Choosing a Baby Snake
Since most snakes lay their eggs in the spring, the summer and fall are the best times to find a baby snake. Breeders have plenty in the fall but the supply dwindles in the winter. Now is the season to buy.
Perhaps the best place to look for a young snake or other reptile is a reptile show where breeders gather to display and sell their animals. You can compare animals and choose from a wider selection of species, varieties and colors than you'll find in most pet stores. There are many long established shows, some monthly such as in White Plains, NY, or Havre de Grace, MD; and some that come along less often, like the highly regarded annual Mid-Atlantic Reptile Show at Timonium, MD, where 150 breeders and reptile accessory dealers from around the country gather for two days in the fall.
The advantage to buying your animal from a breeder is that you can find out the animal's particular habits: what and how often it's been eating and its living conditions. Snakes have their own habits and breeders their own distinctive styles of caring for their animals. This way you can keep the shock of moving to a minimum.
You will also save money because pet shops mark up the price substantially after acquiring their animals from breeders. Accessories such as tanks and heaters are usually cheaper as well.
Find Breeders on the Web
The Internet is a good source for finding breeders, as well as information on almost any kind of snake available, but it may also be overwhelming. So once you've narrowed your choice of animal, search the Internet for breeders who specialize in it. Before you buy, it's still best to talk to a breeder about what happens if you have problems with your animal. The same goes for breeders at shows. Most of these breeders do not have retail outlets and so the shows are the only places you can see their stock.
Billie Zulich, who, with her husband Al, runs Harford Reptile Breeding Center in Bel Air, MD, recommends taking children to the reptile shows before buying a pet as a way to introduce them to the variety of animals available. At their Web site, www.pythons.com, they have an extensive list of other reptile breeders and connections to their sites. The Zulichs and most breeders list the reptile shows they'll be attending in the coming months. You can also find out about reptile shows in your area by contacting a local herpetological society. Many of them run their own regional shows.
Many breeders specialize in only a few varieties of snakes. Harford, for instance, specializes in some of the smaller snakes including the smaller pythons. The prices of these animals can run from $30 for a tricolor Pueblan milk snake to $2,000 for a pair of womas. At the shows, children and parents can ask questions of the breeders and get an idea of how to care for and handle the animals.
Zulich says that apart from eyeing the general condition of a young snake - making certain its free of exterior marks, its colors are good, its eyes and nostrils are clear - it's difficult to be able to tell if the snake has anything wrong with it inside. Read up on the species before you go, know what it should look like, and compare it to others of the same species at the show. Then talk to the breeder about it. Most are proud of their animals and will be glad to tell you why. One of the other advantages of buying a snake at a show, says Zulich, is that with the demand for space at most shows at a premium, breeders or dealers who sell sickly animals are quickly eliminated.