Here we have listed some points that you need to consider BEFORE you decide from which person or business you are going to purchase your next reptile from. We have heard too many sad stories from people that have bought in good faith, only to discover too late that the seller was not very honest in their dealings. There are many good people to choose from in this industry. This is just a guide to help assist you with your choice.
What kind of a reputation does the seller have in the industry?
It is a lot easier to spend a little time asking others about a person or a business before you buy, rather than after the purchase when it may be too late. Most breeders will vouch for each other. Many will also, if they know the person you are asking about is questionable, steer you clear of a potential bad deal.
How long have they been in the reptile business?
This is not to say that they need to be in business 5 years before they can be trusted. Great new people start this business everyday and most of these people have had several years of experience with reptiles before they have gone "public". Experience comes with time. Those that have been working with reptiles the longest have the greater experience. Knowing someone has been in the business for many years can give you an idea that the people love what they are doing. Reptiles bought from those that love what they are doing usually are better reptiles. Some people enter the business because they think they can make a quick buck. They are here today and gone tomorrow, usually with your money. Again ask others about the people you are thinking of buying from and you may save yourself a lot of grief later.
Are they easy to contact when you need to talk to them?
How many times have you had a question about something and no one was there to answer your questions? Some people claim to always be available, but when you call all you get is an answering machine. You do not need an answering machine when you have an important question. There are times when you will get an answering machine, we all like to take vacations and we do have other commitments, however, all calls should be returned within a reasonable amount of time. Be sure the seller will also offer you after sales assistance and support. Remember if they are hard to get in touch with before the sale it will not be any easier after the sale.
Where all your questions answered to your satisfaction?
Make sure all your questions are answered. Do not be pushed into a sale you are not ready for at the time. Buying a book ahead of time can help answer many of your basic questions and may also bring up some new ones that you may not have considered. Being well informed about the reptile you are choosing to buy is the first step you need to take to be successful with that reptile.
Did they explain the shipping process to you?
Most snakes bought online are shipped airfreight collect to your nearest major airport. Be sure the seller explains this whole process to you. Some people spend many frustrating hours waiting at the airport for their snakes, as they were not told what to expect. Occasionally reptiles are shipped to you through UPS, Airborne etc. Only reptiles shipped through the airlines can be insured for live arrival by the carrier. UPS & Airborne do an excellent job and delivery to the door is nice especially when the airport is not close. Just remember that the carrier does not insure live arrival. Some breeders that use UPS or Airborne will guarantee live arrival of your purchase.
Did you get to see a picture of the reptile before you bought it?
Many breeders are able to offer photographs of the reptiles that they have available for sale so that you may choose the one that you want. It is important to remember that for some this would be an impossible task especially when dealing with hundreds of hatchlings of some species. Where it is possible try to see a photo of what you are purchasing.
Do they offer records with the reptile you are buying?
Buying a reptile that comes with a history is best. The history can provide important information such as weight gain and feeding schedules. Some breeders do not take the time to offer such records as they say it takes too much time. Keeping such records does take allot of time. Many breeders do offer this and it is nice to know this information about your snake. Some of the information that can be included is hatch date, hatch weight, shed dates, feeding dates, genealogy and food preference. You can bet that if the seller keeps this kind of information that the reptile has been well cared for before you get it.
Does the deal sound "too good to be true"?
You know the old saying. "If it seems to good to be true it probably is". Many times the cheapest deal is not the best deal in the long run. Extra money spent now on a quality reptile from a reputable breeder will make you a happy reptile owner later.
Do they offer several methods of payment?
Sometimes people will only accept cash. Did you see the "RED FLAG"? With the Internet today there are many options available for payment. Do not be pressed into paying cash if you do not wish to. Many breeders accept many forms of payment; i.e. Credit Cards, Bank Checks, Money Orders, etc. Beware of those that do not. If it is a private party you are buying from ask them for a reference or two. Better to be safe than sorry.
Last of all be sure you are ready to care for a reptile.
They can live up to 40 years or more for some tortoises, so it is a long commitment. Make sure that you will be able, to the best of your knowledge, to provide the proper caging, food and care that your reptile will require for the time that they will be in your care.