going to be so I don't think people realize how many of our pets actually come from Madagascar. A lot of them. A whole lot. There’s going to be a lot of in the wild videos that I'm going to shoot in Madagascar. Yeah, we're going to be there for three weeks filming. And yeah, that's the other side of the coin is I can't bring back 20 videos.

Check Out The Full Series Right Here!

check out kasey talks critters an original series by zen habitats

Kasey:Keep doing what you're doing, Dāv. For everyone who doesn't follow Dāv's channel, make sure you go over to Dāv Kauffman's reptile adventures. His channel is just phenomenal and you can learn so much. Thank you all for watching. Again, I'm Kacey. I'm here with Zen Habitats. If you like this video, make sure to subscribe to our channel. Hit that notification bell. We're going to be doing these once a month. Maybe we'll have Dāv back on at some point. Yeah. Thanks for watching.

Related Products