If you’ve never owned a pet snake before, you may not realize the costs to consider along the way. The acquisition price is important, but not the most important one.
That’s because snakes usually live in excess of 10 years, depending on the species. Some live more than 20 or 30 years in optimal conditions.
So, the acquisition cost may pale in comparison to the long-term spending on overall care, housing, and feeding. So, let’s get into the main details.
Factors that Affect the Cost of Pet Snakes
First, you need to worry about purchasing your pet. This can place you into different pricing categories, depending on several factors.
Size of the Snake
The larger the snake is, the higher the price. It’s worth noting a critical difference here. Snakes get larger with age, but some species are naturally larger than others. The latter is more expensive because you’re getting a large and young snake.
This means that size-based pricing is relative to the species and the snake’s age. So, you shouldn’t use size as the sole determinant.
Age of the Snake
Snakes change their physiology as they grow. They become more lethargic due to their metabolic rates dropping over time and even change in color and overall appearance. So, it’s natural for younger snakes to be more expensive than older ones.
How exactly you determine a snake’s age is a whole different discussion. As a general idea, the indicators pointing at the snake’s age depending on the species and size expectations.
For instance, ball pythons are up to 16 inches in length when they hatch. By the first year, they will double that and weigh up to 700-800 grams.
These standard metrics will help you determine the snake’s age fairly accurately. Keep in mind that these values change depending on the species itself.
Rarity or Popularity of the Species
Rarer species and morphs cost more than the others. Popularity is also a critical factor, especially given that it outweighs the specie’s rarity. It’s of no use that a specific snake species is rare if it’s not popular.
But, overall, both of these factors matter when assessing a snake’s value.
Quality of Care Provided by Breeder or Seller
I cannot stress this point’s importance strongly enough. You should always consider the snake’s overall appearance and health before buying it.
A good way of doing that is by contrasting your snake’s appearance to that of the standard specimen of a similar age and size. The quality of care that the snake has received to that point is critical in determining the specimen’s overall health, growth, and even lifespan.
The problem is that so many snake breeders keep their reptiles in subpar conditions with improper food, housing care, and husbandry. This is the natural result of wanting to maximize profits and sacrificing quality during the process.
As a result, you might be buying a sick reptile or even one with hidden genetic faults that can shorten its lifespan.
Only buy your snake from reputed breeders that can vouch for the quality of their reptiles. The extra bucks are clearly worth it.
Average Price of Common Pet Snake Species
If you’ve decided to purchase your first snake pet, you need to know the overall prices to expect.
Here’s a table containing the most popular species available and their general price range. Keep in mind that this list may not reflect what you may actually find on the market.
As we’ve already mentioned, a snake’s price varies based on numerous factors. I’m just presenting the expected ballpark which you may or may not find yourself in.
|Snake Species||Price Range|
|Kenyan Sand Boa||$130-$300|
As you can see, the price varies, but not wildly. You don’t get snakes costing thousands of dollars, although those are available as well, depending on the species and morph.
Overall, though, most snake species are quite affordable, especially when considering that they can live for decades, depending on the species.
However, as I’ve mentioned at the beginning of the article, the snakes’ purchasing prices aren’t as important as the ongoing expenses over the years.
So, let’s get into those as well!
Ongoing Cost of Keeping a Pet Snake
When it comes to housing a pet snake, you have 3 major areas to consider in terms of costs:
Housing and Enclosure
The housing and habitat layout depend on the snake’s size, behavior, and physiology.
Some snake species are arboreal and need a vertical layout with climbing areas, while others are terrestrial, spending their time on or in the substrate. The enclosure’s size is also important.
While snakes aren’t particularly effective, they still need to be able to move around their enclosure a bit and not feel claustrophobic or trapped. The latter can cause them to feel stressed and attempt to escape the enclosure, which can lead to injuries along the way.
Plus, you don’t want a stressed reptile in the first place, as this impacts its wellbeing over time. In addition to that, snakes need space to fulfill their physiological needs.
Contrary to popular belief, snakes are actually fairly clean animals; they won’t poop where they eat or rest. So, they need a slightly larger enclosure so they can have their own bathroom area to go to.
So, purchasing the enclosure and decorating it properly are things to consider when assessing the cost of the investment. Especially since these expenditures will come at the same time as getting the snake.
Then you also need to consider the various useful elements like a heating source, designed to keep your snake warm.
Depending on the heating element you go for, you can pay between $20 and $100 if you plan to use heating pads, radiant heat plates, and a UVB light source.
Feeding and Nutrition
Fortunately, snakes have slow metabolisms for the most part. Most species only eat once per week, while some may eat once every several weeks.
Feeder rats are the most common food item, but the types of foods vary based on your snake species and its preferences. You can also use pink mice, birds, hamsters, various amphibians, or even other reptiles.
These are readily available in pet shops that specialize in snake feeding, or you can get them from specialized breeders if you’re after stricter quality control. The good news is that feeding-related expenses are quite modest.
An adult snake may only eat once every 10-14 days, depending on the species, the snake’s size, and the prey size. In this sense, you may require about 2 well-sized rats per month to feed your pet snake.
At $5 per piece, this takes you at a $10 food expense weekly, which amounts to $120 per year.
This price assessment can vary, depending on your snake, how much it eats, and its metabolic rate. But, overall, the feeding expenses are more than modest.
Vet Care and Health Expenses
These are necessary for keeping your pet snake in good health over the years. You can minimize said expenses by monitoring your snake’s nutritional intake, housing conditions, and overall health status.
But, sometimes, the situation may require the intervention of a professional.
Snakes can experience a variety of problems due to poor husbandry, improper environmental conditions, poor diets, or stress.
The idea is to always assess your snake’s condition and learn its behavior so you can determine its health status. The earlier the treatment, the less money you’ll have to spend in the process.
Adopting a Pet Snake from a Rescue Shelter
Pet shelters provide you with the opportunity to adopt snakes in need of care, love, and support.
Many of the snakes ending up in rescue shelters are either wounded, have been mistreated, or have reached human-populated areas by mistake and got saved in time.
The main benefit of getting your pet snake from a rescue shelter is that they can vouch for the snake’s health and overall condition.
This way, you don’t risk getting a sick snake, one with genetic faults, or one with various infections that could affect its lifespan and quality of life.
More importantly, you get to choose your favorite pet based on your preferences. Whether you want a young and strong specimen or an older one in need of palliative care, snake shelters are for you.
Pet snakes aren’t too difficult to keep, provided you understand their physiology and needs.
They don’t need too much space, only require several meals per month, and are generally docile and peaceful. They’re also fairly cheap overall, both in terms of acquisition price and long-term maintenance.
It’s all good news, as you can see.