O.K. so now your ready to get a reptile. There are some important decisions to make before you go buy a reptile. You should consider the size of the reptile, and the cost. You should also become familiar with ways to select a healthy reptile. Another thing to think about is care of reptiles differ. Some require hard to find foods others require a special environment. And then some are just reluctant feeders by nature. If you are a beginner ask for a reptile that is good for someone just getting started. If you do these things before you get to the pet shop it can save you a lot of aggravation down the road.
This is a very important part in selecting your reptile. If you choose a reptile that gets too big you may have to give it away when it gets to that point. Large reptiles, especially snakes, are difficult to get rid of once they get big. That is one of the reasons the giant snakes can be so cheep. Ask the person selling you the reptile how big it will get. If you can't handle a snake that will get 20 feet long don't get it.
One factor that can affect the price is age. Younger reptiles tend to be less expensive than grown ones. If you are not planning to breed right away, there is no reason to pay for an adult reptile. If you get a reptile while it is young you know that it will have a long life ahead of it. An adult reptile may have already lived most of it's life out. Another factor is the type of reptile. The best advice I can give is to set a budget and stay within it. There are many "hidden costs" when dealing with reptiles. They will need a place to live, furnishings, food, heat and lighting. All of this can add up. So be aware. Look for alternative places to get some of the supplies you need. You can get lighting fixtures and bulbs much cheaper if you go to a home improvement or hardware store.
There are many places out there that will charge unreasonably high amounts of money. I have seen Ball Pythons go for $125.00. But, have also seen them for around $30.00. They do this because a lot of their business comes from people that are not informed. Do some comparisons and get informed. Find a reptile shop or breeder that you can rely on.
Selecting a healthy reptile:
There are many signs that a reptile may not be a choice specimen. Look at the condition of the shop. Is it messy? Also look at the cages. Is the substrate dirty? Is the glass dirty? Do the animals look cramped for space? Then if you can answer no to all of those questions. You may be in business. The next step is to examine the reptile. It should look healthy. Look around the mouth and eyes. These are areas where problems can easily be spotted. Some things to look for are clear and well shaped eyes. The mouth shouldn't be deformed or have any discharge. The inside should be a light pink in color and not look ashen or grey. When you pick a snake up the tounge should flicker actively. The reptile should be alert and inquizative. Most herp related stores will have care and information books. These usually will have a section on health. Just open the book to that section while your in the shop and start reading. This can save you a lot of time and money later. The books are a lot less expensive than a sick animal that has to be treated. Ask if the reptile is eating regularly. If the owner is unsure ask to see it eat. There are many diseases that can't be seen, so take the reptile to a vet soon after you buy it.