Buyer complaint of animal dying a month after receiving shipment

I sold a proven adult female ball python to a customer on 1/23/2020. I received an email yesterday on 2/20/20 that the animal had passed suddenly. She was shipped healthy with no complaints of any health issues on arrival.

The buyer was in the process of moving from CA to TX and had me ship to his friend in TX (none of this was announced till I created the shipping label). This female was under his friends care for two weeks according to the buyer.

I have recently sold several adult females that I no longer need in my collection for various reasons. None of my other customers have had any issues with the adults I sold them.

I have requested pictures which have not been provided, and the buyer is refusing to call me to discuss the situation. I have been in this business for 8 years now and never had this happen. I do not feel due to the circumstances of a third party caring for the animal, and time that has passed since she arrived healthy that I am liable for any financial compensation to the buyer. He has insulated that I am not a serious breeder since I am not offering financial compensation for his unfortunate loss.

I’d like some opinions on if people feel I would owe the buyer anything in this unfortunate event. As a good faith measure, accepting no responsibility for the demise of the animal, I have considered offering him a $500 credit on anything I have for sale now or in the future. The $500 credit I have considered offering is half the purchase price of the female.

Thoughts on this matter would be much appreciated.


In my opinion no way. I wouldn’t reimburse their stupidity. And honestly unless you’re just desperate to sell them another animal…like why. They’ve shown the amount of care they put into their operation, I’d encourage them to buy elsewhere

However, this should be a lesson learned that you DEFINITELY should add some language in your written refund/return policy that you won’t cover animals shipped to a third party (if it’s not there already.)

Sorry that happened, it sucks.


Scammer. :frowning:
(the customer, not you, of course)


I think the offer of credit on a future purchase is an acceptable compromise but I would only offer that if you are provided proof of death. Unless the buyer provides a necropsy or some kind of evidence that the animal in question had some kind of health condition prior to arriving in their care I would not offer a refund. I don’t know what your TOS is like but if you don’t have a clear time line for your health guarantee (if you offer one) I would add one for cases like this. It’s an unfortunate situation for both parties involved!


I would not feel obligated in anyway either, first because two weeks is enough for anyone to kill a healthy snake and you do not know what care the animal received by the third party and even if it was not a third party once an animal is out of your hands who know how the animal is cared for, and not providing a picture makes it very suspicious, the animal could be alive and well.

As a buyer if I was to buy an animal and the animal died suddenly the first thing I would get done is a necropsy along with photo documentation of the dead animal, as far as compensation would I expect any well it would largely depend on the COD but I would honestly likely write it as a loss, I have in the past.

There are no guarentee when buying animals they could live a 30 years or suffer a ruptured aneurysm within 1 month of ownership.

Always a gamble.

I personally only offer 3 days guarentee on snakes too much can happen after that, now whether or not I might make a gesture will depends on how I am approched and with what evidence and whether or not I know the buyer or am confident that is not a scam or something the buyer has caused.


I clearly offer a healthy, live arrival guarantee. No guarantee beyond anything brought up within 2 days (verifying sex, genetics, etc). I do not believe anyone in this industry offers a 30 day health guarantee, especially in these unusual conditions of a third party caring for the animal for at least a few weeks. Many husbandry related issues beyond our control could account for problems beyond a healthy arrival.


I believe you did everything right on your part so whatever you do just dont reimburse them. They clearly messed up, not you.


@cdconstrictors completely agree. And if you refused to deliver to a third party in the future if anyone ever asked you to again I wouldn’t blame you that’s for sure.


animal was healthy, animal arrived healthy, it was in the care of a 3rd party, they wont show proof of death, and the buyer is refusing to call about it.

i would say no, they shouldnt get their money back or get $500 credit unless they do the following:

show proof that the animal wasnt okay upon arrival
show proof that the animal is dead
show proof that the 3rd party is responsible and knew how to care for said animal
show proof of a necropsy
show proof that the death wasnt caused by the 3rd party


I’m surprised on the necropsy for a snake, though. Most often that ends up with no answers unless there was some various obvious problem (broken ribs or deformity, etc) and its very expensive. Plus you’ll have to pry the veterinary report of them and hope it’s actually real and from an established herp vet. A month is a long time, so even if there were broken bones… it would be very unlikely the resulted in the seller’s shipping.

I’d still pay for that before giving someone $500 cash back that won’t even produce images of the expired animal.

I still say scammer.


My thoughts:

No picture of dead snake = no refund

No proof snake was unhealthy upon arrival = no refund


You are under no obligation to do anything. For a few reasons- the snake wasn’t in his possession or at his home for 2 weeks. Who knows if proper quarantine was done, and who knows what it was exposed to. It has been a month- well past the standard 14 day health guarantee. he won’t send a picture of the dead animal. I wonder if it is really dead. I wouldn’t refund either or give him a new snake.


Without proof of health problems within a few days of delivery, no, I feel you owe nothing. If I was the buyer and this happened to me, I would want to know why. I would take to a vet to find out why. Yes I would be upset my animal past away but after a month I wouldn’t hold you responsible, but I would let you know just in case it could have some impact on your collection. On a side note, I’m a rather easy going, realistic person. Not all health problem can be detected before it’s too late. With no proof, it sounds like a scammer.


If he replied with pictures then I think that would’ve been a great thing to do since a month is kinda a long time but still enough time for an illness to form and kill the snake. But don’t reimburse him half the price or any of the price if he doesn’t send you pictures of a unfortunately dead snake.

You’re not obligated to give him ANYTHING, period.

  • He didn’t tell you the snake was going to be in a third party’s care
  • He had no complaints (most people list 24 hours to respond if there is an issue)
  • Snake suddenly died a month after being shipped is not onto you
  • Never do business with that person again, and leave seller feedback so others can be aware

Anyone successful in breeding these animals for years, consistently, typically knows their own animals pretty well. That you have confidence in offering proven breeders for the rest of us to learn and grow with, should carry the same confidence.

Assuming you shipped under favorable conditions per SYR guidelines, which really covers the bases, and the animal showed no signs of health issues for at least 48 hours, you really can’t take blame beyond that point.

The whole 3rd party ordeal is just an excuse to balance fault. If you sold a healthy, proven animal that thrived for you, then you should relax your mind.

Sellers have almost no control over buyers’ husbandry techniques (or lack thereof) beyond providing caresheets or tips.

I hate to bring money into the equation, but if you’re spending $1,000 on a snake, I think a seller might be willing to hold an animal until situations are favorable, be it a move, bad weather, or whatever reasons people ignore out of impatience as buyers.

As for money, all animals have the same worth of life. A $5 garter snake or a $10,000 ball python. Don’t, as a buyer, force a situation that isn’t ideal. Ask a seller for a payment plan, a hold, or just simply wait until conditions are ideal.

Personally, I have learned from mistakes as a buyer and I’ve assumed liability all times but for once, a DOA that was the result of a heat pack spike.

Just my .02


Due to the third party involvement,where the snake was in the care of someone else while the actual customer was not present, and due to the amount of time that had passed, it is my opinion that you ARE NOT responsible for this animals death. Don’t sweat it. Avoid doing any business with this person ever again.

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I may be wrong, but I believe having a necropsy done would probably cost just as much, if not more than the price of the animal. This depends on the animal of course. But I would imagine having a professional necropsy done, by a vet that knows their stuff when it comes to reptiles, would cost at least a grand, or close to it.


I’ve never heard of a 30 day guarantee. Usually live arrival and maybe a 1 week guarantee. But 30 days is ridiculous. 30 days is long enough for someone to kill a snake with bad husbandry.


You are correct. I’ve had a couple issues where animals died due to mysterious circumstances a month or more after purchase, and the customers were baffled in both cases that I did not guarantee the health of their animal a month after I had last seen it.