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  1. #1
    Registered User ApathyAngel's Avatar
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    Finances and ethics, need help

    So there's someone near me who has a horribly neglected adult ball python. No idea of the age or sex, it's a Petco special. Emaciated and severely dehydrated, and in such a small tank, it can barely move. It also has a heat light but no temp control and no humidity (we live in the desert).

    When I saw the snake this morning, I asked about it and the owners said it hasn't eaten in months, and it's lived a few years now "with no problems," but they say it's boring and would be open to the possibility of selling it to me if I want it.

    Both my husband and I have been laid off. We're okay for now, but things are tight and have to be planned out.

    We have a 6yo female now (Eden), and even her tank is a little on the small side. I was planning on upgrading her to a properly sized tank, but now we have to wait. So she's in an 36x18x12 enclosure now (I know, I know. I'm working on it. But when we budgeted her upgrades after we got laid off, I decided that making sure I can properly control her humidity was a higher priority than the size of the tank).

    So obviously, the cost is a problem. I threw out all of Eden's old stuff when I upgraded so I'd have to buy new stuff for this adult, which will cause a strain on us financially. We have an 18x18x12 tank, that we kept Eden in when she was smaller, but that's barely any bigger than the one this sick adult is in now.

    And it's far from healthy. And if I get it, that means both it and Eden will have to wait even longer until I can upgrade them to the right size tanks. And the sick one will need the bigger tank more, which means Eden will have to wait even longer.

    Further, potential vet costs are a problem. We have an emergency vet fund if something happens to either Eden or our dog, Galaxy, but the likelihood of this new adult wiping out that fund is high. Which means that, if Eden or Galaxy were to get hurt or sick, we'd be screwed.

    I'm really struggling with the ethics of this. I can barely afford to take care of the snake I have, so it seems obvious that I shouldn't get another one.

    But at the same time, this poor snake is being tortured. I feel like even a too-small tank and the cheapest equipment I can find would still be better than where the snake is now.

    But I know Eden's current tank is too small. I need to do right by her and she NEEDS a larger tank. I had her first, I've had her for 4 years, so would it be ethical to make her stay in that tank longer than is absolutely necessary?

    Is it ethical to leave a tortured animal in such horrible pain when I know I can do something to help it?

    And yes, I'm scouring craigslist every day for used tanks. Haven't found any yet that are cheap enough and in good enough shape. Some people are wanting like $100 for a 75 gallon tank. If I could spare $100, I would've saved up just a little more and gotten a brand new one.

    I'm looking for some input about what would be the right thing to do here. It feels wrong to leave the adult in that situation, but it also feels wrong to take it in when I can't afford to give it and Eden the space they need.

    Any kind of input would be greatly appreciated.

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  3. #2
    BPnet Veteran Craiga 01453's Avatar
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    First off, good on you for wanting to help.

    Second, a 36x18x12 enclosure is fine for an adult ball python. That's the size many of us keep our BPs in, myself included.
    So don't sweat that.

    I personally would say now isn't a good time. You're almost definitely going to be hit with vet bills and taking care of your current animals should take priority.

    I know it's heartbreaking, and we'd help them all if we could, but we can't.

    You'd also have to be extremely careful and follow a strict quarantine to be sure your current snake remained healthy.

    Best of luck with your decision. is beautiful...

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    Alicia (06-26-2020),ApathyAngel (06-26-2020),Bogertophis (06-26-2020),christineho (06-26-2020),dakski (06-26-2020),PartySnake13 (06-26-2020),Toad37 (06-26-2020)

  5. #3
    BPnet Senior Member GoingPostal's Avatar
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    Would the owners be open to suggestions on care? I agree it doesn't sound like the snake would be a good fit for your household right now. Perhaps you can find a reptile or exotic animal rescue near you? Vets might know of someone too. For your own snake, have you considered setting her up in a tub enclosure if money is tight? Generally a lot cheaper to pick one of those up, you can find one better shaped for a ball python (more floor space), they hold humidity much better than a glass tank and you can heat with just a heat mat if your ambient temp is already warm.
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  7. #4
    bcr229's Avatar
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    These work fine for adult ball pythons and they only cost $20:

    Add heat tape and a thermostat, water bowl, hides, newspaper substrate, done.

    Vetting will be a different issue. Hopefully after being rehydrated and in proper temps/humidity for a few days the snake will eat and be fine. If not, you may have to make the tough choice of paying a lot at the vet versus euthanizing.

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  9. #5
    BPnet Veteran Bogertophis's Avatar
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    I'd not want to pay anyone for such a snake (in obvious poor condition) & since things are so tight for you right now, maybe you'd feel better by "helping", as in helping
    them find another person (or "rescuer") more able to take on that BP. It honestly sounds like something you should pass on, but your heart is in the right place...
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  11. #6
    Registered User ApathyAngel's Avatar
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    Re: Finances and ethics, need help

    Thank you everyone. I think I already knew that I couldn't take it, maybe just needed to hear someone else say it.

    That, and I got Eden in a very similar way, and that turned out awesome. She wasn't in nearly as bad shape as this one, though.
    Quote Originally Posted by bcr229 View Post
    These work fine for adult ball pythons and they only cost $20:

    Add heat tape and a thermostat, water bowl, hides, newspaper substrate, done.

    Vetting will be a different issue. Hopefully after being rehydrated and in proper temps/humidity for a few days the snake will eat and be fine. If not, you may have to make the tough choice of paying a lot at the vet versus euthanizing.
    I've thought a lot about the tub, actually. The problem is I've never used it (or heat tape) before and wouldn't want to learn on the fly with a very sick python. If it passed, I'd always wonder if I'd done something wrong.

    I've only ever used either glass or wood/glass, with my BPs, jungle carpet python, and retic. I'd be really nervous about switching with such a sick snake.

    Maybe with Eden or another healthy snake down the line, who would be more forgiving if I screw something up and get the temps or humidity off.

    Bogertophis, yeah I always hate when people charge for pets, but where I live, it's always frowned upon to give an animal away for free. Everyone asks for a rehoming fee (the thinking is that if someone is willing to pay a rehoming fee, they're more likely to take better care of the animal. But if these owners are not taking care of the animal and don't care if it goes to a good home, why bother?).

    I don't know many experienced snake folks here in town that have the time or space to take a sick one in, so I'll see if I can convince the owners to surrender it to a shelter. Occasionally the shelter near my house will get a ball python in, and it's always adopted out immediately. So I imagine they'd be motivated to nurse the poor thing back to health and get it adopted by someone who will actually take good care of it.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

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    Bogertophis (06-27-2020)

  13. #7
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    Not necessarily. If you are referring to your county shelters, many around the country are always on a strict budget, lack supplies and fosters, and even hiring a veterinarian full-time can be an issue. For one major reason is because they are usually open admission, meaning they can take in every pet, regardless of lack of space. If the animal arrives sick (treatable), and no rescue and/foster steps in, they are euthanized for space. Many don't have the money, staff, supplies or the ability to nurture it to good health. This applies to dogs, cats, kittens, puppies, bunnies, reptiles, etc... It is a tragedy.

    So your best bet is a rescue. Contact exotic vet offices near you. Many vets work with rescues, so they may know someone who can help, or in the best scenario, the vet himself or herself is a herp keeper and takes it in. Or reach out to your local herp society, many will take in rescues and fosters them.

    Do not pay a penny for that snake. It is a terrible thing that they have done. It is not your responsibility, not anyone else's burden. This is on them. If it dies, it is on them to deal with it. Out of sight, out of mind, people like that learns nothing if they know people like you will help them. It is disgusting behavior on their part.

    It is tough to not want to walk away, trust me, I recently took in a rescue kitten. She is a reminder of why I got out of rescue work years ago. It wasn't planned, I was hoping someone else would step in to do this, but nope, my neighbor either chase it down or they ignore her cries for food. The costs of her vet bills for something so small adds up quickly, and she is not ill. For a sick exotic pet, your vet bills will triple than your average domestic rescue. It is negligence like this that makes me crazy when I meet some idiot who won't spay or neuter their pets, or you know, be responsible pet owners. Such preventable suffering, and at the cost financially and mentally for those who have to fix their mess.
    Last edited by Cheesenugget; 06-26-2020 at 10:43 PM.

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    Bogertophis (06-27-2020)

  15. #8
    Registered User Vegan.Hiker's Avatar
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    I’m sorry to hear about your economic situation. Since you asked for advice, I’ll give you my recommendation. I firmly believe that when you take on the responsibility of a pet, you owe it to that animal to do your absolute best to care for it properly. In this case, that would mean not taking on another pet that would divert limited resources away from your current pet. Unfortunately there will always be other animals out there that need saving, but you can’t go down that slippery slope as it will never end. So I strongly believe your first priority should be to honor your commitment to give your current pet the best care possible. I sincerely wish you the best of luck getting back on your feet.
    Last edited by Vegan.Hiker; 06-26-2020 at 11:37 PM.

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