Buying a snake can be a sizable investment. Getting a snake requires making a commitment to the pet’s care and well-being. It is important to do your research so you know that the particular species or breed is something you will enjoy owning in the years to come. Find out how difficult they are to feed and house before you buy. Also find out about the snake’s temperament.
Remember that some snakes get extremely large, can be dangerous, and live a long time. Lifespans of over twenty years are not uncommon. Don’t assume getting rid of that unwanted reptile will be a piece of cake either.
Another thing to check out before buying is the laws of your particular city. In many places, snakes of certain varieties are restricted as pets.
That being said, it’s a good idea to get the enclosure, or vivarium, ready for the snake to move in before buying one. Different species have different requirements in heat, humidity, and size of enclosure, so again, do your homework.
Before buying, look your snake over for indicators of poor health. It’s a good idea to hang around the pet store or breeders’ for a while, just watching the snakes for clues to individual snakes’ personalities. The eyes should be bright and shiny. If they appear dull, it’s a sign that the snake is about to shed its skin. Wait until it has shed so you can get a better idea of how it looks.
It is important to get a snake that has been hatched or birthed by a reputable breeder. Make sure the snake is accustomed to eating pre-killed food before you buy it.
The best place to go to find a reputable breeder is your local herpetological society. Most areas have herp clubs for people who are into reptiles. If you’re lucky, you might get to attend a herp show in your area. Breeders attend these gatherings and show off their stock. Search online for information about herp shows you could attend. (Herpetology is the branch of biology that studies reptiles and amphibians. “Herp” is a common nickname for these animals.)
When studying the choices of pet snake species, get to know the Latin names. Common names vary with pet stores and with regions. By knowing exactly what species of snake you want, you can save yourself a lot of trouble. Different species of similar snakes, such as boas or pythons, have different temperaments and grow to different sizes. Just knowing it is a boa or a python is not specific enough to know for sure what you are getting.
Finally, there are some people who just should not own pet snakes. These include homes with children under five and anyone with a compromised immune system, because there is a small possibility of a snake carrying salmonella. The large pythons and constrictors can be a danger to young children, too. (And to everyone else, too! Be extremely careful, and know what you’re getting into.)
Educate yourself before you start shopping for that cool looking snake. If it’s your first snake, consider getting and prepare to be in it for the long haul.