How to Budget for a Pet Snake
by Janine DeVault - 7/10/19
When planning to purchase a snake, it’s easy to become fixated on the price of buying one. In reality, the true cost of owning a snake consists of much more than your initial investment. Once you have a snake, you have to feed it, house it, pay its veterinary bills and arrange to cover any other associated expenses. So, how much does a snake cost, really?
This article will reveal some of the most common expenses associated with snake ownership to help you determine whether you’re financially equipped to care for one of these reptiles. As you learn about the expenses associated with caring for a snake, you can begin estimating the monthly cost of maintaining this type of pet.
How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Snake?
The cost to purchase a snake varies depending on the breed. Some breeds of snake are rare and in high demand, which can drive up the purchase price, while others are common, keeping the cost low.
Corn snakes and ball pythons, two of the most inexpensive snakes, can be purchased for as low as $20, simply because they’re common. However, there are certain color variations within these breeds that are rare, meaning those snakes can command higher prices — into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The popular boa constrictor often sells for slightly more, though still under $100 — but, again, rare colors or patterns can drive prices well into the thousands.
Before purchasing a snake, spend some time researching the standard price bracket for the species you are interested in. But remember, just because the initial investment is low, doesn’t necessarily mean that maintaining the creature will be inexpensive. There are still other factors to consider.
Snake Housing Expenses
One of the biggest factors in how much a snake costs is surely the cost of housing him. Not only will you need to purchase an enclosure for your snake, but you’ll also need to place suitable bedding inside and ensure it provides the optimal climate for his species.
How Much Does a Snake Terrarium Cost?
When purchasing a snake, be sure to research how big he will grow —you will need to purchase an enclosure that is large enough. Naturally, the larger the enclosure, the more it will cost. You may wish to first purchase a small terrarium and upgrade to a larger one as your snake grows, but this ultimately creates an added expense, as you will have to purchase multiple terrariums over your snake’s life, rather than just one.
Glass terrariums cost more than plastic ones, but they may also provide a better habitat for your snake. It may be tempting to cut costs here, but don’t forget to weigh the pros and cons of each type of terrarium, as there may be negative repercussions on your snake’s comfort.
Once you choose a terrarium for your snake, you need to orchestrate the ideal climate for your snake. Typically, snakes need a lot of heat and some may also require humidity. You can heat your snake’s enclosure using lamps, heaters, mats or even rocks. These items may cost anywhere from $20 to $50 at the pet store. Don’t forget to budget for the monthly electricity expense that these items represent.
Snake Bedding Costs
Comfortable bedding, also known as substrate, will help create a comfortable, safe environment for your snake. There are a myriad of options when it comes to choosing substrate for your snake. Before committing to a certain substrate for your snake, be sure to research the ideal option for your snake’s breed. You can opt for newspaper, sand, coconut fiber or even mulch, among other options. Prices vary for each type of bedding, falling anywhere between $8 and $20 per bag. Of course, the amount you will need depends on the size of your snake’s terrarium.
You will have to replace your snake’s substrate periodically, as it will become dirty over time. As you begin budgeting how much a snake costs, plan to invest in new bedding each month, just to be on the safe side.
Snake Feeding Costs
Fortunately for your budget, feeding a snake is usually inexpensive, though, it will depend largely on the size of your snake. They usually eat rodents such as mice or rats, but a very large snake may eat a rabbit or guinea pig. You can purchase these animals at your local pet store either live or frozen. Frozen mice tend to cost approximately $2 each.
Snakes don’t need to be fed very frequently but they will eat more often when they are younger. When creating your budget, plan to feed your snake twice per week at most, though he will likely only eat once per week.
It’s difficult to say how much a snake costs without knowing exactly which breed of snake you will purchase. As with any pet, owning a snake has a large initial investment, as you must purchase a large number of accessories. In addition to the expenses covered above, you should set aside a small amount of money each month to cover any veterinary expenses that arise. If you find yourself in a bind when it comes to covering your snake’s medical expenses, consider using Scratchpay to break the cost into manageable monthly payments.
Janine DeVault is a pet care writer, animal rescue advocate and former celebrity dog walker. She lives in Mexico with her three rescue pets: Maia, Fozzy and Kesi.