No matter how much you enjoy your pet snake, there can come a time when you can’t keep it any longer.
Some pet snakes live to be as much as 35 years old. During that time, a teenage snake enthusiast can become a parent of small children.
Snake owners go off to college and into the military. They fall in love with people who don’t share their enthusiasm for snakes.
And snake owners can suffer financial setbacks that don’t leave them with the money they need to give their snake a good home.
Snakes can be set free into the wild, given away, sold, or euthanized. Usually, the best way to give your snake a good new home is to sell it.
We’ll take a look at each of these options in detail.
What About Just Setting Your Snake Free into the Wild?
Unless you are doing wildlife rehab with the intention of returning snakes to the wild, it’s never a good idea just to set your snake free to fend for itself.
Many snakes won’t be able to find food in the wild.
They will starve or fall prey to other wildlife that eats them.
Other snakes will be able to find food on their own, but that food might be your Grandma’s kitten or your neighbor’s poodle.
It’s even worse to release a snake into the wild because it is sick. Your snake will suffer and may have diseases it can spread to other wildlife.
Tropical snakes, in particular, should never be set free.
It’s essential for the health and wellbeing of other pets and small wild animals to find another placement for them when you want or need to let them go.
Also, with some species of tropical snakes, releasing them into the wild is illegal and can make you responsible for any damage they cause.
Giving Your Snake Away
Making a gift of your snake to someone you know who has the experience, equipment, and funds for keeping snakes can be a great idea.
You find a good home for your snake, and a friend has a new and welcome pet.
If you have friends who keep snakes, and you need to find a home for your animal, this can be the option you explore first.
What isn’t a good idea is giving away your snake to someone you don’t know—especially if they insist you deliver their gift snake to them.
There are people who torture and mistreat snakes. And there are people who will keep a gifted snake just long enough to resell it.
If there is any hint your snake is going to a bad home, don’t give it away.
Selling Your Pet Snake
There are several advantages to selling your pet snake over getting rid of your pet snake any other way.
One advantage is, obviously, you get some money for your snake.
You may also be able to get some of the money you spent on your snake’s enclosure, heat lamp, and handling tools, too.
The other advantage of selling your snake instead of giving it away is that someone who buys your snake is more likely to take care of it, rather than neglecting it as a novelty they got for free.
Sell Your Snake Online
Of all the ways you can sell your snake, reaching potential buyers online requires the least effort.
There are potential buyers for your pet snake on Angie’s List, Craig’s List, and Gumtree.
There are potential buyers for your snake on community sales boards and in forums for people who keep snakes.
Anyone searching online to buy a snake is absolutely going to want to know what kind of snake you have for sale.
They will want to know your snake’s age, weight, length, health history, and shedding patterns.
They will want to know what it likes to eat (especially if you have been feeding it Reptilinks), its sex, and it’s breeding potential.
But what will help you make the sale—or drive potential buyers away—is a brief statement of why you are selling your snake.
Stating your reasons for getting rid of your snake doesn’t have to become a dissertation.
If you have inherited a snake when your child moved out, or if you are moving away, moving in with someone who doesn’t care for snakes, downsizing your pet collection, or have simply outgrown your fascination with snakes, say so.
Potential buyers really just want to know you aren’t trying to pass off an unhealthy snake or a snake that has “personality issues.”
As little as 10 words or less can be enough for this disclosure, but it is an important part of your ad.
That doesn’t sound very hard, does it? The downside of selling your snake online is that, as you already know, everybody on the Internet is not a person of goodwill.
Some trolls may want you to deliver your snake before they pay for it.
They may want to visit your home to check out your snake, which is OK and even recommended, but not everyone who wants to get into your home has pure motives.
They may make a deal for your snake and then try to reduce the amount they pay you once they have the snake under their control.
They may try to pressure you to give away your snake for free.
So, how do you avoid these problems when you sell your snake on the Internet?
Put the buyer in the position of sympathizing with you rather than allowing a buyer to force you to sympathize with them.
You can do this by being very clear about the reasons you are letting your snake go.
What Kinds of Reasons Do People Have for Selling Snakes?
Maybe you realize you can’t really leave your 18-foot anaconda with your 85-year-old Grandma so you can go to college.
It’s not unusual for first-time big snake owners not to realize how much of a challenge it can be to take charge of a snake that is over eight feet long.
Maybe you don’t have anyone to help you when it gets out of its enclosure. Maybe you just don’t have the physical strength to keep it under control.
“Too big” is a reason for getting rid of a snake that anyone who knows and loves snakes will understand. The right buyer will be sympathetic to your position.
Or maybe you just don’t know how to take care of your snake. Your snake isn’t seriously ill, but it just isn’t thriving.
Maybe your snake needs warmth and humidity you can’t give it in your home.
Or you don’t know what you would do if the power goes out for days or weeks. Again, people who care about snakes understand how you would want to rehome your snake under these conditions.
Sometimes your snake just doesn’t like you.
This would have more to do with your unique body odor (it’s a genetic thing, not necessarily a matter of personal hygiene), or some chemical that gets into your clothes and hair at work or school.
Or your snake is defensive toward your other pets. Snakes can have bad experiences as hatchlings that they never overcome.
Be frank about this problem, and seek out buyers who can deal with it.
Another good reason for selling your snake that everyone can understand? You just don’t have enough money to take care of your snake.
You may have spent a lot of money on an exotic morph and then discovered you needed to spend even more money on special upkeep.
There is no shame in seeking a buyer who already has all the equipment to give your snake a good home.
And it’s always OK to want money for your snake, both for your protection and for your snake’s. It’s normal to feel bad about letting your snake go.
But it is 100-percent OK to take some money to do it.
Avoidable Problems When Selling Your Snake
Unless you really, really don’t have enough money to maintain your snake, there is no reason you should advertise your snake just on Craig’s list or just on Angie’s list or just on Gumtree.
The more places you advertise online, the faster you will find the right buyer, and the more likely you are to get your asking price without a long wait.
Once you have made up your mind about how much money you want for your snake, you should stick to your price.
Never leave the door open for downward negotiation with “or best offer” (O.B.O.).
Buyers appreciate honest information about your snake’s condition coupled with a firm price. You can always negotiate the price of the enclosure, lamps, and so on.
But how do you calculate the right price for your snake?
Setting a Price for Your Snake
A fair price for your snake depends on the species it is, and whether it is a rare morph usually sold at a premium price.
Here are some rough guidelines for prices for common kinds of pet snakes. We’ll start with prices for the more common, smaller snakes and work up to price ranges for larger, more exotic snakes.
All prices here are for the U.S. market and are in U.S. dollars.
Garter snakes are always popular pet snakes.
They are small enough to be easy to manage. They like being handled, and they’re friendly.
You can probably get $25 for a healthy garter snake, or up to $50 if it is unusually tame or has unusual markings.
Eastern and Western Hognose Snakes
Eastern and Western hognose snakes are popular because of their friendliness and their cute, upturned, “piggy” noses.
They eat insects, and they are fun to watch digging into their substrate.
You probably won’t be able to get more than the $20 to $30 most pet shops charge for ordinary hognose snakes, but some morphs bring a lot more.
A creamy orange morph of the Western hognose snake usually brings in about $200, and “axanthic,” black and white Western hognose snakes readily sell for up to $400.
Corn snakes are great starter snakes. They are colorful, fun to watch, friendly, and easy to care for.
The market for corn snakes is flooded, so most of the time you will get just $30 or so for your corn snake, unless you have one of the following morphs:
- Caramel colored corn snakes usually can be sold for $100 to $150.
- Hypomelanistic corn snakes, which don’t have dark rings but still have rings of yellow, orange, red, or light brown, go for $150 to $1000.
- Palmetto corn snakes have dots on their backs. A typical price is $600.
- Scaleless, “anerythristic” corn snakes sell for $500 to $1200.
Don’t give away a scaleless, albino corn snake.
It takes extra effort to find the right collector, but these snakes sell for thousands of dollars.
California King Snake
California king snakes are always in demand. You can get about $70 for almost any California king snake.
But a lavender California king snake or an albino with pink eyes will sell for about $100.
The almost totally “high white” California king snake will usually sell for about $300.
Ball pythons are popular, manageable pets that sometimes can be found for as little as $30. Rare morphs, however, cost much more.
The albino morph sells for $200 to $2000.
The axanthic black and white morph sell for $300 to $1500.
A yellow ball python might fetch $300 to $1500, and piebald (mixed color) ball pythons sell for $500 to $5000.
Boa constrictors are more expensive than other snakes. The least you will ever pay is about $100, and morphs cost much more.
Scaleless boa constrictors bring in about $500. Hypomelanistic boa constrictors, which have patterns in lighter colors, sell for $500 to $1000, depending on their potential for breeding.
A pure black boa constrictor often sells for about $2000, and a pure white boa constrictor sometimes can be sold for $3000.
Getting Your Snake to Its New Home
When you are giving away your snake, it’s not unreasonable to expect the new owner to come to pick it up.
But when you are selling your snake, shipping is usually necessary. The more you are getting for your boa, the more likely you are to need to ship it.
Shipping a snake is a somewhat complicated process with somewhat complicated rules.
- You will need to put your snake in a pouch made of breathable fabric for its trip. Its box will need two air holes.
- You can’t ship poisonous snakes (although an animal forwarding service can).
- Any carrier will require you to label your package with the statement “Harmless Animals Inside,” the number of snakes, their common name, and their scientific name.
- You will need to use a box with a crush strength of 27#. If you don’t know how to confirm this, buy your box from someone who does.
Be sure to check how it will cost to ship your snake and whether snakes can be delivered to their intended destination before you make your deal.
What About Euthanizing Your Snake?
Euthanasia is a last resort, and it’s not a do-it-yourself proposition.
Speak to your vet about painless euthanasia and a final resting place for your snake.
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