The Snake I Sold Died, Suggestions?

Hey, all.

I’ll try to keep this short. I sold an adult female western hognose to a customer that was doing fine with me on smaller bi-weekly meals (as her previous owner was feeding her pinkie rats weekly). They contacted me today, 22 days after receiving her, to let me know that she died.

Apparently, they offered a small/medium mouse 4 days after she arrived and she regurgitated. They waited a couple of days and offered again to get another regurgitation. Before selling her, I did send out fecal swabs to test for Crypto and Adenovirus, and both results were negative. I think the meals might have been too big for her, but the customer insists they were not because it was the right size for her. However, she wasn’t used to larger meals (despite being larger, I was working her towards getting better-sized meals). They stopped offering meals after those 2 regurgitations.

In my store policy, I do offer a 72-hour health guarantee. Any health concerns need to be brought up within 24 hours of receiving the animal. Now my main issue is that they only contacted me now after the snake died. If they had reached out to me previously when the issue first started, I would be more inclined to issue a reimbursement (they asked for their money back if the vet comes back with a positive crypto or adenovirus result). Even so, I don’t know what to do because I did test the snake properly, maintain quarantine, and personally didn’t have any issues with her.

I’m kind of at a loss at what to do. For now, I asked for pictures of the snake and the meal size (meal definitely might have been too big compared to what she was used to) and to keep me posted on the vet results. I just want to find a happy medium, but also protect myself? Please send help.

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Honestly 22 days is to long … you have the test results still I assume… which means even if theirs comes back positive the animal could have picked it up due to their negligence not yours. There is a reason we as breeders have a time frame for health guarantee… Once these animals leave our facilities (healthy) it is up to the new owner to do right by them. They should have been in contact after the first regurgitation imo, and then got proper advice to how to handle the situation. It is all He said She said at this point, and I don’t work with Hognose, but if the meal was to large plus the fact that they offered another meal so soon after of the same size screams red flags for me. Then to decide to not feed or contact you after the 2nd time is on them also.

Stand by your store policy… that’s what is for.

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22 days later, it isn’t your issue in my opinion. If it regurgitated I’d be more inclined to think poor husbandry than meal size right off the top. Also…hogs just die and that’s not a secret in the hobby…they do it a lot more often than other common species in the hobby. One day maybe we’ll understand their issues better, but I know a few hog breeders and they all experience occasional unexpected deaths. In my opinion, they’re a gamble and you can’t upset if one dies. They also made a dire mistake in offering a meal so soon after a regurgitation.

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Thank you so much for the feedback. I do still have the results and sent them a copy of the results (with important personal info blurred out). We do have the store policy in place and I did verify to make sure that everything was covered on my end. It just really sucks that they didn’t contact me. I asked why they didn’t contact me before she died and they said that she was still acting spunky and they were gonna take her to the vet first…

I appreciate the second opinion. That gives me peace of mind.

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I’m still surprised they offered the same size meal just a few days later and were surprised that she regurgitated… I have had some hoggies simply not do well with “normal” sized meals before, so I always stick to the smaller end of the spectrum when possible. I appreciate heating feedback that they waited too long to contact me about any problems.

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When they regurgitate it damages (‘hardens’ is the term I’ve heard smarter men than me use) the lining of the stomach among all of the other negative impacts to the body/metabolism. Offering another meal so soon, that was then regurgitated seems likely to cause more severe damage. All this was done to animal that was still dealing with the stress of shipping and metabolizing all of the stress hormones that come with that.

Based on what you’ve said so far, this is simple bad husbandry on their part.

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I 100% agree with this! Just remember to come off as you are understanding. You don’t want them to badly rate you. So have empathy but stand by your store policy.

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That’s the thing that shocked me the most. She was an eager eater, so I can understand her eating so soon without any issue, but usually when there is a regurgitation, it’s standard to wait 2 weeks and then when offering a meal, for it to be a smaller than normal meal… It’s a bit reassuring to hear this from others, as this is my first experience with an animal I sold dying.

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I will do my best to try that. It’s quite hard to let them know I understand but can’t reimburse them.

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That is a terrible situation to find yourself. As soon as the 2nd immediate feeding was mentioned they lost any chance at a refund in my opinion. Worst thing about this is the death of the animal.

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You can understand that their care cost her life. You see their care unfitting, so you don’t have to reimburse them for that.

I am sure that it can be written in a way that is compassionate of their situation but can’t reimburse them based on the situation.

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It truly does hurt me that she died. I already got proof of her death in photos and it breaks my heart. I had followed up with them a few days after they received her and everything was fine. If they had opened up any form of communication previously before all of this happened, I would’ve been more willing to work with them, but they waited until she died. I asked why they didn’t contact me and they said that she was still spunky and had a vet appointment set (and they would’ve reached out to us after that).

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I appreciate that answer. They do have other hognoses and that’s the main issue; they keep comparing this individual to their others. I think that explaining we can’t reimburse them because they didn’t let us know anything was wrong is a fair way to explain it.

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It is extremely unlikely that the regurgitation killed the animal in question. Though I do agree, the attempt to feed so soon after receiving the animal and the re-feeding attempt suggest they are inexperienced. Why did you perform fecals for this animal prior to shipping?

If it were me, and I had an animal die within the first 30 days, I might not expect and a refund, but I also wouldn’t deal with that breeder ever again. I would suggest a compromise rather than a flat out fall back on your terms.

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It was from a group sale and I test anything new that comes through my collection, so I wanted to make sure they were all healthy prior to selling them.

Yeah, my main thing is definitely trying to find a middle ground, though he isn’t necessarily being nice about things either. I just wish he had talked to me before the animal died.

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I personally would just double down on my store policy. If you don’t do that then you are basically admitting you did something wrong with the snake in your care. Tell the dude what he did wrong (feeding so soon after a regurg and whatever else wrong he may have done) and move on. I doubt you would want to sell anything to him again given a snake died so soon in his care, so if he never wants to buy from you again consider it a good thing. If he is being rude about things that just gives more of a reason not to give him what he wants.

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How much time was there from when you received the animal and you resold it?

It’s admirable that you performed the fecal for crypto and adenovirus, but there are a wide variety of diseases that might come into play here. Some parasitic infections can take multiple fecals to before they are diagnosed and virals can appear negative until there is sufficient load in the host for a detectable result.

As others have pointed out, you can likely comfortably fall back on your “store policy”, but you have to ask yourself if that’s the right thing all things considered. The buyer is upset and that’s understandable, but that really shouldn’t factor in your decision either way.

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Unless the buyer wants to pay for a necropsy to prove it was a pre-existing issue and not something they did, then I don’t see how following ones store policy isn’t the right thing to do. @urbandinos has no way of knowing if they did more than just try to feed it too large of meals to cause its death, and therefore shouldn’t feel responsible or be made to feel guilty about anything. If someone buys from a seller they automatically agree to their ToS. The buyer is at fault for not saying anything sooner, as well as trying to feed too large of meals after a regurg. Given that rookie mistake I wouldn’t be surprised if something else could have happened to lead to its death. If the buyer refuses to do a necropsy and demands a refund adamantly instead, that tells me they are hiding something.

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In all honesty, you are not responsible for anything 22 days after the sale. The new owners husbandry may have been off, they may have offered food too soon after shipment, they may have had a disease or illness in there collection prior to them receiving the snake. I am a private breeder and have the following policy in place, If animal passes or is proven ill within 48 hours, I refund the sale amount. After 96 hours I no longer accept any responsibility for the animal. Once again, as far as I am concerned, no guilt on your side.

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Im kind of in the middle here. I feel the normal 48-96 hours is far too short of a time frame when its impossible to get a vet visit within a week for some. How would the average owner be able to identify an illness that quickly? On the other hand, 48-96 hours is plenty of time to notice a snake acting off (though, very often i believe the average person will just attribute this to being shipped, and still say nothing until at least a week has passed).

However, the flip side is bad husbandry usually wont kill within 48-96 hours (unless its really bad) but past a week it can cause severe health problems. So its kind of a catch 22. If you give more time to bring up problems to you policy, its more fair to the layman that doesnt deal with dozens of snakes, but its less fair to you, because now you can get claims against you due to their own bad husbandry.

In this sense, I agree with the general consensus. Pick a store policy and stick to it. Could it be more lenient to the buyer? Sure. But it doesnt have to be. At the end of the day you are a business, and if you want to survive, you need to act like it. Refusing to give the buyer what they want will likely lead to a negative review, neutral at best if they are not acting courteously. Obviously exceptions to policy can be made, but id wait for more evidence that it wasnt their fault before considering going back on your policy.

My personal opinion is any health policy shouldnt be based on the date of vet verification, but rather, the date an issue is brought up, and then a reasonable window from there for the animal to get a vet appointment. This allows for the buyer to set a vet appointment, but gives them incentive to contact you immediately. Some sellers prefer the animal be sent back so they can care for it, or prefer to stay in contact about possible treatment as it could be a common and easy to solve problem. Had they contacted you sooner, there is far more you could have done. 22 days to even bring up an issue is too long.

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