So back to March of this year, I hatched two clutches, 14 babies in total.
I’ve sold almost all of them at this point, most of the customers are at least experienced with ball python care.
The most recent sale was to someone who’d never had a snake before, they asked me to basically tell them how to care for a ball python, I sell to people who are new of course, that’s the only way the reptile community will grow.
But they aren’t listening to crucial information!
They tried to feed him just 3 days after they bought him! I specifically told them wait AT LEAST a week. The snake is on F/t pup rats and they bought him A MEDIUM RAT!
Then 3 days later they tried again! I told them not to, and then they asked why his eyes were turning blue, I told them he’s shedding, don’t try to feed him until he sheds and they’re worried he’s gonna starve.
Anyways a little rant on ignorance, I realize you’ve gotta learn somehow but gosh
I made mistakes when I was new to snake keeping too.
I hear ya! You just want to help, and we all do. None of us mind talking to new or experienced people about reptiles. (Obviously ) Sometimes no matter what you do, or how much you try to help, it just doesn’t work. I like new customers to ball python’s personally because I could point them to my website(or a site I trust) and care sheet even before the purchase so I know at least I have provided them with information I trust. Rather then having to suggest they don’t follow some of the questionable information they have already seen and decided on. Also I try to, especially with newbie’s check in on them around the 2 week mark, to see how they are doing. I find sometimes contacting them first opens up communication better. I always will answer any emails or texts with questions, but alot of times the customer doesn’t contact you first. That’s my usual routine. Sounds to me like in your situation the customers are communicating with you fine, just not listening/using your advice-which is a shame! The bottom line is to make sure you as a seller went above and beyond to try to help and if the customer isn’t receptive that’s too bad but not on you in any way!
That is a great idea @zer0stark7 & @buckeyeballs My only advice, especially for a newer to reptiles customer is to keep it simple. Back in the days before a lot of smart phones, I used to either email or print and give customers a simple care sheet with a timeline of when to first offer your new snake food, handle ect.
Sadly a lot of first time snake owners can freak out about feeding schedules. They come from a place of owning a mammal or bird that needs to eat every day, or if you’re lucky, a lizard that eats every couple of days and makes it a bit easier…but the entire no food all week or not seeing poop for 2 weeks thing can be something they just can’t wrap their heads around. And that makes then freak out.
I hope they eventually start getting over the helicopter parenting and just let the snake be a snake sooner than later.
While I save numbers and emails from anyone who’s ever bought an animal from me and encourage them to reach out if they need anything, moving forward I’m including a care sheet regardless of whether they say they’ve had ball pythons before or not.
Someone bought an 7 month old male from me this spring who was doing great, eating flawlessly on weaned rats, no issues. I got a text from them this winter that they thought the snake was dying and they wanted to buy a replacement. They said it was doing great orignally, eating well, but more recently wouldn’t eat and had injuries on its back. Obviously I was concerned and asked for information and tried to help them trouble shoot what could have gone wrong. Was it a burn from a heat source? Some type of skin or shedding issue?? They said it looked like it had been attacked. At this point I had a sinking feeling that I knew what had happened and they didn’t want to admit it, so I asked point blank if they were feeding live and if they left the snake unattended with live rodents. Sure enough, he had left the snake alone with several??? live mice without checking to make sure he ate. And then apparently didn’t even think to seek any medical attention for the poor snake. I sent him the info for a good reptile vet that I trust and told him he needed to make an appointment immediately, but I’m still just so upset over it. I hope he ends up being ok
So I am sorry but I have to vent here. This story literally makes me sick. I can’t imagine what that poor snake went through and is going through. I do so hope it’s owners seek medical attention ASAP! Would you have the grounds not to sell them another one? Or would that be against MM etiquette or your policy/standards or am I going just off the deep end here?
100% when I first got a beardie I did my research but the care guide I was given was highly highly useful! I recommend also trying to double down on what your saying to try to help them understand, I think they may just be very uneasy! I made a mistake similar to this and handled my beardie on THE SECOND DAY OF ME HAVING HIM and I also tried to feed him on the first day, I obviously should not have held him on the second day of me having him, but it went surprisingly went well, honestly I would recommend waiting at least 2 weeks before handling, thats my advice!
I would suggest you create a care sheet (one that you update as new, stupid questions get asked). Provide that care sheet and refer them to either email, DM, or text when they have questions. The point being that you want a record of the information you are providing them and how they are responding, that way when they get on social media and attempt to destroy your reputation and business you have documentation that demonstrates your attempts at offering clear suggestions and their obvious inability to understand written instruction.
The research should be done prior to buying the animal. I can understand people that have unexpectedly ended up with a rescue animal needing extra help but to buy a snake and not know why it’s eyes have turned blue is kinda crazy. We have the internet so ignorance shouldn’t be an excuse. I can understand your frustration. Hopefully they start researching and the snake has everything it could ever need… Or they put it on craigslist because they " didn’t have time for it"
Here is what i some times email new snake owners. I know its for boas but you could just change it to ball python if you want.
I also use to print out a good care sheet and give it to them when they buy a boa from me. Also tell them its on my website in the care sheet page.
Basic question to ask buyers.
I want to make sure my babies are going to a good home so please don’t take offence to asking you some basic question. Also how old are you? If you live with your parents do they know you are going to buy a boa and are they ok with that? If you are under 18 and live at home with your parents I need to talk to them first on the phone before I will sell you a boa.
1: Do you know what size cage is good for an adult BCI or BCC boa?
2: What type of cage do you have for a boa now?
3: Do you know what the cage temps and humidity should be?
4: What will you be feeding your boa and what is better to feed live or frozen thawed prey and explain why?
5: How often will you feed your boa?
6: When a snakes eye gloss over / turn gray what does this mean?
7: How many boas should be housed in one cage? (except when breeding)
8: If you do plan on breeding in the future will you put a new male or female in the same cage right away with your older boa you already have?
I always as if they are experienced with ball pythons and their care, this series of questions is very smart!
I typed up a basic care sheet yesterday, I’m gonna start giving them to the customers regardless of if they are experienced or not.
I think I’ll email the particular customer in question the care sheet just for safe measure!
Thanks to all of your very helpful responses!
I’ve had a few inexperienced customers that resisted my best advice. I’d say I turned that into success for them by trying to remember when I was new and wanted to have things my way, or worried myself sick about everything not going 100% how I wanted.
Once we learn the best ways for care that work for us, I think we forget that there’s still other ways that will work well (but take extra work, seem silly to us, etc, etc.) I think trying to understand why they’re pushing back and come up with creative suggestions to put them towards the right path goes a long way.
Here’s an example:
One customer put a 3 month old hatchling into a 30 gal glass tank and wondered why the snake was always biting at them and not eating. They didn’t want to put the snake into a small tub like I kept insisting. Thinking about it I realized they spent a lot of time setting up all the heating, decorating, etc. I finally got them to put together a shoebox tub and just put it in into the big setup. Ten days later the snake was eating and they were happy.
Or if they keep trying to feed too often because they are worried and feel like they need to be doing something. I just give them something else specific to put their worried energy towards completing and usually they’ll make it a week.
It doesn’t stop it from being frustrating, but at least getting creative can help reach the goal of nudging new keepers onto the right track
As I buyer I agree, kind of generally new keepers will make mistakes, me included, I researched for about and I am dead serious six months and I made lots and lots of mistakes, and a care sheet for common mistakes especially mistakes common for new keepers, their are some things only experienced keeper can tell you and that just fax.
I think your questionnaire is an excellent idea. This might alleviate some of the “impulse” buyers. I think you have every right to vet questionable buyers. If I was a breeder, I would probably want to do something like that. If people get offended then oh well!