Is it Safe Buying Reptiles Online?

by David Lowbridge

With the internet, getting access to a wider variety of reptiles is easier. Whether you’re looking for a new morph of your favourite leopard gecko or ball python or perhaps a different type of snake/reptile than you can get at your local store, online stores might have the options. However, is it safe buying reptiles online?

The Safety of Buying Reptiles Online

Buying reptiles online can be safe. There are numerous breeders around the UK, USA, and other locations that accept all their orders online only. And some pet shops allow you to purchase from them for courier.

However, there are certain factors that you must consider when it comes to buying reptiles online. Here are some safety considerations.

1. Speak to the Seller

Whether it is through email, Facebook messenger, or telephone, always talk to the seller of the animal. Generally, you can get a good feeling from a conversation as to whether you can trust the seller.

There are some red flags that you should look out for. These are:

  • Asking for the full amount up front without offering additional photos/videos.
  • If they approach you about their available stock, always approach the seller.
  • The price is below the market value without a reason (i.e. old breeder, has a known genetic issue, etc.)
  • They don’t talk about the courier they use to ship to you.
  • They pressure you to make a purchase.

If you notice any red flags, you can walk away from the deal.

2. Recent Photos

When you’re talking to someone about an individual, you should be able to ask for recent photos of the individual. You should also be able to ask for a video. If they’re unwilling to deliver these, then it is likely they don’t have the animal, or the animal isn’t in the best of health.

However, don’t presume that an instant is always a warning sign. Give breeders at least 24 hours before walking away. Sometimes breeders have second jobs or the animal might have just fed, especially if it is a snake, and getting a photo might pose a risk (regurgitation with snakes is a big issue).

If there is a delay, the breeder is likely to give you a reason. But they should also set an expectation.

3. Get Details of the Courier

You must get the details of the courier from the seller. Therefore, you can confirm with the courier when their next dates are. Or perhaps even that there is a working relationship between the courier and the breeder.

4. Offer a Deposit

A good breeder should offer a deposit system. Deposits can vary between breeders with some offering a fixed amount or a percentage of the value of the animal. Pet shops that sell online don’t often offer this.

The full amount will need to be paid before the collection of the animal. However, you can arrange a suitable time with the breeder.

5. Payment Options

This is a controversial option for many. Payment options can vary. Some breeders only offer PayPal to Friends and Family. But this isn’t very secure and offers few benefits to the buyer. That is why you should consider sending it via business options, but you can always offer to pay the transaction fee.

Other payment options can include bank transfers. Banks now add in security to check that you are making a safe payment.

6. Animal Activities Licence

Another controversial subject in reptile breeding and selling is the Animal Activities Licence in the UK. According to law, anyone who advertises on more than one platform, sells throughout the year, sells more than one species, and sells to make a profit, should be considered a business and requires an animal activities licence.

The advantage of buying from someone with an AAL is that you know that they are meeting at least minimal standards of care for the animals under their care.

Final Word: Is it Safe Buying Reptiles Online?

It is safe to buy reptiles online, but you must protect yourself and follow some guidance. Above are some of the ways that you can be safer buying reptiles from an online store or breeder. And remember, if you want, you can always ask to come down and see the person. At DJL Exotics, we allow people to come into the facility and meet their parents.

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