A PYTHON breeder with a stable population of around 40,000 rodents, Steve Leisk will grow the team at one of Australia's largest commercial rodent production facilities amidst soaring industry demand for reptile feed; and he wouldn't mind a quail technician thrown in the mix.
"Staff come and go, and while it's like any other year with needing junior yet mature workers, we need staff who actually know what work is," Mr Leisk said.
The Cabonne-based DoLittle Farm is home to a plethora of snakes, mice, rats, rabbits and game-bird quail; a commercial pet-food-producing workplace that isn't exactly for the faint-hearted.
Though, with nation-wide acceleration in demands for game bird feed via reptile owners, animal rescuers and pet food suppliers, the need for "something different" cosied up in a permanent seat.
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"Over the past two years, there's been a lot of people at home and looking at animal care more closely," Mr Leisk said. "As a result, quail production as a snake food ramped up by 400 per cent, with the huge demand for quail products accelerating to the point where it needs its own person."
Stages of severe drought and bushfires in Australia also contributed to the rise in rescued wildlife, with organisations regularly on the hunt for incoming food.
"Coming out of drought and bushfires periods, we've seen a huge increase in food demand through organisations like WIRES,which include rehabilitation for birds of prey," Mr Leisk said.
"Wildlife carers are continually looking for feed for those birds and trying to mimic a wildlife diet, and they're constantly saying they're out of food due to the high increase in rescued birds, and the dietary needs that go along with them."
Ploughing $7000 into state-of-the-art egg incubation and hatching equipment, the new technology at Mr Leisk's farm has now increased production rates.
"Four months ago, we were manually turning quail eggs every day, and now we've got systemised, professional equipment that will auto-turn up to 6000 eggs every 90-minutes," he said.
Mr Leisk also marked production surge resulting from the growing number of new reptile owners, which included warmer households over the last two winters.
"Part of the increase with demand is to do with the number of pet reptiles rising," he said. "Because of COVID, there was also a significant portion of people home during the past two winter seasons; and the warmer the snake is, the more active the snake is, which results in an increase in breeding rates."
The latest investment in high-quality breeding equipment boosts the number of quails, but the farm still gets inundated with orders.
"The demand for our traditional reptile food - mice and rats - is so strong that frozen, stockpiled feed is completely gone," he said.
Extra hands are needed. For farm work, contact Steve Leisk on 0427 109 552.