Welcome to Invictus Exotics!
I've been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching lately, and have come to many conclusions about my place in the reptile hobby. There have been many factors, including my limited time, the Canadian market and its sustainability, and my personal views on my own collection, and the contributions I wish to make to Herpetoculture.
So here's how I evolved....
I got into this hobby almost 8 years ago. In that time, I have learned more than I ever thought imaginable, and have made more friends (and enemies) than I ever thought I could sustain. 8 years ago, my goal was to make herpetoculture my career, with the hopes of it paying for me to become either a reptile Vet, or a Herpetologist. I knew though, that in order to do this, I would have to become a "big breeder". I started doing my best to make a name for myself and my brand, and began working with any and every species that tickled my fancy. This had mixed results - my time grew thin, as did my budget, and quite often, I found myself in a position where I had no choice but to "thin down", with the hopes that one day, I'd free up more time, and then increase the collection again with new goals.
On the plus side, I've worked with more individual species than some people who have been in this hobby for decades. On the downside, it's hard to decide what to focus on when your "must have" list is so huge!
There have been a number of other frustrations along the way too. It seems that at every turn, there's another backyard breeder, some useless HACK who has to come along and either start spreading misinformation about reptiles, or do their best to bottom out the market, or trigger a reptile ban, or basically just be a complete scam artist. And unfortunately, a large part of
establishing a name for yourself means going onto forums - where if you DARE to say anything against a supposed "big name", even if they are DEAD WRONG, you get told that you're nothing but a troublemaker. Sometimes I swear the reptile community is more of a cult than a community. But, this mentality has never stopped me from being outspoken about how I feel about certain things, and I've found a lot of silent support.
These, along with other frustrations, lead to me to almost abandon herpetoculture altogether, keeping only a select few animals, and never breeding again. But then I remembered why I got into this to begin with - because my passion for reptiles is unconquerable - it is the INVICTUS in Invictus Exotics.
Of course, it hasn't been all bad things that have lead me to re-think the future direction of Invictus Exotics. My career is way further along than anyone else I know in my age group, and it's all uphill from here. I've discovered the snakes that I am truly passionate about, and want to focus on. I've decided that my health needs improvement, and that also takes time. I've also been really soul searching what I feel are my ethics around herpetoculture, and I have come to some very interesting revelations that will be the guiding principles of Invictus Exotics from now until the end of eternity.
For example - I have discovered that I am much less interested in working with several morphs of the same species, but rather, I am interested in working with more individual species. I will not (at this time anyway) abandon my morph projects, because some of them still capture my fancy. However, the bulk of my collection will be heading toward wild-type snakes.
I have discovered that I only have so much time for breeding and rearing young, so I no longer wish to breed everything in my collection that happens to be breedable. In fact, in the case of some of the species, I will no longer be keeping breeding pairs. I will keep one or two animals of the species, and if that happens to be 2 males or 2 females, so be it. I will start picking and choosing my breeding projects on a year-to-year basis, and some pairings may go 3-4 years before being bred again, if at all. And if the market looks like it's getting saturated with a certain species, and they are at risk of becoming a throw-away, I will not breed that species again until a genuine interest arises again.
I've also decided to say to be far less focused on the market. I don't feel good about being in the "business" of reptiles anymore. I feel much better breeding things I like, and then giving them to people I respect, or trading them for other things that I want to work with. This is not to say that I'll never sell any reptiles - it sure is nice to be able to recoup some of the costs of raising so many animals. It just means that the market is no longer my motivation. Be assured that when I do sell animals on the open market, they will be at fair market prices - but if I decide that someone I personally like should get an animal for $200 that normally sells for $1500, I will make absolutely no apologies to anyone for putting my own price on my own animals.
I no longer feel good about keeping snakes in plastic containers when they are into adulthood. Rubbermaid containers are great for babies or juveniles, but not for adults. So, I want to renew my focus on building cages for all of my collection. Simply put, the animals' needs have to start coming first - I can't be thinking about using what works for my available space.
These points, along with MANY others, have lead me to think that it's time I drew a line in the sand, and stated, in absolutely NO uncertain terms, who I am, what I represent, and what the brand 'Invictus Exotics' represents. Within the next couple of weeks, I will be writing the Invictus Exotics Manifesto. It will state clearly what my personal ethics are, my direction, and my contribution to the reptile community.
What this also means is that I will soon have A LOT of animals up for sale. I am giving the heads up to this group first, as you have all taken the time to express your support of Invictus Exotics through joining this group. Animals will be offered here first, THEN in the open market.
Once the Invictus Exotics Manifesto is done, it will be posted in my Facebook group. While I invite discussion, what I will NOT accept is people telling me that my opinions are wrong. The Manifesto will be the culmination of all of my personal soul searching, and will represent what I feel is unwaivering and true, and will represent where I am choosing to go. Therefore, it is impossible to say that I am wrong. If you disagree with my direction, you are welcome to find your own direction and go that way, but this is really about me.
Thank you all for your support and friendship over the years. I am not leaving the hobby, but rather, making the adjustments that I need to make to ensure that I will be around for years to come. The hobby became a business for me, and the business almost killed my passion. I vow to all of you now, I WILL NEVER LET THAT HAPPEN. 'Invictus' means unconquerable, and so shall it be with Invictus Exotics.