Boycott the Drama — Brian’s Corner

Dec 16, 2014
The Reptile Report
by Brian Barczyk

The Reptile Report - Although I normally ignore drama and personal attacks because it gives the “haters” attention and can make them feel validated, I occasionally feel compelled to speak out.

Let me start by saying how much I love this hobby. I have dedicated my life to it for over 25 years, with the past 7 years putting more time into promoting the “hobby” than making my own personal business more profitable. With that said I have seen a dramatic change happen in the hobby over the past decade. Growing up as a youngster in reptiles I was often not taken as seriously as others, partly because I was so young and undoubtedly because I was a long haired kid that looked more like a partier than a zoologist, which is ironic since I don’t drink or do drugs. Although being 18 years old and trying to fit in with the 30 and 40 somethings of the business had its challenges, in honesty most of the big named breeders at that time at least treated me with some respect for how hard I pursued my passion. Don’t think it was all roses back then, there was some drama and people that didn’t agree with one another. But there also seemed to be a mutual respect; even if one breeder didn’t personally like another they still respected them for being a part of the same hobby. They even seemed to be genuinely happy for one another when someone achieved something big, or they would at least put on a good public face.

Over the past decade I have seen that mutual respect decay into hatred, jealousy and vitriol. I want to share a few recent stories for you so you see why I am writing about this. As most of you know, I breed snakes for a living and have some pretty heavy hitting projects that can draw in some major clients with a lot of money. Although the amount of money doesn’t matter in this story the reason I bring it up is because these clients usually come from other business and hobby backgrounds and have a lot of experience that we should all respect. On three separate occasions in the last month I have had these rather new-comers to the hobby tell me that in all their years dealing in multiple businesses and hobbies they have never seen such childishness that they have observed in the reptile hobby.

In one case, after investing nearly $50,000 into animals, they were no longer interested in adding any additional animals and had decided to sell them off just because they didn’t want to be a part of this hateful community. Not a good thing for supporting the reptile cause!

One of the others stated that they wanted to put a ton of money into helping fight for the reptile community but after seeing the way we treat each other he felt was a losing battle and decided to not donate tens of thousands of dollars to USARK. Again, not a win for us.

The other day I posted a picture I was excited about. It was of a Lemon Blast Banana breeding a female Scaleless Head. I really wanted to see a Banana Scaleless Head and seeing as I do not own an adult female Banana I decided to take one of my four female Scaleless Heads to this male. Overwhelmingly people were positive and excited for me, probably because they knew how excited I was to get this breeding. Then the drama started.. Why was Brian breeding a female Scaleless Head to a Banana? Why would he not breed it to a male Scaleless Head? There must be something wrong with the Scaleless? Then it even escalated to the Scaleless I have are deformed or possibly dead?

Let me start by saying, I do a lot of things from the heart without the best financial outcome in mind. I want to produce animals I am excited about and not just the most expensive animals I can. I have three other adult female Scaleless Heads to breed to the fully Scaleless male. If we want to talk “business” it’s probably in the best interest of this project to not produce 15 Scaleless animals this year and flood the market. And again, I produce what I want to, not what people think I should. That’s what has kept me so passionate for so many years, not the business side of things.

 

misc-16dec-boycottthedrama1-Brian Barczyk
This photo taken on the morning of December 16th, male scaleless ball python courting a female.

 

As for the deformity, the Scaleless snakes have probably been one of the most photographed and videoed snakes in the entire world, not to mention have been to two Tinley Park shows where tens of thousands of people saw first-hand and hundreds of people held in their hands. How in the world could I have hidden a deformity? What we have here are people that want to see the project fail for whatever reason, or maybe they want to see “Me” fail for whatever reason.

 

misc-16dec-boycottthedrama2-Brian Barczyk
This photo taken on the morning of December 16th, male scaleless ball python courting a female.

 

There is no gain for anyone if this project fails. It is all for the purpose of creating drama and is hurting our hobby. I have no problem with the people that have respectfully stated they do not like Scaleless snakes; we all have our opinions. But to blatantly make lies up and spread them as truths is ridiculous. I guarantee that even after this post there will be dozens of people demanding “proof” of what I am writing even after I stated all the facts. I will not cater to them. Check my instagram, look at my twitter, watch my YouTube videos, talk to the hundreds of people that have held one. I am done bending over backwards trying to prove anything to these people. Unless you are my customer you have no right to demand that I prove anything.

This is not just about my scaleless and I am sorry that I dedicated so much of my time and yours by pointing out that particular drama. My point is much larger than these examples. The point is that our beloved hobby is under pressure—pressure from powerful organizations that want what we do outlawed.

There is also pressure from the economic downturn in the Ball Python market as well as other animals. We all know that Ball Pythons prices have dropped by 50% or more in the last year. Our hobby has turned that reduction in price into hatred towards an entire species. Since when did it become in vogue to “hate” Ball Pythons? They are the exact same species that EVERYONE had to breed just three years ago. Are they a less desirable animal just because they are cheaper? What message is this sending to the world?

Of course I breed animals and pay my bills with the proceeds from the sale of my offspring, but my passion for each animal I keep has NOTHING to do with their financial value to the market. That’s why I keep snakes that are worth less than $10. I don’t care what they cost, I care about how cool they are. They are lives, people, not dollar bills.

We complain about how our hobby is being attacked, but the truth is WE are, by far, our worst attacker. Forums have turned into a cesspool of hatred. FaceBook has become almost unreadable with people hating others and spreading rumors. New hobbyist are not being welcomed, but condemned for the same questions we all asked when entering this hobby.

Listen, I love this hobby and I spend more time than I would ever want to admit helping others cultivate their passion for these animals. My business has suffered more than I can tell you because of the time I dedicate trying to promote each of you rather than just making money. I do not expect an award for my efforts, but I do expect you to listen to my experience and take notice of what I am saying.

If we continue down this path of hatred and drama and continue spreading rumors and looking for reasons to gossip, we are all doomed. I’m not saying that there is not a time and a place to state the truth, or ask an intelligent question. But please don’t look around every corner for a conspiracy or all the negative. Embrace the newcomers to the hobby; remember you once were them. Try to have respect for others even if you don’t particularly like them.

Whether you want to admit it or not we are all in this together. We have a bond that joins us in our passion for reptiles and animals. Set an example to others, make them think of us as more than a bunch of rogue idiots that only care about money.

Also, remember that when you support a company or an individual that is leading the way causing drama you are supporting the destruction of our hobby.

We need to send a message to everyone that this is not acceptable behavior and that it will not be rewarded. If it is the expected norm to present yourself in a professional and respectful manner or you will not succeed, then it will be demanded that the leaders of this hobby lead in the manner we will be proud of.

Please, I beg you to help turn this around. Rather than waking up and being involved in the drama, help promote USARK, volunteer your time showing animals to a classroom, and gratefully answer some questions from a newbie. We need to rise up and set the record straight. We love animals and we are not the greedy drama queens that the world sees in our hobby. I will do whatever I can to continue to promote the hobby in a positive light, will you join me please?

Brian Barczyk

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