BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Colby Nelson has finished placing his wriggling, squiggling snakes into their perforated plexiglass cases for display.
The Bushhill Reptiles company of St. Francisville is ready for customers at this weekend's Reption at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.
Repticon is a Reptile Show that's open Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12th and 13th.
Nelson lives on family land in the Feliciana hills on 200 acres. He has been fascinated with snakes since he was very young.
"I had my first snake when I was 7 years old and it snowballed from there," Nelson says. "I'm 28 now and I've been breeding for the past 20 years."
Nelson deals mostly in ball pythons, with a sprinkling of other breeds of snakes.
I ask Colby about the scale of what he does, "How big is this operation?"
"This year we hatched out 175 babies. It can range, like I may only produce a hundred or such each year," he said. "It depends on how quickly the females recoup their body weight. After they lay their eggs, they lose a lot of weight and don't feel like eating. So it's how quickly they rebound that affects how many we'll have that year."
Repticon is the kind of place where experts and a newbie can all find entertainment. Breeders attend to look at the genetic "stock" you might call it. And Repticon stages seminars to increase awareness on how beneficial and important snakes are in the eco system for people who were taught since birth to be afraid of all snakes.
There deliberately are no venomous breeds of snakes at Repticon, and Nelson says the experts as vigorously look at the reptiles on display as the would-be pet owners and customers.
Breeding snakes is lucrative, if you are studious about your investments, Nelson says.
"Snakes cost anywhere from 20 dollars to a lot of money," he explains. "I've seen people pay $50,000 for one snake, it just depends on how new that snake is. All the ball pythons are different colors and patterns and it's all genetic. When something new comes in from Africa, people get them, breed them and then there are more around for sale, the market is filled with the new look and the price for that kind falls."
Sounds a lot like a stock market or collector's market doesn't it?
Nelson says people of all walks of life attend Repticon. He even notices the Boy Scouts attending, sometimes in their uniforms.
"You see a little bit of everybody," Nelson says, "And even people who don't like snakes, because they're interested and just want to see. There are other people who breed snakes. And the Boy Scouts show up. "
Repticon has a giant inflatable snake's mouth open at one of the doors of Repticon. Enter with your curiosity and enjoy the view.