How Much Do Pet Snakes Cost to Buy, Own, and Care For?

Written by Kirstin Opal
Updated: October 12, 2022
Image Credit Ixepop/Shutterstock.com
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Think You Know Snakes?

Despite popular belief, slithering snakes make incredible pets. They’re relatively low maintenance and have quirky personalities just like our furry four-legged friends. Whether you’re a busy individual or just don’t want to pick up after a messy pet, consider buying a snake. 

Some snakes can be handled, while others aren’t the biggest fans of being touched by humans. Everything from getting a tank, accessories, and the actual snake is going to cost you money, but how much exactly? 

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about what it will cost you to own a pet snake. We hope this shed’s a bit of light on what you can expect to see if having a slithering pal is within your budget long term. 

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The Cost of Buying a Snake

The average price for a pet snake is about $75. While this is much more than a bird or a rodent, it’s more affordable than a dog or a cat. Here’s a handy chart of the average cost for snakes based on their species. 

Snake SpeciesAverage Price
Garter Snakes$20-$300
Corn Snakes$40-$1,000
Hognose Snakes$100-$700
Sunbeam Snakes$50-$125
California Kingsnakes$60-$300
Egg Eating Snakes$60-$100
Milk Snakes$55-$300
Ribbon Snakes$15-$25
White Lipped Python$125-$150

Costs Associated With Pet Snakes

Now that you know a general idea of how much the snake itself will cost you, there are other things to consider. Like with other hobbies, what you pay for is what you get. Some items you may want to spend a bit more on, like an enclosure, and others you can find a way to do cheaply, such as a substrate. Let’s take a closer look at what you should budget for the most common costs that come with owning a snake. 

Feeding

Snakes love eating small rodents. It’s the main staple in their diet. If you feed your snake mice or rats, you’re in luck! There are several places to pick and choose when it comes to buying food for slithery pets.  

Almost all reptile and exotic pet stores sell live and frozen feeder rats, and many small local hobby breeders may sell to you. It’s a good idea to sign up for emails from websites that specialize in feeder animals for reptiles since they frequently have sales.

Keep an eye out for local websites like Facebook Marketplace to save money on snake food. People sometimes get rid of their snakes, or their snakes start eating new sizes of prey, or their snakes just get uninterested in frozen food after a huge buy. People are frequently willing to sell items at a bargain or even give them away for free in these situations!

Feeding Schedule

As opposed to traveling to your local pet store to buy live mice every time your snake wants to feed, buying frozen rats in bulk can save you money and time. 

Snakes of various kinds and ages require varied-sized prey and have variable metabolic rates. Most young snakes, for example, eat every 5-7 days, although certain adult snake species only require feeding every 10-14 days.

You’ll start by feeding one pinkie every week for common pet snakes like the corn snake. Pinkies, which are newborn rodents, are just $1.00 per month if you can get them for $0.25. When the corn snake reaches adulthood, it will consume one gigantic mouse every two weeks. 

If you spend $5.00 each month for a giant mouse, it comes to $60.00 per year. Feeding larger snakes and snakes with faster metabolisms will be more expensive. Estimating the feeding cost becomes considerably more challenging if your snake needs specialized food such as frogs, reptiles, eggs, or fish.

Heating Source

The great majority of snakes’ habitats will require additional heating sources. The charges you’ll pay may vary depending on the gadget you purchase. Heating pads, cables, and lamps are often inexpensive, costing no more than $20 to $40. Radiant heat plates, on the other hand, are usually around $50 to $100 and are the favored option of many professional breeders.

Thermometer

You’ll need a pair of thermometers to make sure the heating equipment is keeping the right temperature. To measure surface temperatures, you’ll need an infrared non-contact thermometer, as well as an electronic indoor-outdoor temperature gauge to measure ambient air temperatures. Based on whether you choose cheap or premium versions, you’ll likely pay $50 to $100 for the pair.

Substrate

Something should be placed on the bottom of the habitat to give comfort to your snake and to collect any expelled or spilled fluids. For most non-burrowing species, you can save money by using newspapers. You may also use mulch, bark, or a variety of other materials, but they’ll be more expensive. You should be able to get a bag of substrate for less than $20 in most cases, but you will need to refill it on a regular basis.

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Enclosure Lighting 

Because the great majority of snakes can survive on just diffused room light, lights are rarely regarded as essential for snake care. Fluorescent light fixtures, on the other hand, may assist show off your snake’s colors, therefore some keepers choose to use them nevertheless. A fluorescent fixture and bulb may be purchased for under $20, while bigger fixtures appropriate for huge enclosures would cost more.

Hideaways

Most snakes need one hiding place at a minimum, although the majority will be content with a basic cardboard box. If you choose to buy one from a pet store or online, they are often available for less than $10 to $20 and are priced based on size. 

Plants

Plants aren’t required for most snakes, but they may be a great addition to your pet’s environment and can help keep your snake calm. The majority of plants helpful in snake habitats are affordable, costing between $5 and $20 per plant, depending on size and variety. Just keep in mind that you’ll probably want to add many plants, so plan appropriately.

Misting Bottle

You’ll need a misting bottle or an automatic misting system if you choose a snake that comes from a high-humidity area. Both approaches will work, but there is a big cost difference between them: A misting bottle will set you back less than $5, but a misting system would set you back at least $50, if not more.

Water Dish 

A water dish is required for most snakes, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money on one. A basic plastic storage container would serve if you want to keep your prices down. High-quality stainless-steel or porcelain water dishes, on the other hand, are frequently the best alternatives, and they range in price from $5 to $20, depending on the size.

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Enclosure & Setup Maintenance

The most expensive thing you’ll need to supply for your snake is probably its enclosure. It might even cost more than the snake itself in some circumstances. The cost of your snake’s habitat will vary depending on a number of criteria, including the following:

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Type of Enclosure

Aquariums, plastic storage containers, industrial reptile cages, and custom-built habitats are just some of the enclosure options available to you for your snake. Storage boxes and aquaria are often the least expensive solutions, while commercial reptile cages and sophisticated, custom-built habitats are the most costly.

Features

Several modern reptile cages are available in a variety of models, each with its own set of characteristics. Some are basic enclosures with little features, while others are intricate habitats with features such as cable gateways, built-in lighting or heating equipment, and detachable partitions. Enclosures with a lot of added features are nearly always more expensive than enclosures with fewer features.

Size of Enclosure

Bigger enclosures, as you might guess, are more pricey than smaller ones. As a result, and also because you wouldn’t want to be unkind to your pet by forcing him to live in an overcrowded environment, it’s a good idea to factor in the size of the cage your snake will need when planning a budget.

Vet Care

The most common part of snake keeping that novice keepers neglect to pay for is veterinary treatment. And, sadly, veterinarian care may be rather expensive. Furthermore, veterinarian care might be difficult to budget for because you never know when your snake will need to see a professional 

A veterinarian appointment usually costs approximately $100, but if your snake requires extensive testing or procedures, you might wind up paying much more. In fact, if your snake requires surgery or is required to stay at the vet’s office for a lengthy period of time, you might be hit with a hefty bill. 

Given the unpredictability of veterinary treatment, keepers should set aside a few hundred dollars for such emergencies. You may also seek a snake-specific pet insurance plan to assist cover some of the fees you could pay. 

Vet Cost Breakdown

In comparison to common household pets, such as cats and dogs, snakes require much less veterinary care. Here are the standard prices for procedures. 

Reason for VisitCost
Office Visit$50-$100
Fecal Parasite Test$10-$30
Parasite Treatment$15-$40
Antibiotics for Respiratory Infection$50
X-Rays$50-$150
Surgery (Tumor, Egg Dystocia, Etc.)$500-$1,000

It’s important to keep in mind that these costs can vary based on things like the species of snake and your location. You can always call the vet ahead of time and ask what you can expect to pay. 

Money-Saving Tips for Snake Keepers

Snakes are frequently more costly than their owners anticipate, but there are a variety of methods to cut expenditures and save some money. The following are some of the best things you can do to save a buck or two:

  • Rather than buying from a store, get your snake from a breeder. By purchasing a snake directly from a breeder, you can save money over purchasing one from a pet store or reseller. 
  • Buy in bulk for your pet’s food. You should always look to buy your snake’s food in bulk if your snake can eat pre-killed, frozen-thawed prey. You’ll have to give your pet some freezer space as a result, but you’ll certainly be able to decrease your spending in half or more. 
  • Keep your eyes out for any secondhand heating or lighting gear. Heating and lighting gadgets, as long as they’re in excellent working order, may often be purchased used and still be helpful. You’ll probably be able to spend half as much on used equipment as you would on new equipment if you buy it secondhand. 
  • Use your imagination when it comes to hiding boxes. Commercial hide boxes aren’t always cheap, but reusing items like Rubbermaid container saucers or storage boxes may frequently save you money. Simply turn these objects inside out and cut a door in the side. You can use cardboard boxes, but you’ll have to toss them out after they’re dirty.
  • Substrates are available at home improvement stores and garden centers. Pine bark, cypress mulch, orchid bark, and other substrates are frequently cheaper at these places than in retail pet stores. Just make sure the substrates you buy are clean and haven’t been treated with dangerous chemicals before you buy them.

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Pet snakes cost to buy
Pet owner with snake.
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About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs, her 14-year-old dog, or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

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