Before you acquire a pet snake, give some thought to how much it will really cost. The initial purchase price is only one very tiny part of the overall cost of a snake.
Just like any other pet snakes require vet visits, food, shelter, water, and more. Unlike cats and dogs, snakes need specially suited environments to live in. Heating pads and lights running 24/7 will run up your energy bills very quickly.
Cost of the Snake
This is the cost of the snake itself. It is a one-time fee and can range anywhere from free to tens of thousands of dollars. If you only ever buy one snake, this will be the only time you’ll need to count this cost in your figures.
Cost of the Equipment
We’ll start by assuming that you aren’t going to build your own snake cage and thus save yourself a great deal of money. Instead, we will assume that you are going to buy the equipment from a pet store. Let’s take a look at the cost of this equipment to properly house and secure your snake.
- Glass aquarium: You’re very likely going to pay at least $100.00 for this piece of equipment alone
- Under Tank Heater (UTH): Around $25 to $30 for one of these
- Heat lamp setup: Prepare to spend between $50.00 and $75.00 on this stuff
- Substrate: About $15 to $25 for a bag of this stuff that will last about 4 to 6 weeks
- Miscellaneous: Hides, water bowl, climbing branches, fake foliage, and all the rest will cost you about $25 to $50
- Food: Figure that each mouse you need will cost between $1 and $2 and rats about 3/4 to twice that amount
- Literature: You’ll probably want to get a book (or 10) about your snake and how to care for it. The minimum cost will be $10, and it will go up from there
- Vet Checkup: Since you’re a good parent, you will get your snake to the vet as soon as possible for a basic health check. Because snakes are a specialized animal, you’ll likely pay more than you would for a dog or a cat
- Heating the room: No matter what you use to heat a snakes cage you’ll also need to factor in the cost of heating the room they are in above and beyond the rest of your house
Now take all of those costs mentioned above and any others you might think of on your own and add them up. Once you consider that snakes can live to be 15 to 40 years old and multiply those costs over that amount of time.
For example, you will go through at least three or four tanks as the snake reaches its full size. Bulbs burn out, food gets eaten, books become outdated. All of which means you’ll be buying it more than once.
What if your snake bites someone? Are you prepared to pay their medical bills and lawyer fees if need be? How about if your snake gets sick? Will you be able to afford a vet to take care of it? It’s always a good idea to set aside $800 to $1200 just for covering the cost of snake emergencies that you might not even think of until they happen.
If your snake is a high-value animal (let’s say worth over $1,000), you might want to have it insured. You might want to have it insured if it is a large species of snake. You’ll have to buy cleaning supplies. Also consider gas to take it to the vets or run back and forth to get it food if you don’t breed your own.
This isn’t to discourage anyone from getting a pet snake. It is just so that you can see the actual cost of keeping a snake as a pet. Sometimes we find someone giving away a snake, and it never occurs to us how much free can really cost.