If you’ve got a pet snake, but you don’t want it anymore or are unable to keep at your property, selling it is the right thing to do. Most pet snakes wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild because it is the wrong kind of climate. So, rather than letting them go (or worse), selling your pet snake makes a great deal of sense from an ethical and financial perspective.
Put an ad on sites/apps like Craigslist, Angie’s List, and Gumtree to reach the most people. You can also post ads locally on notice boards, e.g., at local shops or grocery stores. Be clear on your price and include a long description of the snake and why you’re selling.
Selling anything online can be tricky. You get many people trying to take advantage—asking for discounts, asking for you to deliver it by tomorrow morning, or even just asking to have it for free. But with this guide, you can avoid these kinds of buyers and find a new home for your snake.
Reasons Why People Want to Sell a Pet Snake
There are excellent reasons why you might want to sell your snake, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about your decision. It’s often in both your interest and the snake’s interest for you to find them a new owner. Consider the following situations:
- You enjoy owning a snake, but you’ve only ever owned one, and you aren’t sure how to take care of it. You don’t know exactly how much to feed it and when, and you’re worried that you might not be caring for them properly.
- If you bought a snake a few years ago, but didn’t realize how big it would get. Now you’re stuck with a snake that’s far too big for you to care for.
- You love your snake, but they don’t like you. Whenever you try to handle or feed them, they strike out at you, no matter what you do. There’s something about either you or the home you provide them that they don’t like.
- You’ve always taken great care of your snake, but you don’t know if you have the money to care for them anymore. Sure, snakes are cheap pets, but if money’s tight then you have to make every saving you can—and you could make money from selling the snake and equipment too.
It’s natural to feel a little guilty, because they’re your pet. But it’s far better to accept that guilt and deal with it, rather than keep your snake in a situation that’s not good for them.
If you’re unsure how to feed or care for them, for example, it’s the more mature thing to do to accept that and sell them to someone that can. So let’s get down to business and find out how.
Where Can I Advertise a Pet Snake for Sale?
Before you ship your snake, you have to find someone to ship it to. So, where do you find a buyer? And how can you make sure that it’s sold quickly? Regarding reaching the biggest number of people, you have to think about advertising the snake online.
Using online classifieds like Gumtree, Craigslist or Angie’s List is a great start. Better yet, use all three. Make sure to set the ad to only appear in places that you can comfortably ship.
Generally speaking, the further away the buyer is, the more it’s going to cost. Ideally, you’d like to sell the snake to somebody local so that you can drive there and deliver it yourself rather than paying for shipping. Of course, that’s not always possible—but you can set your ads to appear locally rather than nationally, so try that first.
Also, you should try using physical flyers as ads, too. This will help you find people in your area, again so that you won’t have trouble shipping it. It also makes it easier to reach more people and increase the chance of you selling the snake. No doubt there are plenty of places you can leave ads: local notice boards at markets, for example.
Tips for Advertising a Pet Snake for Sale
But selling something, either offline or online, isn’t always easy. Here are some tips:
- Write out a long, detailed description of the snake. The more detailed, the better, because genuine buyers are happy to read through it all. This will increase the chance that you’ll find a buyer, but also decrease the number of time wasters you’ll get. You can then use this detailed description on each site, as well as use it in your real-life ad flyers.
- In your description, be clear about why you want to sell the snake. Imagine you’re buying a second-hand car: the ad describes everything as being in perfect condition, hardly ever used, and at a big discounted price. Well, why is it discounted? It must be something they’re not telling you. In the same way, if you’re not honest about why you’re selling your pet, buyers will question why.
- Be clear about your price in your ad. You’ll get a lot of people who take “$50 or nearest offer” to mean $15. Start by advertising at a higher price, and if there isn’t much interest, lower it later on. There’s a good chance that you’ll get more for your snake than expected.
What Price Should I Sell My Pet Snake For?
It depends on the snake you have – there’s plenty of information on the cost of snakes in this guide! If you have a basic ball python, a normal morph that you could buy at any pet store, then they won’t fetch more than $20 or so.
The more interesting and rare the morph, the more they’ll sell for. Try advertising them for the cost of what you bought them to see if there are any takers. So, while a basic corn snake you purchased for $50 won’t get sold for $50 or more, an albino corn snake might be $100, and a palmetto corn snake might fetch $500.
However, there’s also your snake’s enclosure and anything else you won’t need when you sell them. You’ve got two options when selling these products. You could advertise it along with the snake, and bump the price up to reflect that. Or you could sell everything individually.
If you sell each thing on its own (the tank, the heat pad, the expensive lighting rig, and so on), then you might be able to get more money for each item. The downside is that this would take more time and effort. So, it depends on how much time you have available to you.
Keep the Buyer Informed
Once you’ve found a potential buyer, it’s vital that you give them as much information as possible. This will maximize the chance that your snake will have a happy, comfortable life. Tell the buyer about the following:
- The temperature you keep the snake at
- The humidity level in their enclosure
- The ‘medical history of the snake,’ for example, repeated mouth rot issues
- What food they tend to eat
- Whether they’re happy with you handling them or not
Of course, once you sell the snake, it’s the other person’s ‘problem.’ But it’s common courtesy and helps them out if you give them a brief fact sheet about your snake, and point them in the direction of a care guide like one of ours. Of course, an experienced owner will probably know most things already, but it can’t hurt.
How to Ship a Snake to a Buyer
You might think that shipping a pet snake in the mail is cruel, or bad for the snake. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s perfectly possible to keep a pet snake comfortable and happy while they’re being shipped, so long as you put the effort in to keep them safe. That means not just cramming them in an envelope. Let’s look at how to ship a pet snake:
- Before you do anything, identify the company you’re going to use to ship the snake. According to the USPS website, they refuse to ship any snakes whatsoever, whether venomous or otherwise. FedEx won’t ship reptiles on behalf of individuals, either, only approved retailers. Websites like shipyourreptiles.com can send packages through FedEx on your behalf, and even send you packaging in the post for you to use. Alternatively, hire a courier. Whatever you do, make sure you adhere to both the law and any relevant regulations when you ship.
- House the snake in a plastic container, a small non-shatter tub being your best choice. Make sure that there are small holes in the container, and that they aren’t big enough for the snake to fit through.
- Select padding. Scrunched up newspaper is a good choice. Any paper that’s going to soften the impact of a hit, but allow air around the snake.
- Select a shipping container. Pick one that allows room for the plastic container, plus padding. Make sure that there are holes in the container—not big enough to cause structural damage, of course, but enough to provide some air for the snake.
- Pack the container loosely enough that there’s a small amount of air around the tub. But also make sure that there’s enough padding above, below and around the snake to prevent any harm to the snake.
Follow the shipping guidelines for labels. Many shipping companies require particular address labels, which they’ll have you print off at home to affix to the container. You should also make sure that the outside of the container clearly states “THIS WAY UP,” “FRAGILE” and/or “LIVE ANIMALS.”
Pick a shipping company that will allow you to track the package. This option is typically more expensive, but it’s a better option. First, it lets you know where your snake actually ends up if it doesn’t get to the buyer, which is surely something you’d like for your pet. But it also stops people from being able to rip you off. A very common online scam is for somebody to buy something, get you to ship it, and then claim it never arrived. Through some platforms like PayPal, they can quite easily get their money back. Tracking your package prevents that from happening.
Legal Problems with Selling Certain Species of Snake
Certain snakes aren’t legal in certain parts of the country. According to UCSB ScienceLine, all pet snakes are illegal in Hawaii—so you can’t ship your snake there no matter what, whatever kind it is. And ‘dangerous’ snakes are outlawed in many snakes. In some states, large constrictor snakes (such as Burmese pythons) are considered dangerous. In most states, venomous snakes like rattlesnakes, cobras and so on are considered ‘dangerous’ too.
Not only that, but municipal law in certain areas prevents people from owning snakes. Smuggling or shipping illegal goods across state lines is a criminal offense, and you would be held liable for it if it were proven (e.g., through your return address). Corn snakes, ball pythons and the like are legal almost anywhere, but there are also many protected snakes that can’t be caught or sold because they’re rare. So, double and triple check that you’re in the clear before shipping a reptile in the mail.
Finding the Right Buyer for a Snake
Aside from all that, you should make sure that the person you’re selling the snake to is ready for it. After all, if you’re going to sell your snake to a cruel or inexperienced owner, then you may as well put them out of their misery instead. So what makes a good snake owner?
- The person you’re selling to has to be prepared. Only sell to somebody that has an enclosure and all their equipment ready (or they’re gifting it to somebody who does). Alternatively, sell the snake along with all your equipment and kit to avoid this issue.
- Ideally, sell to somebody who already owns one or more snakes. They’re much more likely to know what they’re doing.
- This might be controversial, but we would recommend only selling to buyers that are polite and considerate. The kind of person that’s demanding, rude and uncompromising isn’t going to be a good owner for any pet.
Even if you don’t care that much about your pet snake, by taking just a little extra care, you can sell them to somebody that’s going to give them a long and happy life.
Alternatives to Selling a Snake
Never release a pet snake into the wild. Often the snake is in the wrong kind of environment and will quickly die if let free. But the alternative is worse. If the snake survives, it may mate with other released snakes and create a breeding population. That’s what happened in the Florida Everglades, where Burmese pythons have killed vast swathes of natural local wildlife and caused damage to the environment.
Aside from setting them free, the best alternative is to find a breeder or local facility that will ‘adopt’ them free of charge. Breeders especially are often happy to take on snakes, especially if they’re an interesting kind. It might be worth asking around, perhaps at a pet store, to see if there’s anyone you could give your snake to.
Giving your snake away for free to somebody that you know generally isn’t a good idea. That’s because almost anyone will say ‘yes’ to something that’s free. But they might not be all that interested in owning a snake. If you were to give your snake to them, there’s no guarantee that they would take proper care of it. And really, that’s all that you should want—for your snake to be happy, whether you sell them, keep them, or give them away.