Money Saving Tips

What are some tips/tricks you have found to help save money in the hobby? Especially those of you that have larger collections, I would love to hear your input.

When I first jumped in years back, I fell sucker to purchasing so many “reptile specific” items that have a huge markup. Fast forward and I’m well aware that these things are not only unnecessary but a hindrance to a growing collection if you have to throw so much capital into the little things. Just a few notable changes that have helped me:
-Using PVC end caps of various sizes for water bowls for new babies instead of buying an expensive “reptile specific” bowl that looks like a rock
-Sourcing fake plants from craft stores (no heavy dye, glitter etc.) rather than any pet store.
-Making hides from repurposed containers instead of purchasing premade hides

Doesn’t have to be specifically related to setting up an enclosure, but those are a few notable ones that came to mind. Please drop any advice within the hobby that you’ve found helpful to your pocket book over the years.

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Hand held steam cleaner for cleaning. Disinfects and breaks loose grime for easy cleaning. Everyone should have one.

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Noted! And sounds like it would save money in the long run by nullifying a lot of nastiness that could pop-up in your collection if your hand scrubbing isn’t up to par.

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This sounds very obvious but starting colonies/cultures or breeding feeders to save money. A lot of money is spent buying feeders when it would be cheaper to breed your own or start a culture of them. Also with bioactive enclosures starting your own isopod and springtail cultures to seed the new enclosures instead of buying the same isopods and springtails time and time again.

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Not necessarily so obvious for those just breaking into the hobby, that’s a good suggestion! At what point did you realize the cost (time and money) to maintain a colony of any sort was going to be more cost effective than purchasing feeders for your collection?

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I first figured that it’d be more cost effective with isopods and springtails for my bioactive enclosures, for my first bioactive I thought that all of the isopods were eaten so I figured instead of adding more isopods over and over it’d be easier to just start small colonies in 6 qt tubs and seed the bioactives essentially for free.
With dubia roaches I haven’t put a lot of money in buying them yet since I only have a few geckos that would eat them. But when I start getting hatchlings and buying more breeders I figured that I’d be needing about 100 roaches per week, about $20. That cost adds up to $1000 per year which is a lot of money for something that I can start a colony of. I decided the cost of starting a colony would only be $50-$100 (more roaches earlier saves time later) and wait for about 8-12 months and I’d have a solid colony producing. I haven’t actually started a roach colony yet but I’m planning on starting one in the next month or so.
As far as time goes, so far the isopods only take about 10 minutes to maintain every 3 days for 3 small colonies. I’m estimating the roaches would only take about 1.5 hours per week (normal colony setup) or about 30 minutes per week (experimental bioactive colony, would probably have much less production). It usually takes at least 30 minutes to buy roaches or over an hour for isopods because I have to go to expos to get them. Overall it’s only a little bit more time and it saves lots of money.

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Sounds like you’ve certainly weighed the pros and cons and are going to be frugal yet prolific with your production. I don’t know if a roach colony would ever be so cost effective for me due to the allergen risk, but the isopod and springtail colonies are already in the works on my end too!

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I agree :100: with @erie-herps, no matter what you keep if you have a large collection breeding feeders is what will save you the most money. You have to have them every week. Plus it’s more convenient and you can trust your food source!!!

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The #1 thing that has helped me save a ton of money is to buy the things I need in bulk.

I had a friend who was really into guns and ammo. He made a spreadsheet with some simple calculations built in that helped him get the best deal on ammo from a few of his favorite places online. You can easily do that for the online rodent suppliers, especially the ones that charge flat rate shipping. Get yourself a chest freezer and then make sure that you are checking the websites every 1-2 weeks for the deals or overstock sales. One of my favorite suppliers actually announced a New Years sale on FB and IG this past weekend. Stock up when you can, its not like they aren’t going to be consumed.

For those of you who use the disposable deli cups, you can save about 50% off the case price by going to a restaurant supply place. Now these aren’t open to the public and you will most likely need to provide them with your EIN or business license, but the prices are low and obviously they drop even lower when you buy in quantity. I buy deli cups, gloves, shop towels, etc. at 25-50% below internet retail.

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@samuraiwack I was hesitant about the allergies too, I decided I’m going to try a bioactive setup with them, having isopods, springtails, and plants in there, you essentially wouldn’t ever have to clean the container which would make it quite hard or impossible to develop allergies. To actually collect the roaches, you’d take a plastic cup and scoop up substrate, bugs and all and put it in another container, you’d then take the roaches, and then put the males and a few females in another container (to keep the population around a male:female ratio of about 1:7-9). You’d then take that container and just feed out of it and every time it runs out (probobally at the end of the week) you’d refill it again.
I just thought of looking this up to see if anybody has tried this before and it turns out there’s actually a kit to do this.


(non-affiliated link)

I’d think with this method you would never actually develop allergies, the production might be lower since the roaches would have a harder time finding each other but once it’s well started production should be high as long as you’d be able to collect enough small roaches.

I’d think a bioactive colony would be able to encourage people (myself included) with hesitations about starting a colony due to the allergies to start a colony and end up saving money.

@saleengrinch That’s a good point about trusting the food source, both in health and in reliability to have stock. I’d think that during hatching season, stock of the suppliers would go down because people are buying way more to feed all of the hatchlings and their breeding or colonies still produce at the same rate.

@projectpython I’d never thought of the restaurant supplier. It always is a good idea to look for other uses of the same product. For example you can get much larger quantities for a lower price of mealworms and bsfl on farm sites to feed to chickens than reptile sites for reptiles.

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In full agreement in buying in bulk especially for feeders. I’ve currently got the rodent freezer with plans of starting up a colony. With non-feeder supplies, I too have found that sourcing from places that are not necessarily animal/pet specific lends itself to huge savings as you’ve mentioned. The one aspect where I have yet to make that jump is sourcing substrate from non-animal specific stores. I always retain an inkling of concern that it could have mite issues or remnant chemicals present. Any tips specifically for sourcing cheap bulk substrate from outside the hobby like grow stores, hardware stores, tree farms etc?

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THIS!! A good one to keep in my back pocket for when my bug eaters start to require a large enough supply.

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Good question, but no, I haven’t looked into it in detail. Several years ago I read a post where someone had been able to set up a wholesale account with Harlan Teklad for wood bedding. IIRC the price savings was amazing, but the person ended up not being able to take advantage of it because the minimum order was so enormous. Those big bags of aspen are big, I doubt most people have the space to store 100+ bags.

The only place I have been able to save some money on substrate is the 10 pack of Reptichip. If you get the 10-pack, the price drops to $19. I was thinking of becoming a distributor, so I bought a bunch to re-sell at some of the local shows just as a test. After half a dozen shows, I hadn’t sold one block, so I gave up on the idea.

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