Most people don’t have the luxury of living within easy driving distance of someplace like NERD to get their snake “fix” like I do. For those of you who don’t live close to a local snake breeder you have a some options for getting your hands on a pet snake.
- Buy them at a local pet store
- Buy them at a local reptile store
- Drive out of the way to a snake breeder
- Order online
While many people might think a quick trip to the pet store would be the best bet that isn’t usually the case, especially to a general “Pets-R-Us” type store. As you read this article you will see why ordering online is often the best option. It should be noted that when I say “online” in this instance I am refering to internet, phone, and/or mail.
- 4 Reasons to order online
- It costs less
- When you order a snake online you can literally save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars vs the price of a snake from the local pet store. For example there is a local pet store trying to sell a normal red tail boa that is about two and a half feet long. They are asking $275.00 for it and they claim it is a male. On the other hand I spend 5 minutes browsing over at Fauna Classifieds and I can find them for under $100.00.
That’s not to say you’ll never find a better deal locally, particularly if you live near a breeder, but it is rare. For the time and effort it takes it is well worth it to spend some time browsing various online resources to locate your next (or first) pet snake.
- It is more convenient
- What could be easier than greeting the Fed-Ex delivery driver at your door first thing in the morning only to be handed a box containing your snake? It really is that easy. No long waits at the pet store while the store gets the snake “ready” to go. No need to worry about the other people who are inline for dog biscuits flipping out because they are haven’t overcome their fear of snakes.
- There is a greater selection of snakes
- I’m just as much a fan of ball pythons as the next guy but they aren’t that great of a snake. In fact I’m convinced that they are so popular simply because they are the only “exotic” snake that many pet stores will carry (aside from a few boas every now and then).
When you start shopping around online at various breeders sites such as BHB Reptiles, or Jimi Snakes, or at sites like the aforementioned Fauna Classifieds you’ll really begin to appreciate the large number of available snakes that you would never even consider had you settled on the pet store.
- It is discreet
- While you might like snakes and want to have one as a pet your neighbors might not like them. Worse yet your landlord might not like them. By no means am I telling you to get something you aren’t allowed to have. If you’re lease agreement says no pets then honor it, but sometimes your lease agreement will specify you are allowed “caged” animals. What I’m trying to say is the less of a scene you make of your new snake the better off it will be for everyone. If your neighborhood see’s you hauling a snake into your house it will prompt a few phone calls from nosy neighbors. Ordering online will prevent this. No one will call you because Fed-Ex showed up on your door step.
- Things to be aware of when ordering online
- You can be scammed
- As much as I advocate shopping online for a new snake the fact of the matter is that you can be scammed. Do your homework before you order from someone you don’t know and trust. In this case I’m going to point you back to Fauna Classifieds to their board of inquiry (BOI) section. It is basically a place where people leave feedback about their experience buying from different reptile breeders, and stores. Make use of the search function on the site and find out what you can about wherever you are considering buying a snake from.
Once you’ve done your initial homework you’ll need to protect yourself in a few other ways.
- Request updated pictures of the snake you are going to buy. They (the pictures) shouldn’t be more than 2 or 3 days old. Sometimes breeders will take a picture and 4 months later have the same snake for sale. Snakes change a lot in 4 months so it is important to get a proper representation of what it looks like
- Make your purchase using a credit card or PayPal. Both of these payment methods allow for consumer protection. Didn’t receive what you paid for? File a charge back. That simple
- Speak with the breeder directly. All online websites have contact information. Use it. Make sure you do so via phone. If they don’t leave a phone number for you to call send them yours.
- Always save a copy of the sale confirmation and email it to yourself. You should also print it out for your records
There are other ways to protect yourself but those are the basics.
- The weather is a factor
- While the US Postal service might deliver in rain, sleet, and snow snakes aren’t nearly as fond of it. In fact most will die very quickly. That’s why most breeders won’t ship unless weather meets certain conditions during the planned transit time. But we can’t control the weather and sometimes it will come out of nowhere. Before you order a new pet snake make sure you are clear on what the breeder will and won’t do if bad weather kills your snake.
- Shipping snakes can be expensive
- There are a few reasons for this.
- Snakes are generally shipped overnight. Don’t forget that they are living animals and while it might be ok for your new computer to get stuck for 3 days in the Memphis Hub of Fed-Ex it’s not ok for your snake to get stuck there
- Your snake must be properly packaged. There is a lot more to it than just throwing a snake in a cloth bag and tossing it in a box and throwing some tape on it
- The only legally licensed carrier who allows the shipment of snakes (in the United States) is Fed-Ex, and then only to people who have been properly certified. There’s not much competition out there. Of course people can and do use other shipping methods but you’re taking a chance if you do so
If you practice smart shopping when you are ordering your snakes online then nothing should go wrong. Just use common sense.