Snake Rescue- advice on setup

How difficult is it to open a reptile rescue? What are some of the steps you know. If you know anything Ohio specifically that would be awesome. Thank you in advance.


How much disposable income do you have, and can you devote a lot of time, money, space and manpower to it? Rescue is hard, especially if you want to set up something like a 501c3. Ohio has a PDF about setting up a non-profit. I suggest starting there.

Before you do anything, check out the local area first and see if there is a need. Look at other rescues in the area, what species seem to need help most often, if there is a demand for space. If you’re going to focus on a specific species, make sure those animals are actually being surrendered or you’ll have a rescue with no occupants.

You’ll have to figure out what you need as far as licensing, insurance, if your state requires permits for any species, etc. You’ll have to document pretty much everything, save every receipt, keep solid records. You’ll have to budget, invest, and save for equipment, vet care, fees, enclosures, feeders, etc. You’ll need to find a reliable herp vet near you. Plan out your space in which you’ll keep these rescues, what your quarantine procedures need to be, emergency plans for every possible scenario (weather/power outage/fire). Have ideas for fundraising if you plan to go that route, and make sure you know what you’ll need to document tax wise.

This is just what I can think of off the top of my head at the moment. It also takes a lot of emotional strength to do rescue. You will end up seeing how awful people can be, you will lose animals, it wears at anyone if you do it long enough. It’s not for everyone, but it can be incredibly rewarding if you have the drive and capabilities!


Here is another possible option. Do you already have a reptile vet? If so, and if you have a good relationship with your vet, you could maybe start a reptile rehabilitation agreement. Having worked for a reptile vet in the past, I have seen this sort of thing.

Sadly there are lots of snakes, etc brought to my vet by pet stores and pet owners who just don’t want to spend the money or time on sick reptiles so they opt to euthanize. This is a shame because a lot of the time there is not much wrong with the reptile that a little rehabilitation couldn’t fix.

Of course the next step would be to re home the animal and rescue groups could help with that. I don’t know what the legalities of doing this would be but I am sure your vet would be knowledgeable about the details.

If you went this route you would be saving animals from imminent death and then finding them hopefully forever homes.

This is just a suggestion. I hope you achieve your goal with whatever route you take!

Caron. :lizard::frog::snake::wink::blush:


I do reptile rescues in OR, and it is a lot of work, but I love it. You are going to need A LOT of space, even if you use racks for some species, there are others that need a full enclosure with heat, uvb, basking lights, etc… And those things get expensive rather quickly. If you get a small BP and it doesn’t need much in the way of rehabilitation, it’s pretty easy. Getting a bearded dragon can be kind of a pain, let alone 14 at once (true story). Larger snakes and lizards make for even more work. And you’ll need to know and be able to provide proper husbandry for all of them.

As for how I get these animals, I allow surrender, I’ve made connections with herp vets in my area for animals people don’t want to pay to treat, and county animal control (they don’t really have the means to properly care for reptiles) when they get reptiles in either by surrender or confiscated.

Mentioned by someone else, but worth restating, you need a herp vet. Finding one can sometimes be difficult, and money needs to be put aside for emergencies and medicine. You will also need to know how to administer medication, apply first aid, treat malnourished or dehydrated animals, wound care, things of that nature. And you need to be prepared for the worst… I’ve had snakes brought to me severally burned and one with a chewed through spine. In these cases you need to be prepared to have them euthanized, which is absolutely heartbreaking.

Rehoming the animals is also something you need to seriously consider. How much will you charge? Cost of care only, or do you want to be reimbursed for your time? Will you charge more for certain species, or are all of them equal? Do you have a venue at which to sell the animals (stores, reptile shows, out of your home)? And you need to consider who the animal is going home with, oftentimes these animals have been through a lot, and they deserve to go home with someone competent, not another little kid that loves turtles today and is bored tomorrow.

I know there are probably a lot of things I haven’t put here, but I’ve tried to be pretty thorough. Rescuing animals is very rewarding, but I find reptiles to be specifically in need. Everyone knows how to take care of a cat, but a monitor lizard is a whole different story and it varies wildly between species.

I wish you all the luck in the world on your venture. It takes a lot of heart to do this kind of work