Collection vs pets?

I have been lingering on this thought for a long while, and it might spark some controversy.

But…in the reptile hobby why do people refer to their pets as a collection? I constantly see people (who are not breeders) constantly buy and flip (erm ‘rehome’) animals just to add more. In my mind, that is animal hoarding that soooo many hobbyists get away with since for the most part, reptiles just need their minimum needs met to live…

I can understand if your hobby is breeding and you want to make a buck or just love animals…but my take is that animals aren’t like Pokémon…if you purchase or adopt it you should be responsible for the entirety of its life and embrace them as living art.

What do you all think on this topic?

PS: this got triggered because someone tried to offer me cash for my Boa and the person got annoyed that I told them no


I consider myself a pet owner. The way that many reptile breeders treat their animals is not something that I’d be able to do myself, as I get too emotionally attached. However, I don’t have any ethical problems with breeding or re-homing animals, so long as the recipient seems reasonably responsible. I have mixed feelings about middle to large scale reptile breeding, but ultimately I’m not exactly against it per se. I feel that, if an animal’s needs are being met and it has excellent quality of life, then I don’t have anything against the exchange of the animal, so long as it continues to be well cared for.

For me, it’s sort of similar to my dietary choices, of all things. (I generally don’t discuss this & I’m using it as an illustrative example, not to try and push any agenda.) I’m a vegetarian that aspires to be vegan, and, in my ideal world, other people would feel the same as I do. But the fact is that most people don’t, and most react very negatively to any suggestion to think or act differently, and it causes more harm than good. So I have contented myself with just making the choices that I feel are ethical on an individual level and discussing it whenever it comes up with anyone who’d like to hear my opinion or experiences.


I see my animals as my pets, but also as a business investment. Often breeders will buy or produce a snake, and plans change so that’s why they sell them. I’ve done the same — I actually have a couple snakes I will likely be letting go for that very reason.

I also keep mine in minimalistic rack setups, but I would never recommend pet owners to keep theirs like I do.

I do plan to eventually move my near and dear babies like my girl Delta into a bioactive pvc enclosure setup. I’d love to do the same for my whole collection, but it’s simply not financially possible nor space efficient for me wanting to breed as a business.

I call it a “collection” because that’s just the term I’ve picked up from other keepers/breeders… though the term does make it sound like they’re being treated as objects rather than animals. Or the Pokémon-esque vibes you describe.

Nobody should feel entitled to buy an animal that clearly isn’t for sale. That’s just not okay and they’re in the wrong for getting upset over it.


My animals are 100% my pets. I do refer to them as a collection because I think it’s a fun comparison to, like, Pokémon cards or something, but that doesn’t mean I actually equate them to an inanimate object. I personally will only keep the number of animals that I can reasonably care for and still get enjoyment from. If I could have 100 pet dogs, I definitely would! I love dogs, but I know I wouldn’t be able to care for that number because dogs are a lot of work. So I stick to one or two at a time. But with snakes, I can easily care for dozens (although I currently only have 10) before it becomes too much for me. Some people can devote more time or have more space and therefore can own more. So as long as the animals are getting adequate or more than adequate care, I don’t think it counts as hoarding. And as far as buying and selling, I don’t do either lightly, but due to the non social nature of most reptiles, I don’t really have a problem with other people trading, buying, or selling, provided that quarantine practices are in place.


I am not ashamed to call myself a breeder and I don’t see anything wrong with reselling animals who no longer fit into my plans. I continually “upgrade” my collection. For example, if I produce or acquire a male visual GX Paint KSB, I may find I no longer need my double het male. I would resell him. He would go on to further the collection of someone else who can put him to use as a breeder or enjoy him as a treasured pet. I would of course do my best to ensure that he would go to a good home where he would receive proper care. I do understand the desire to hang on to a certain special animal now and then. We have a female het Anery Splash that we will probably never sell, because she was our first KSB, even though we now have 5 females with higher genetics than hers. I also have a very strong attachment to my original Argentine BCO pair, who I have had for almost a decade, and I raised them from when they were a few weeks old.

This quote kind of bothers me. I would never care for my animals in a way that I wouldn’t recommend to customers. I believe that rack systems were perfectly acceptable for the types of snakes that I work with and have no problem recommending this style of caging to others. If I didn’t believe that racks were appropriate for others to use, why would I keep my own animals that way?

In the same vein, I expect my customers to provide the animals I sell with care that meets my own standards. If a potential describes a set up that I feel is inappropriate, and I can’t change their mind, that could kill the sale.


This year is the first year of breeding my reptiles despite owning reptiles for many years. It will be so hard to sell some of them, but I am breeding them to get my end goals.

Some people might change their direction, or the offspring just might not be working out how they had originally thought… But someone else might be able to do something with that reptile and the reptile could be more loved in that new home (we all have our favourites).

I plan to breed what I can keep but I will also try to sell any that don’t fit in with my breeding plans, if they don’t sell they will stay :grin: just won’t be bred. All my Reptiles are pets, breeding them is just a bonus.

I guess the term collection could be used because of how many there are? I haven’t used this term before as I say mini zoo. I’ve always wanted lots of pets, but quality of life will always come before quantity.


I probably overgeneralized that statement a bit too much — I mean that I would encourage pet keepers to provide a more enriching setup than what I have for my snakes. I keep mine in racks, on paper towels, with nothing else in there but their water bowls. Many “pet keepers” see this as a bad setup because there’s no enrichment for the snakes.

Not that I think there’s anything wrong with my setups — but I think pet keepers should go above and beyond with their enclosures if they have the means to, because they usually dedicate more time and space to each of their pets. If they get into breeding? Sure, make the switch over to racks, or even keep your breeders in enclosures while you keep the offspring in the racks.


So far I’m a pet owner before breeder. My animals are all pets and I breed them which I think is awesome. My personal interests are working with a large number of species but for the most part few animals per species. As long as I still enjoy and care for the animals then I don’t see a problem with that. I’m not losing interest or depleting their care. If someone chooses to look at their entire collection as their enjoyment rather than the individual animals that’s also fine. They’re usually the people that don’t name their animals (which there’s nothing wrong with) but still care for and enjoy them. Most animals can be sold since they don’t have an individual attachment to them. As long as they’re all getting an amazing quality of life then it doesn’t really matter what someone thinks of them.

Breeders usually keep their animals in smaller minimalistic setups that work great. However pet owners will be better able to take care of them in larger setups. It takes more work to keep an animal stress free in a rack system but most breeders are able to accomplish it. Most pet owners (and some hobbyists) would rather keep their animals in larger enclosures to view the animals.


I agree with this :100: I have space for 25 adult females in order to complete projects and goals I have with breeding some adult breeders have to get sold to make room for holdbacks. I think this is pretty standard operations for a small to mid sized breeder.

I feel like this isn’t a correct statement I don’t believe it is any harder. And I also believe some individual snakes do better in a minimal rack setup.

Also would like to say just because a breeder has to make space doesn’t mean they care any less for the well-being of there captives.


I don’t consider any group of living creatures as one’s collection. To me the sound of it belittles the charm and enjoyment of having companions of a species different to one’s own. It makes the animals sound a bit too much like inanimate objects to be collected, traded and such rather than a living creature to be respected admired and cared for in the proper manner. These are living creatures that deserve the best respect, care and love, not baseball cards that move, breathe, eat, poop, sleep and reproduce.

I lean more towards the idea that all animals are kinda pets of the breeder or whoever until they are sold or given to someone else. I barely consider herp/invert keeping as much of a hobby to be honest…its kinda similar to having a dog, cat or a more common pet animal. Those in the herp/invert “hobby” just choose to associate themselves with the inhabitants of a different branch of the tree of biological beings than what others are familliar with or used to. It’s like keeping a dog or cat with scales or venom or a different number of legs/different features and abilities with different husbandry requirements.

All animals no matter how basic they are deserve respect care and admiration.

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I think it is harder because if you don’t clean poop immediately in a rack the snake will likely be somewhat stressed. In a large tank the snake would easily be able to avoid it and an owner could go for weeks without cleaning it (not recommending that they do). Owners that keep snakes in tanks also say that they rarely (if ever) refuse food. It would make it easier for a new owner because the snake would be easier to care for. I agree that some snakes do better in a rack system but usually it’s because of change. A snake raised from birth and spending years in a rack will ultimately do better in a rack. However a snake that was only in a rack for months could adjust to either one and ultimately be better in a tank. I agree that as long as the animals are cared for they can be kept any way. As pets, breeders, temporary inhabitants, etc.


I check every single tub in my rack system 3 times a day. Doesn’t take long to do so none of my snakes go without water or have waste in there tub. This is also why my collection stays a set number because I know I can provide for all of them. So this makes cycling breeders essential for me to complete projects. Doesn’t mean I like the snakes any less or don’t want to keep them all. It’s a necessary part of my program that ensures all captives are provided excellent care.


100% pet keeper before a breeder. If I do breed, all of my animals will be truly pets of mine. They all will hold unspoken value because of the fact. Even the babies that I would produce would cared for as pets in my care and would go to homes and/or breeders that would care for they as such. They are living animals, they have value just because they have life.


I totally agree. Breeders and experienced keepers (like you) have the habit of checking all of their tubs at least daily (or sometimes more). However a new owner might not be in the habit or underestimates the care of them. And also most new/pet owners want to see their reptiles. They would put their snakes in tanks so they could see their full behaviors. Breeders and rack users still enjoy and love the animals however they prefer to care for them, breed them, and have more of them rather than have large enclosures for all of them and witness more natural behaviors.


I totally agree, that’s bananas.

I think we’re all cool with that. What about the inverse, though? Getting called out for declining to sell, as the OP indicated? That seems out of bounds to me.

Are we sure those details are correct, OP? Because, that’s sort of hard to believe, frankly. I’ll take you at your word, and if that’s literally what happened then I’d feel bent af about it, personally.

Personally, I don’t think it’s acceptable to make an offer on an animal that isn’t for sale, much let get pissy when the unwanted offer is declined.


Dang, way to set a bar up high.
I check mine every ~2 days. That is to say half on even days, the other half on odd days, ostensibly, with feeding schedules that are roughly similar.
I do a sniff check daily, I run a carbon filter for the air in the room. If I smell anything funky I hunt it down, regardless of “schedule.” But dang, I don’t think a lot of folks can honestly say they check every tub every day, no less thrice.


It honestly doesn’t take that much time. Check them all when I get up in the morning, once after work, and once before I go to bed. Don’t think I’m setting the bar high more obsessive compulsive lol


Like @jeremyjacob I only check maybe 4 times a week, more for smaller/younger snakes than for large adults who don’t defecate very often.


I agree @saleengrinch
For everyone else honestly how long does it take to check a tub even if you have 100. Open and look for 3ish seconds and go to the next one.
I feel seeing the animals tends to connect you to them more also