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How Much Is a Pet Snake?

You’re considering buying a pet snake, but do you know what the cost of owning one is? Find out all you need to know about the costs here!

The price of pet snakes includes upfront and long-term costs. Upfront costs include the snake and the vivarium. Long-term costs include food, maintenance, and vet visits. The cost to get started is $500, and the long-term costs depends on what pet snake you’re interested in getting.

In this piece, I will cover all the costs associated with owning a snake, starting with the cost of the snake. Next, I’ll  describe the cost of setting up a vivarium. Then, I will explain heating expectations and food expenses. Finally, I will touch on vet emergency funds.

Upfront Costs

The price of the snake depends on the type of snake and the morph. Some owners prefer their snakes to have a certain morph to achieve unique color patterns. This will increase the cost of the snake.

Corn snakes are among the most commonly sold snakes and come in a variety of colors. The low end of this breed will cost you about 40$ to 150$, while the more expensive morphs will be around $1,000.

Garter snakes are the cheapest snakes in the pet trade and will cost 20-300$.

On the more expensive end, Hognose snakes cost $100-$700 depending on the morph. So, if you are okay with not seeking out an expensive morph, you could purchase a snake for well under 100$.

Next, it’s time to price out possible vivarium setups. This will depend on the type of snake you purchased, their growth rate, and heating requirements. You have the option of using an aquarium tank or a vivarium specifically built for reptiles. The reptile-specific vivariums are favorable because they open from the front, making it easier to clean the tank and handle your snake!

When you first purchase your pet, you can have them in a smaller, cheaper enclosure to start. A long 40-gallon tank is a good starter home for your juvenile snake. While a reptile-specific tank of this size will cost about 150$, you may be able to find a used aquarium tank for significantly cheaper.

At some point, the snake will outgrow its enclosure, and you will need to upgrade to at least a 75-gallon tank. A 75-gallon reptile tank will be significantly more expensive and cost 300$ to 500$. Finding a used aquarium tank of this size is rare, but will save you a few hundred dollars.

Some owners prefer to house their juvenile snake in a 75-gallon tank immediately to save on the costs of purchasing a new tank in the future. This is a general guideline, as tank size depends heavily on species size, but enclosures tend to be the most expensive cost of owning a reptile.

Long-Term Costs

Now that you’ve purchased your enclosure, it’s time to set it up! You will need to provide substrate, hides, decorations, and a way to heat the enclosure properly.

Let’s start with the substrate, which fills the bottom of the tank so your snake can burrow and move around comfortably. The substrate will need to be changed every few months, so it is important to understand that the substrate cost will be a recurring expense. The most frugal option is shredded paper towels.

Alternatively, mixed substrates will cost about 30$ a bag. You may need multiple bags to fill the bottom of the tank. When you change the substrate over, you do not need to change all of it at once. This will assist in  reducing the maintenance cost.

Your new snake will need multiple hides available for them to feel safe. Hides are fairly cheap and will cost anywhere from 10$ to 40$ with lots of options for DIY projects. Depending on the breed of snake, you may want to include a decorative branch for them to climb as a form of enrichment. These should cost around $30. The hides and decorations in the tank will only need to be bought once.

With your enclosure all set up, it’s time to figure out how to heat it to keep your snake comfortable day and night. This will also depend on the breed, but their enclosure will need to be warmer than room temperature. A heat lamp that sits on the screen on top of the tank is the most reliable source of heat. Basking bulbs are great at providing heat that mimics natural sunlight, which is important as reptiles are unable to produce their own body heat.

Basking bulbs are also ideal because there are multiple wattages that you can use to cater your enclosure temperature to your snake’s needs. Purchasing a thermostat will provide safe, consistent temperatures in your enclosure. The thermostat can be set to a certain temperature and will regulate the basking bulb to ensure the temperature is within range. This prevents your snake from overheating and reduces the possibility of a fire.

Next, we will mention food requirements. Your snake will most likely be fed rodents. If you choose to buy rodents frozen in bulk, you will be able to save some money. Bulk frozen mice vary in cost, but you can spend about 60$ on 20 pinkie mice. This will last you several months if your snake eats 2 pinkies every 14 days. The price of food will fluctuate depending on breed, size, and age.

Finally, it is very important to keep in mind potential vet visits. We advise having an emergency vet visit fund of $200. Most checkups are about $60 for an initial visit, with more complicated situations costing a few hundred dollars. Vet visits are essential to the vitality and longevity of your pet snake. Snakes do not need yearly vet visits, but it’s important to be financially prepared if your snake becomes ill.

Final Thoughts

Owning a pet snake will cost you around $500 upfront, with maintenance costing about 30-60$ a month depending on what needs to be replaced. The upfront cost refers to the snake, which varies depending on the breed and morph, and setting up the vivarium. The vivarium will cost anywhere from $150-400, depending on the size and tank type. The substrate will be about $30-90 depending on the size of your tank and what substrate you choose. Hides are essential and will cost about 30$ for two.

After you have the tank set up, it is important to consider how you will be heating it. Basking bulbs are around $30 and offer you the flexibility in temperature that your snake requires. If you choose to buy a thermostat, it will cost an additional $20. For food, you can buy captive-bred, frozen rodents in bulk for $60, which will last a few months.

Vet visits are another important budget to consider. Saving about $200 for unexpected emergencies should be enough to cover most procedures. Overall, your snake will cost about $500 to set up, $200 for vet visits, and about $45 a month for food and tank maintenance. Now, you’re ready to pick out your new slithery pal!