How Much Do Snakes Cost?
December 8, 2020
Cost Of Owning A Snake
A common question people ask is “How much does it cost to own a snake?”. There is no one answer, as there are so many variables that go into this question. What kind of snake are you looking at? Do you want a fancy morph (colors and patterns on the snake), or are you looking for a more natural look? Depending on the morph, the price of a snake can vary widely. To better answer your question, here is a table of some of the most common pet snakes along with their general price ranges:
|Species||Average Price||Cheap Morph||Fancy Morph|
If you were to mix and match the cheapest options available, it would cost roughly $300 to purchase a cheaper morph snake with all of its necessities. Yearly upkeep on snakes costs about $200. That $200 includes all food, bedding costs, and light bulb changes.
Now that you have a better understanding of the initial cost of purchasing your snake, it's time to dive deeper into the cost of your snake’s necessities and maintenance.
Snake Enclosure Cost
The cost of your snake’s enclosure is determined by a number of factors. The bigger the snake, the larger the tank, and typically the larger the tank, the more expensive. You can expect to spend between $100 and $450 on an enclosure depending on your snake's needs. Here is a list of common snake enclosures along with their average price:
- 30 gallon/36x18x12 = $60 (suitable for a hognose or rosy boa)
- 40 gallon/36x18x16 = $100 (suitable for a garter snake, corn snake, milk snake, king snake, or any of the snakes listed above)
- 55 gallon/48x13x21 = $150 (suitable for any of the snakes listed above)
- 75 gallon/48x18x21 = $210 (suitable for a ball python, as well as any of the snakes listed above)
- 36x18x18 = $275 (suitable for a hognose, rosy boa, or garter snake)
- 36x18x24 = $300 (suitable for a corn snake, king snake, or milk snake)
- 36x18x36 = $380 (Suitable for any of the snakes listed above - could house 2 garter snakes as well)
- 48x18x18 = $400 (suitable for a ball python, as well as any of the snakes listed above)
- 48x24x24 = $450 (suitable for any of the snakes listed above)
- 36x18x18 = $300 (suitable for a hognose, rosy boa, or garter snake)
- 36x24x18 = $330 (suitable for a corn snake, king snake, or milk snake)
- 36x24x24 = $340 (suitable for any of the snakes listed above)
- 48x24x24 = $410 (suitable for a ball python, as well as any of the snakes listed above)
Remember that prices will vary depending on brand and where you buy. Another factor to consider is what kind of tank would be best suited for your snake. For example, ball pythons tend to do best in PVC tanks, but corn snakes do well in glass tanks. I have an article comparing glass tanks to PVC tanks here if you need some help deciding which is best for you. Also, it's always a good idea to check out buy and sell sites, tanks can be found used for much cheaper.
Substrate Cost For Snakes
There are several different kinds of substrates to choose from, some are better suited for specific snakes, but they are all relatively cheap.
- Aspen Shavings — This is the most common bedding to be used with any snake. It is readily available at almost any pet store, as well as here on Chewy. This bedding will need to be changed out once a month. Keep in mind, aspen shavings do not work well in high humidity situations.
- Coconut Husk — This bedding is an excellent choice for tropical snakes (such as ball pythons) because it helps maintain a high humidity. It can be a bit more challenging to find in stores than aspen shavings, but I have never had a problem finding it here on Chewy. Just like aspen, it will also need to be completely replaced once every month. Don’t mistake coconut husk for coconut fiber/coir, which is a finer version.
- Reptile carpet — Reptile carpet is a thin piece of fabric that you can cut to fit your enclosure. The prices of these vary by size, however they are all relatively cheap. If you choose to go this route you will need to buy a back up carpet. When you deep clean your reptile’s carpet, you will want to switch out carpets so your reptile isn't without substrate for any length of time. The advantage to reptile carpet is that it is a one time purchase, as opposed to replacing substrate every month. The disadvantage to reptile carpet is that your snake will not be able to burrow, and even the most arboreal corn snake loves to burrow on occasion.
Heating And Lighting Cost
Another factor to account for when calculating the cost of owning a snake is their heating and lighting requirements. Snakes are cold blooded creatures, meaning they cannot regulate their own body temperatures without the help of a heating element. Snakes do not need a red light or night bulb, don’t let a pet store employee try to tell you otherwise. A night bulb can disrupt their sleep patterns. Here are a few heating and lighting types that you can choose from.
- Heat light and dome — The prices of heat lights vary depending on the wattage, but they’re typically between $2 - $12 per bulb. You will need to put this bulb into a dome, which run between $10 - $20
- CHE and dome — CHE (ceramic heat emitter) is another type of heater. CHE has no lighting, so this is beneficial for heating the tank at night. However, since CHE emits no light, you will need to supplement by adding a light source such as a UVB light. The cost of CHE is between $10 - $30 depending on the wattage. You will also need to purchase a dome, costing between $10 - $20
- Heat mat — Heat mats are a heating source that goes under the hot side of the tank, putting off no light. Again, this makes them perfect for night time heating, however, you will need to supplement with a lighting source as well. It should also be noted that if you have substrate a couple inches deep the heat mat may not put off enough heat for your snake. These average between $10 - $40 depending on the size and wattage of the mat.
- UVB and dome — UVB lighting is not required for any snake, however they can be very beneficial. UVB lighting has been known to increase activity, boost immune systems, and brighten a snake’s colors. UVB bulbs cost roughly $10 and their domes cost between $10 - $20.
- Thermometer/Hygrometer — A hygrometer and a thermometer are mandatory for all snake enclosures. Ideally you will want one on the warm end and one on the cool end, to make sure that you’re providing your snake with the appropriate temperatures and humidity. Each hygrometer/thermometer will cost you about $15.
- Spray bottle — Some tropical species of snakes (such as ball pythons) require a high humidity. It is important to invest in a mister or spray bottle to keep their humidity in the right range. You can purchase cheap spray bottles at dollar stores for only a few bucks, or you can invest in a higher quality mister like this one for around $10.
Cost Of Decor
The decorations you place in your snake’s enclosure are not just for looks. Decor can improve your snake feeling of security, enrich their lives, and provide textures to rub against to assist them with their shed. Decor is a one time purchase, unless your snake outgrows their accessories.
- Hides — Your snake will need 2 of these. One will go on the hot end, and one will go on the cool end. These are essential because they will supply your snake with security so that they are comfortable moving between temperature zones. Each hide will cost roughly $20.
- Water dish — A water dish that is big enough for your snake to soak in is a necessity. If you are looking at a bigger snake, I would recommend purchasing a large ceramic dish. I use this exact dish with my ball pythons. These will be too heavy for your snake to flip over. If you have a smaller snake, you should look at getting a corner dish. Snakes like to patrol the perimeter of their enclosures at night, so having a corner dish like this one will ensure that they get the opportunity to drink. Water dishes cost about $10.
- Leaves and sticks — Leaves and sticks are essential for your snake as they add enrichment and encourage exercise. You can purchase suction cup vines for about $5. Sticks are usually a bit more pricey, ranging between $8 - $60. If you don’t want to drop a lot of money on sticks, you can look around your yard for some cool ones as long as you sanitize them before using them. If you want to learn how to properly sanitize sticks for your snake, I have an article on it here.
Cost Of Feeding A Snake
The cost of feeding snakes is relatively cheap, as they usually only eat about one mouse or rat a week at most. The larger the mouse or rat, the more expensive, however, if you buy frozen mice or rats in bulk you can save a lot of money. It will cost roughly $100 a year to feed one medium sized snake (large snakes will cost more).
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