Important! Before you buy a ball python, you’ll want to have the enclosure set up. This way, you’ll have everything ready for when the snake comes home.
There are many places you can go to find a ball python.
Rescue or Shelter
You can find your nearest shelter or rescue and ask if they have any ball pythons up for adoption. Some ball pythons in shelters are snakes that were someone’s pet, but that person could no longer care for him/her. The advantages to getting a ball python from a shelter is that he/she may already be a little older, come with an enclosure, and it’s always good to give a needy animal a home! However, you do risk not knowing where the ball python is coming from, how it was taken care of previously, and if it has any diseases that the shelter is unaware of. You can still find a healthy ball python at your shelter, though, you just need to know what to look out for.
You can find many breeders online who are willing to ship to you the ball python of your choice. One way to find out if the ball python you’re looking into is coming from a reputable breeder is to check the Board of Inquiry. There you can search the breeders name, and see what people say about them who have had experiences buying from them. You can also ask around and find out where the people you know have gotten their ball pythons from. Buying online also means you’ll have to pay a Shipping & Handling fee for the snake to be delivered. Make sure the breeder you buy from is shipping the snake to you overnight with a live arrival guarantee! You will have to be present the morning of the arrival to receive your new snake, check it over, and put it in its new home.
If you live in the United States, you may also find ball pythons for sale via Craigslist. However, the prices of ball pythons on Craiglist may be higher (or lower) than what’s on the market. You might also find that people are selling ball pythons that are ill, or poorly kept. You might end up with a ball python that has issues that the previous owner didn’t want to tell you about. There are certainly some good people on Craiglist… Just make sure you go see the set up the owner had, how the snake was kept, how long the owner has had it, and what/how it’s being fed.
Directly From A Breeder
Visiting a breeder’s facility is not a common option, but if you happen to know a breeder near you, you might be able to schedule a visit to their facility and see the snakes they have to offer. Buying directly from a breeder can be great if you can get to know the breeder first-hand, pick the snake you want, and take it home. Use your gut instinct: is the place clean? Are the cages clean? Is the breeder respectful? How willing is the breeder to answer your questions? By buying from a breeder directly, you also won’t need to pay a Shipping & Handling fee. See “Choosing a Healthy Ball Python” for tips on how to select a healthy snake.
From A Pet Store
Buying from a pet store can be a “hit or miss” situation. Some pet stores sell quality ball pythons from reputable breeders, and will do a good job at taking care of them. Other stores will keep their ball pythons in poor conditions. It may be tempting to buy a ball python from a poorly-kept pet store to “save” the snake… but by buying from that pet store, you are actually creating the demand that then perpetuates the supply. Simply put, by buying that snake, you are only making a space for a new snake to be put in the same place. Check how the snakes are being kept in one enclosure at the pet store. Ball pythons that are housed together are usually experiencing a lot of stress. Do they have fresh water? Do they look healthy? How many are in one cage? What is the set up they have them in?
From A Reptile Show or Expo
Going to a reptile show/expo can be a great experience. You’ll get to meet lots of breeders and see all sorts of ball pythons! Be sure to check the reputation of the breeders that will be selling at the expo beforehand. You’ll probably be able to find a breeder that has the type of ball python you’re looking for at an expo. The benefits of shopping at an expo is that you’ll have a lot more selection to choose from, and the prices may be somewhat more affordable. You’ll get to inspect the snake you want, and take it with you on the spot. The breeder/seller should be engaging, friendly, and willing to answer all your questions.