So you want to buy a reptile...(a guide)

So @eaglereptiles just gave me the go-ahead to release this into the wild. This guide has been a collaborative effort between @eaglereptiles, @saleengrinch, @mblaney, @nathan_e, and I (let me know if I forgot anybody!)

Deciding what to buy

Some suggestions for determining which animal will best suite your lifestyle

How many hours of care will you be able to put in?
  • Some reptiles will require significant time investments over the course of their life.

  • Are you ready to care for the animal for the remainder of its lifespan, or do you have plans if you are unable to keep it?

  • What will you do for care if you need to travel or take a vacation?

How much available space do you have?
  • Measure the space you have available and compare this with the specific needs of the animal you want to purchase.

  • Are you able to house the animal at its adult size, if you’re buying a juvenile?

  • Remember that you will need to have easy access to a power supply near to the location you plan on using. See Electrical Safety Relating to Reptiles for additional information.

Feeder availability
  • Will you be able to regularly get ahold of F/T rabbits, live ASFs, crickets, or whatever feeders your reptile of choice will require?

  • Are you able to handle watching live prey die, or do you need a herbivorous pet? What about the rest of your family? While some animals will do fine on frozen/thawed prey, others will require live prey. This can depend on the species, and sometimes even the individual animal.

Are you looking to get a pet or a breeder?

(link to separate thread with more details coming)

Will you be able to comfortable and safely handle this animal?
  • Some species, such as reticulated pythons, are incredibly large, heavy and strong. Are you strong and experienced enough to be able to handle this animal safely?

  • Some species are venomous and the effects being bitten could hazardous to your health. Do you have the skills and training necessary to work with this type of animal safely?

  • Along with being able to comfortably handle, are you able to clean the enclosure regularly?

Who will be caring for the reptile?

If you have children, they will need close monitoring, as reptiles are very sensitive to husbandry errors and can all carry Salmonella

Can you afford the vet bills when something goes wrong, because, realistically, something will.

Tenfold the case for a new herper.

Do you know how to best acclimate the pet to it's new home with you?

Who to buy from:

Finding local breeders

Finding a breeder local to you is a great option. This not only gives you the chance to meet the seller
face to face and building relationships within the community, it reduces the likelihood of being caught by a scammer and also allows you to see the conditions and husbandry that your purchase is coming from.

There are a few ways to find breeders nearby:


Using the “Nearby” search filters:

Finding trusted breeders.

Buying from a well known and respected breeder is the best way to guarantee that the animal you are buying is correctly advertised and has had the up most care given too it, which in turn makes it a lot easier transitioning a reptile to a new home.

There are many ways to go about finding trusted breeders on the marketplace:

  • Morphmarket Seller Rating will show you a list of recent transactions and the buyers review on the seller.

  • Find a Seller’s Ratings by clicking on the rating field near the top of their store page. To find a seller’s store page, look for the link on one of their ads. Alternately, all member stores as well as stores in developing categories can be located in the Seller Directory.

  • Social media such as Instagram is a great way to both find snakes and see how the seller keeps them. If they are a trusted name they will likely have a link in their bio to their Morphmarket store, and vice versa. It is highly recommended that you check out the social media page of anyone you plan on purchasing from and make your own mind on how they operate.

Should I buy from Craigslist/Facebook?

Often small breeders or individuals looking to rehome an animal may list it on local web pages, such as Craigslist or Facebook. While this can be seen as an opportunity to get a good deal on animal someone may have to sell quickly, it also opens you up to a larger possibility of getting scammed, ending up with an unhealthy animal, or an otherwise misrepresented animal. Should you decide to buy a reptile from one of these websites, it’s even more important to do due diligence in making sure everything checks out.

How shipping works.

Sellers are expected to use responsible shipping practices which is important for our entire industry. Reading through How to Ship Live Reptiles will give you a understanding of what to expect as a buyer.


Once terms have been agreed you must arrange a time and date with the seller when you will be available at your home to receive the overnight shipment.

In the unusual event of a problem, you must usually notify the breeder within 1 hour of the delivery.

  • Shipping is unavoidably expensive because overnight delivery is required to ensure the well-being of the animal. Rates on overnight shipping for baby ball pythons are typically $50-$70 for domestic shipments depending on the distance. Some sellers have better rates due to shipping a larger volume of animals. Smaller sellers don’t have this ability.

  • Some sellers provide flat shipping rates for the entire continental US. Others may include this amount in their price and call it free shipping. This is nice because it saves a step of having them compute shipping costs for you.

  • You will need to arrange a time with the seller when you can be present to receive the animal. This will usually be in the morning between 10 and 12am.

  • Some sellers will ship to hubs instead in order to keep the package in a climate controlled facility. This is something to discuss with the seller before purchasing. Their policies may not allow otherwise.

  • Overnight shipments are typically sent only on Monday-Thursday so that they can be received in one business day.

Sometimes, hot or cold weather can cause delays. Each breeder sets their own policies on when they can ship.

Read more about shipping, weather, and other expectations.

Planning delivery day.

When your animal arrives you should already have a enclosure set up and tested for the past week+.
The most important things to consider at this time is Quarantining.

For the first week or two you will benefit greatly from leaving your new animal to settling to its new surroundings, disturbing only to change water daily. Feeding attempts during this period can increase stress, whether they eat or not, and can cause issues later on.

Questions to ask before buying:

What is the hatch date?

Some breeders will just list the year and you may want to know exactly how old your reptile is for record keeping purposes or breeding

What morph is it?

If you think you might forget, either take a screenshot of the posting or if you buy in person, have the breeder write it down on the back of their business card

What is it eating?
  • Size, weight, how often, F/T, etc.

  • If it’s a hatchling, how many meals has it eaten?

  • Has it ever gone off food?

Has it ever had any health problems, or been under veterinary care?

Be aware of a reptile’s health history to avoid buying an unhealthy animal or to be prepared for any chronic issues you may encounter.

I also want to breed this snake -> ask more questions

What pairing produced this snake?

This is important, especially with morphs that are complicated combos. There may be hidden genes that aren’t immediately evident, but will pop up in the offspring. Ask for pictures of parents to see what to expect from this snake as it ages out.

Is it a good example of the morph?

There can be a significant amount of variation even within the same morph, some may show more complex or reduced patterns, while others may fade or “brown out” with age. If this is animal you plan on building a breeding program around, it’s important to choose an animal that represents the morph well.

Does this animal fit into my breeding program?

Before purchasing an animal to breed, figure out what role it will play in your breeding program. Are there certain genes or traits that this reptile needs to have, or certain ones you need select away from in order to avoid creating unhealthy offspring? Is this a good quality animal that encompasses the traits you wish to breed and sell?

Spotting scams

Making a purchase

Fairly priced animals

What is a fairly priced animal? A price that reflects the animals potential as either a pet or a breeder and takes into account health, value of that particular morph/color/variety, wild caught vs captive bred, etc. A reptile being sold as “pet only”, or that may have health issues should not be priced the same as one that has been raised with plans to breed. Be cautious with animals being sold for well under market value as they may be a scam, misidentified morphs, or have health problems.

How to pay for a reptile you bought online

Most buyers will request payment through Paypal…
Inquiry Best Practices
What Buyers Can Expect
Researching Online Reptile Sellers

Happy holidays and happy reptile buying!