What to do when selling animals goes south

Hello everyone, I’m reaching out to see if anyone has advice on what to do when selling animals goes south. This is my first year of selling animals on morphmarket. I’ve been breeding leopard geckos for about 5 years now and it’s more of a hobby for myself as I just love reptiles. I have 4 females and 2 males. Nothing crazy. So far this year I have sold and shipped 16 babies! It’s been great and I couldn’t be happier with how things were going. I still have 4 babies that haven’t sold yet and about 6 babies that aren’t old enough. I recently shipped out two baby geckos to the same buyer and she said that they arrived injured and not moving their legs. My first thought was heat issues and maybe the box was kept in the sun or left in a hot fedex truck. So I went through the whole process of explaining what to do with cooling them, hydration, when to feed them next, etc. two days later and she said there was no improvement. So I recommended taking them to a reptile vet. She asked me to pay for the exam which was fine, not a huge deal. The exam was $130 and she paid $160 for the geckos. So I basically gave her back the money she paid for the geckos. The veterinarian then calls me 6 different times saying that the geckos have severe metabolic bone disease. I give them calcium powder and she basically told me that this was not sudden onset and that it’s been going on for months. The geckos were only 2 months old anyways. All of my geckos at home are fine and I have not heard anything negative about the other 14 geckos shipped this year. The buyer then asked that I split the medical bills with her which I did. I’ve spent over $300 on helping this person. I personally don’t know what to do since all of my other geckos are not having issues. I already removed all of my animals from morphmarket until things get better because I feel so upset. But I also don’t know what to do since I’m so new and I feel like I’m just waiting for this person to destroy me on the internet. I also feel like the buyer and the veterinarian don’t believe me when I tell them that all of the other animals are healthy. I sent the buyer a video of her geckos 5 days prior to shipping and they were normal. They were fine the morning I put them in the box. Has anyone ever had anything similar happen to them? Should I have given the buyer more money than she paid for the geckos? Should I withhold my current animals for 3-4 months to make sure they don’t develop signs on MBD?

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I would sooner pay to have them shipped back to you over offering up any more funds to the buyer. It appears this issue is an anomaly whether an unknown health problem arose from the shipping stress, or they were injured at some point. I’d not fret too much on the vet making assumptions either, unfortunately a fair number of vets are versed in reptile care as far as google takes them. Holding off further sales for a while wouldn’t be a bad idea either, even if it is only to give yourself peace of mind.

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My first thought was that this person is possibly making you pay the vet bill of another lizard because you said that the vet informed you that the MBD has been going on for months despite the geckos you sold her only being 2 months old? I personally would not pay this person anything because if they were truly healthy when you sold them to her and they are now unhealthy then that is entirely her fault. Most sellers on MM even state this on their policy by saying that once the animal is in the buyers possession it is no longer the breeders responsibility. I recommend having them shipped back and adding what I said earlier to your store policy. Hope you can get this resolved!

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I think this person scammed you. You don’t even know for sure what geckos she was taking to the vet were yours. My poodle has epilepsy and we have an awesome vet, but they don’t have time to call 6 times. That never happened, how do you know that person was a vet? If the vet has that much time on their hands who knows if they are even qualified. Never send people money, ever.

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In that situation I would have sent a shipping label and get them returned and offered a full refund once returned.

Than I would have take them to the vet of my choice.

The issue with trusting someone to take an animal to a vet is that they may or they may not and simply falsify reports and invoice (I have seen a few over the years :roll_eyes:), second if they do take the animal to a vet, the vet may not be as knowledgeable as needed (pretty common when it comes to reptiles)

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so was it really a vet and not a friend on the side acting like a vet? i would have never paid any vet bills and demanded the return of animals. seems sketchey to me.

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I would never have even thought of this. Thank you!

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I hope it was a vet :confused: didn’t even think of this

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Wait so you are unsure that it was even a vet? I would definitely have her send you a vet bill and if she cannot provide one then definitely file a claim of some sort

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And also do a search on the number that called you claiming to be the vet. If nothing pops up you were likely scammed. I find it unlikely that a vet had enough time to call you 6 times and that a couple 2 month old geckos had MBD after having been given supplement powder.

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Whatever happens get your lizards back and don’t sell to that person again. Something smells rank with this entire ordeal. And I’d definitely get ready to do something legally since you likely paid a vet bill for either an animal that wasnt yours OR got tricked and no vet visit happened at all.

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While it’s a valid concern that the “vet” may not actually be a vet, I can say for certain that I have called owners over 6 times before. I’ve also had days without any appointments. I feel those things are not correlated with the experience and skill level of a vet. They are required by law to maintain records, though specifics will vary by state. Ask them to email you the full medical records (not just an invoice) for both animals. If they don’t do it within 2 business days, either you’ve been scammed or the vet practice sucks.

I agree with everyone that the animals should be shipped back to you. Then you can have your own reptile vet examine them (alive or necropsied- if they can’t walk they are probably in rough shape. Most definitely get a necropsy, with pathology, if either one passes away. If your vet doesn’t offer pathology when performing a necropsy, get a new vet ASAP.). It also wouldn’t hurt to take a sec to review your shipping (an supplementation) practices and make sure that they are on par with everyone else’s.

If you want to pursue a diagnosis once you have the geckos back, you’re looking at some additional diagnositcs- possibly bloodwork or radiographs. With such major concerns about your breeding practices/nutrition, once you have the geckos back, it would probably be worth it to pursue further diagnostics as suggested by a qualified reptile dvm. You can also go over your husbandry practices with the vet- a genuine reptile vet should be very familiar with the appropriate care for a leopard gecko.

Though I’ve definitely seen baby animals that had severe malformations and whatnot from the mother not having enough calcium, it strikes me as unlikely (though not impossible) that that’s what’s going on here. It would be worth keeping track of which female laid which eggs, and with which pairing, as there might also be a genetic issue at play.

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It all seems weird that issues like not walking and such to spring over a 24 to 48 hour period though… Doesn’t it? If we go by the OP’s post everything was fine and normal until shipping to this unknown buyer. That’s why to me it all seems fishy and stinky.

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It does seem pretty sketchy for sure. It might help to know the shipping conditions and travel time?

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I was able to look at my bank account and see that the money was withdrawn from the veterinary practice that had called me. Thank goodness.

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So in your experience, have you heard of animals getting MBD within 2 months of life? I personally thought that it was something that occurred over several months. Is it common to be an issue started before they even hatch? I will say that some of my females are very very heavy layers. Especially my older girls. They’ve been laying eggs every 3 weeks going on five months now. So I wouldnt be surprised if they struggled to keep up with the calcium requirements of that. Because if that’s the case then it would explain why it was random babies and not others.

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Sounds like you got scammed. Did they offer proof that the vet was a real vet or even an exotic vet?

Second, did they send proof the geckos taken to the vet were the geckos you sold? The whole thing reeks of a scam. Even the cost of the visit seems high.

I don’t know the proper technical terms for some of this stuff, so take this with a grain of salt. But, yes, 100%, no question, I’m certain that animals can be born with terrible bone (and other) issues due to hypocalcemia in the dam. It makes sense if you think about it- if a mom doesn’t have enough calcium herself, it’s impossible to make a normal fetus & shell.

I’m not a reptile vet, but the scenario you describe sounds plausible. I would have thought the babies would have some indication of issues either while hatching (which is a tremendously taxing event for a baby) or while you grew them up, but it could also be that the shipping was sufficiently stressful that they ended up with multiple fractures.

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Especially if you used PayPal to refund her money with. They’ll put a hold on it in a heartbeat.

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im going to take the stance of if you did nothing wrong, and she wasnt trying to scam you, the best option to protect reputation and ensure you dont pay for care not rendered, or care rendered to the wrong animal, that you should from now on simply offer a refund upon the animal being shipped back. They lose no money, and you are only out shipping. Then you can bring the animal to care yourself, as well as you know not to deal with that buyer again if the animals are returned health, or not returned.