How to Get a Pet Ball Python
Ball pythons are readily available from a number of different sources. You can purchase one at your local pet shop, local reptile expo, off the Internet, through your local newspaper, or even perhaps through your local herp club. Each potential source of available ball pythons will have its own unique set of pros and cons. You will need to decide which will work best for you.
Herpetological societies are not found in every state. Where they are located, however, they provide a great opportunity for people to gather together and share their common interests in reptiles and amphibians. Many of these societies have adoption programs for re-homing reptiles and amphibians whose owners are no longer able to care for them. They also receive animals from local shelters and from local law enforcement agencies. Most clubs will require you to become a member before they will allow you to adopt an animal. There will also most likely be an adoption contract that you will be required to sign before you will be allowed to take the snake home. Each club has its own adoption requirements.
Buying from a private party out of the local paper can be a very interesting experience. Most of these snakes will be adult ball pythons. Some will be in excellent health; others will need lots of tender, loving care. (Be sure that, if the python is not in the best of health, you will be able to provide whatever specialized—and probably expensive—care it needs.) Some of these snakes will have belonged to children who have grown up, left home, gone off to college, or who just plain lost interest in their once-beloved pet. Almost all of our original ball python females came from people selling snakes that they no longer wanted to care for.
Local pet shops have long been the first place where many future hobbyists encounter their first reptiles. Some stores are very neat and clean, employing knowledgeable staff and offering healthy animals. Others are not as well kept or staffed. At a pet shop, you will have the opportunity to observe an individual snake for a potentially longer period of time then you would at an expo. When you have decided upon which ball python you would like to purchase, please ask to see its feeding record, if one is available, or watch it eat before you bring it home. This is important, since one of the biggest complaints that consistently occur with ball pythons is their failure to feed. Well-cared-for hatchling ball pythons should eat as long as they are properly set up and cared for.
Ah, a herp expo! For the reptile and amphibian enthusiast, this is the place to be! An expo (also called a herp show), usually held in a public area such as a convention hall, provides a platform for individuals who deal with reptiles, amphibians, and related products to offer them for sale to the public. Not all expos are the same. Some are fairly small and regional, while others are very large and attract breeders and dealers from around the United States.
Buying at an expo gives you an opportunity to inspect a large number of ball pythons. Not all sellers of ball pythons at the expos are breeders. Many are brokers, and others are importers. It is important to take your time and visit a number of vendor's tables and buy a quality, well-started ball python from a reliable seller. If you ask to handle a ball python on a vendor's table, do not be surprised if she asks you to sanitize your hands before allowing you to handle her snakes. (Most vendors carry their own hand sanitizers with them. This is a common practice among vendors.)
Choose the seller that you are most comfortable with. Most important, make sure you obtain the seller's contact information in case there is a problem with the snake or if you have more questions at a later date about the snake you purchased.
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