Buying exotic pets from a pet shop gives you a degree of insurance in that if you have any problems at all you know exactly where to return to so you can either demand your money back or ask for advice.
It’s also easy to ask around and get an idea of the reputation of a shop before you actually go in and buy anything and furthermore a quick walk around the shop will quickly tell you if you have walked into a professional establishment or whether it’s run by cowboys who have no idea what they’re doing.
In short buying reptiles and amphibians from a pet shop is the safe option.
But buying reptiles and amphibians from exotic pet shows – now that’s a whole different kettle of fish. After all there’s no shop to look around. There’s no local people to check on the reputation of a seller. And at the end of the show the seller will go home leaving you holding whatever it is that you bought.
In other words buying exotic pets from a pet show offers far more risk.
But if it’s so much more risky why would anyone actually go to these reptile shows – and even more importantly why would anyone actually buy a live animal from one?
Reptile shows are exciting. You never quite know who you’ll bump into or what animals will be for sale. A building full of passionate reptile keepers and breeders can turn up all sorts of exciting specimens that youd struggle to find in a standard reptile shop.
There are also masses of animals for sale so if you’re looking to start breeding a species you can often find different sexes, sizes and blood lines of the same species and so come home with a “ready made” breeding project. Lastly, and just as importantly, the prices at reptile shows are often significantly less than at you would pay in a pet shop so you can often save yourself a considerable sum of money.
Personally speaking I think reptile shows are the best thing since sliced bread.
So if you’re considering going to a reptile show with money in your pocket what can you do to put yourself in the best position possible to make an intelligent buying decision?
Never make a rushed decision when buying an exotic pet. That goes for buying from a reptile shop or from a show. Take your time to look around, carefully weigh up your options and never make an impulse buy. Better to miss out on something than hand over your money too soon only to discover later that you’re not capable of giving the animal the level of care it needs and deserves.
It also pays to go to a reptile show with a vivarium set up before you go – or at least to have all the equipment at home and ready to go. Sure, there are always surprises but if you go with a clear plan that you’d like to buy a corn snake and you have a vivarium all set up ready then not only will it reduce the chances of you coming back with something you didn’t intend but even more importantly you know that as soon as you get home you have all the housing set up and ready to go.
This not only makes your life easier but is also the best plan of action for any reptile you buy at the show. The sooner you can get them into a properly set up vivarium the happier and healthier they will be.
It’s also a good idea to take a few books with you in the car so that if necessary you can do a quick bit of swotting up on a species that interests you in order to gain a better understanding of it’s needs before making a buying decision.
Get To Know The Seller
Once you’ve found an animal you’re interested in don’t rush into a purchase. Instead take your time to get to know the seller a little bit. Ask about how long they have been breeding the species, how many young they produce and see if you can get their contact details incase of any questions in the future. If they’re open, chatty and honest then this is a very good sign in comparison to the person who avoids your gaze and tries not to answer your questions.
Ask The Right Questions
Take the time to ask the seller how they’re successfully keeping the species you’re considering. Keep poking questions at them until you’re confident you have a handle on the care of the pet you’re looking at. Ask about housing, feeding, handling and so on. Ask about lifespan, temperament and any common problems seen. Treat the seller as your “go to guide” for advice on the species and only seriously consider a purchase once you’ve gained the knowledge you need.
Get Hands On
Liking what you’re hearing so far? If so it may be time to actually consider a purchase. If more than one specimen is for sale then carefully weigh up the options and ask if you can have one or two out. Getting them out not only helps you ascertain their temperament but also allows you to do a basic health check to ensure you are getting a healthy specimen.
Ask About Reservation
Lastly once you’re confident you have a vivarium set up at home, that you have grilled the seller and got all the information you need and you’ve selected a healthy specimen you should either take the animal straight home to put in it’s new cage or ask the seller to hold onto it while you finish looking round the show rather than carting that new treefrogs or boa around the hustle and bustle of a busy reptile show.
In closing I should say that most reptile shows are very carefully regulated. Most of the sellers know each other (or at least know of each other) so the risk is far less than you might imagine. I have bought a number of exotic pets from shows over the years and have never had any problems with my purchases at all. If you’re considering visiting your first show then a little preparation and common sense will keep you safe and ensure you have the best day possible.
If you have been to a reptile show recently, what were your experiences? Are you a fan or would you never go back? Why not leave me a comment below with your own experiences of buying animals from reptile shows…