Why you Should NOT Save the Sick Snake from the Pet Store


Have you ever been to a pet store and you’ve noticed a sick or neglected reptile in one of the habitats? You may want to buy that reptile to rescue it and get it out of that situation. However, doing so may not be the best thing for the reptiles in the long run. Today I’m going to be sharing with you how you should respond and what you should do if you do see a sick reptile in a pet store. [Intro music] Common health issues you may see in reptiles at pet stores include stuck shed when it comes to snakes and lizards. It can get stuck on, like, geckos quite often if their humidity levels aren’t right. Or, you may see skinny or malnourished reptiles. Either way, it’s not a good thing to see that, especially on the sales floor. So, if you notice an animal that is sick or neglected, the first thing you should do is notify management. Get–find management in the store and talk to them and politely make them aware of the situation and that the animal looks sick or that it’s unhealthy in general and see what the management does. See if they improve the conditions. Give the store about a week to straighten things out and improve the enclosure. And if things haven’t improved after that week, then the next thing you should do is contact the corporate office of the business, if they have one. A lot of the big chain retail stores have a customer support line that you can call and you can report concerns over animal health. And that should be your next step. Again, give them a week afterwards. Many retail stores will actually call you if you talk to cooperate and report something wrong with their enclosures and they will tell you what they are going to do to fix it. Not all retail stores will do this, it’s really just the two big chain stores in the United States anyway that will call you back if you contact corporate. But, then again, give them a whole week to fix the enclosures and check back again. If things still haven’t improved in the animal’s enclosure, then, I would suggest taking it to the next level and take a picture of the living conditions the animal is being kept in and post it on social media Get the word out there that that store is not properly taking care of their animals. You can post your observations and concerns on their Facebook page and you can actually tag the business as well so that they see the post. You can post it on Twitter on Instagram, any social media platform you can think of. Basically just spread awareness and make the public aware of what they’re doing to their animals. Another thing you can do is review the business on Google. Look up their Google business listing and insert your review and share your opinion and include pictures if at all possible. The company will likely see this because lots of companies will check regularly their own Google reviews to see how things are looking. And if they notice there’s a lot of negative reviews that, uh, involve animal care, they will likely improve their animal care to not only improve their own self image but therefore to improve business. As tough as it may be, don’t feel obligated to buy the animal and rescue it and get it out of that situation because that sadly only supports the business and encourages them to purchase another animal to take its place and therefore be subjected too the same mistreatment as the previous one. But, if you don’t purchase that animal and it just doesn’t sell because it’s sick and so nobody wants to buy it or if it passes away in the store’s care then the company is out the money that it cost to buy the animal and care for it during the time they had it in the store and they have less incentive to replace it then afterwards. This is especially true with more expensive species of reptiles. Sadly the more common species like ball pythons, bearded dragons, and leopard geckos are so cheap at a wholesale price that even if one or two passes away the company’s likely not to change their habits on what animals they care for and how they take care of them they’re just gonna buy another one and replace it. That’s why it’s -so important- to get the word out there of any mistreatment that you see that hasn’t been improved on and post pictures on social media platforms. Of course keep in mind that not all pet stores are going to neglect their pets. Not even the big chain pet stores are all going to, like, neglect or mistreat their animals. Uh, if you don’t already know, I worked at PetSmart. I was at one of the big retail pet stores for over nine years and I was in management there I was in charge of the pet care department. And I made sure my team took excellent care of the reptiles, because of course they were my favorites. So I made sure they were properly cared for along with all the other animals in the department. The tough part of a pet store employee is that there are certain protocols you have to follow and if you do not follow them you can get in trouble and possibly lose your job. An example of this would be giving ball pythons live rodents if they refuse frozen-thawed rodents. The policy when i worked at PetSmart was that you could only feed snakes frozen-thawed rodents and if they refused it you could not try to feed them live. That was just against policy. So what we did was instead of letting the snake starve to death cause it would refuse frozen-thawed we would adopt it out to a customer that could take good care of it and could offer it live rodents and thats kind of a good compromise. Another one of the policies there is that if any animal whether it be a reptile, small animal, bird, or other has any physical deformities or any chronic health issues that have been cleared by the vet as something thats just gonna be with the animal, like a hamster with diabetes. It’s not something you can cure it’s just something the animal’s going to have for the rest of it’s life. In any of those sorts of instances the animal gets adopted for free to a customer that has the experience to properly take care of that special needs animal. So where I worked at least, at my location, uh, we made sure the animals had really good care, but I can’t say the same for all locations out there and all pet stores of course. It all depends on their pet care team and their dedication to the animal’s welfare. Another thing to keep in mind is that there are multiple ways to properly take care of reptiles and the animals at pet stores are in temporary set ups. They’re only there until they’re sold and then they are moved to a permanent enclosure at their new owners house. Of course if the animal has stuck shed or it’s severely dehydrated or it’s malnourished that’s one thing. Obviously there’s something wrong in the enclosure, something seriously wrong. But, if say the store houses a ball python in kind of a smaller enclosure, that’s not necessarily something that you need to report to corporate, or spread on social media because again, the animal is just in there temporarily until its sold. So overall, the best thing thing to do is to notify the proper people whether it be management, corporate, or the public about the care of the animals that the pet store is providing. And that will likely be the most effective thing you can do when it comes to the care of that animal and future animals. And of course if you are bringing it to the public level make sure you take pictures of it to make people aware of what’s really going on. Anyway, I hope today’s video kinda helped explain how you should approach a mistreated animal in a pet store, so that you can not only improve that animals care, but you can also improve the care of all the other animals they have in the future. As always, thank you for watching and thank you to all of our Patreon supporters for backing this channel. And we’ll see you next time! [Outro music]

100 thoughts on “Why you Should NOT Save the Sick Snake from the Pet Store

  1. Pickle Rick!! @5:56, seen him in other vid's too. Have I missed a secret behind this or is it a cheeky placement?

  2. All but 1 of my previous reptiles were adopted from petstores.. unfortunately they were adopted out a little too late and had severely shortened lives because of their issues.

  3. I SAVED A IGUANA BECAUSE THE PET SEND THAT THEY WHERE GETTING OF HER BECAUSE SHE WAS SICK AND NOW SHES HEALTHY BUT STILL A BABY

  4. The PetCo near me has a fantastic Pet Care team, but the PetCo I used to go to on the other side of the state was terrible! So you're absolutely right, it isn't the chain necessarily, its the team.
    Might I add, the PetCo I used to go to, is under new management now.

  5. Very true. Same goes with all animals. O look, sick goldfish! I will rescue one and pay the petstore enough to buy Five more!

  6. Great advice as usual. Your educational videos are always factual and authoritative and are a reliable resource for us reptilian pet lovers.

  7. Once I saw a sick betta fish on the floor of the tank, I told the only person that was there that the fish was sick and they just told me it was sleeping

  8. I went to my local pet store the other day and I looked at all the tanks on the "wall" and I saw a ton of dead fish stuck to the filters, there were about 4 dying betta fish and there was a lonely betta fish in "the wall" tank I asked the worker and she said they were seeing how they (betta fish) get alngnon the wall. There was this poor fish that had white stuff growing on it and it didn't look like it was being treated..

  9. I work at a petsmart and we’ve been cohabiting the ball pythons and Ive been trying so hard to convince the management to split them up but still nothing happens. We’ve already had one die from stress before this and I cant stand it. But Im not being listened to, and I dont know what to do.

  10. I worked at a pet store about 5 years ago. A rainbow boa got a respiratory infection and stuck shed around his nose. I told my boss and he ripped the shed off, sprayed some water on it and said the snake would be fine. The infection got worse, his nose wouldn't heal, and finally my boss told me, "just stick it in the freezer." I took it home that day, got it to the vet, gave it injections everyday for weeks. It's healthy and happy now and I don't regret a thing.

  11. Biggest problem I had working for a retail store is the bedding issue. Beardie on sand is one issue. Bark with crested would be another The fight to keep humidity because of the companies bedding choices. Hated this and then try to explain to a customer why I would not use it even though my company says yes, or explain I agree to a knowledgable reptile keeper but I could get fired

  12. After I got my hamster, I noticed that his ear was bitten off. They were keeping a type of hamster that liked being alone, in cages of 10 or so.

    The lady also talk me to put cotton in the cage as bedding. Hamsters eat part of their bedding and cotton or something with dust is unhealthy for them!

    Pets at home in my area has less knowledge on an animal than a 12 year old me after maybe a week or two of research

  13. I find this channel fascinating, but I have never had and never will have a reptile for a pet. I like them, but not enough to keep one. I prefer mammals for pets. I have had friends who had them, and I held some and even help feed one room mate's corn snake (frozen-thawed pinky mice). I don't go into big pet shops, but I have been in several small ones over the years. Worst thing I saw was one owner had a small bear chained to a tree in his front yard (he ran the shop out of an addition to his house). Aside from that, the only negatives I remember are dead fish.

  14. Petsmart and Petco especially are guilty of this from what I’ve seen. Especially with their chameleons and snakes 🙁 Thank you for talking about this! It’s a big issue that really breaks my heart

  15. Also at most pet stores they keep the pets in smaller enclosures for show and when the stores closed they move them to bigger ones if they need to

  16. I used to have a snake named Molly (I think I she was a python. I knew nil about reptiles back then), she's in Reptile Heaven now. R.I.P Molly the ???

  17. Where should I order quality frozen mice? Our breeding program is not keeping up. Also, how small of a CO2 can can I buy and where? Thanks in advance. P.S. love the channel!

  18. When I got my bearded dragon I didn’t notice he had a messed up tail until I got him now 6 months later he still has a messed up tail but I still see him as normal as my other reptiles ?

  19. Having worked at petsmart a few years ago, and from what i'v heard from other people who have/do work for them a lot of the care depends on management as well as how much employees decide to educate themselves. The management I had was unfortunately very poor, and often I would tell my manager about the rats/birds being sick or needing attention and it would drag on for weeks until they would do something despite having a vet in the building. That is not true of all locations as if the management cares about the animals well being and knows what to look for they can order care for the animals readily.

    My only complaint that I have heard/seen about them is that they often hire management outside of the company and often those with no animal experience, but that have management experience, will be hired and not trained on what to look for. Employees also are not required to have any animal care experience particularly, so it is up to employees to do their research, often on their own time, to ensure the care of the animals.

    Done well I wouldn't say the chain stores are the worst, but definitely get to know how the management and employees of the shop you use treat the animals as it is on them, not corporate directly, to ensure the animals are well cared for and that prospective owners get the right information.

    This video says everything that you should do to help change things, A+ Snake discovery

  20. Omg this is so true I work in one of the big name pet stores and even though a lot of the petcare team is very attentive not all of them are so even if you just tell another regular employee the problem they will very often tell the management team themselves after help fixing the problem

  21. Thanks for the advice. There’s a chain store in my town that monopolized the pet trade and have the WORST animal care. The fish, birds, reptiles and mammals are in terrible conditions. Tiny cages, over crowding, dead animals ugh
    They give the wrong advice, but don’t even follow their own advice. They had a tortoise by itself for months with a sign saying they should be housed together of they get depression. How could I do that if you’re only selling one?? It died I think.
    Luckily a new (still a chain) opened and seems to have less animals and much better care

  22. There is 1 good petsmart in wpg, in the north end. I work with them sometimes on reptile cases. Any Petland, is a joke and they SUCK at a head office level of caring for animals they let them die. Best west is another bad one. Even the 1 reptile store we have is dirty and gross

  23. This is always something I struggle with. I've known about it for a long time but dang my heart breaks whenever I see a poor baby in pain. I'm a sucker for rodents, and I'm essentially you but with small rodents. I'll definitely talk to management next time I see poor care though!
    I'm curious on your thoughts on adopting animals in pet stores at all? of course adopt don't shop is more popular, and I'd rather get my animals from a reputable breeder than a store who i don't know where they get the animals from. I'm very curious on your thoughts on where your beliefs are on this. My personal beliefs is to try sort of everything. I've rescued, and gotten one from a pet store. But I'm curious! Love your videos! I'm not a huge reptile nerd, but I'm always a sucker for learning about animals! Keep on going! (ps my favorite thing is whenever editing has the animals in the background being like 'henlo gimme food. pay attention to me plz. food? foOD?) ok have a lovely day!!

  24. About 7 or 8 years ago, I got a tortoise from PetSmart and he passed away within a few weeks of me having him. We weren't even aware that he was sick and we had done everything to properly care for him. We told the store and they took his bodh to do an autopsy at the vet (which we never got the results for and we never knew the cause of death) they offered to replace my tortoise, but sadly that one died less than a month later 🙁 needless to say, I don't go to petsmart anymore.

  25. I saw on another channel that it was a myth that some snakes would never eat frozen mice? I’m not critiquing you but I’m just genuinely wondering the truth to this topic because you seem extremely knowledgeable but so did the other channel.

  26. I thought you stopped making videos then I realized YouTube unsubscribed me and no more notifications. Did you accidentally say something political?!?

  27. We need to report you keeping your alligator in a tiny enclosure despite the opportunity to hand her over to a sanctuary who can give her a real home. Your logic is “since she had such a shitty home before, this is better and good enough!” No absolutely not, you might think it’s cool to have an alligator as a pet, but you don’t have the resources to provide as good of a home is a sanctuary would. I suggest you do the right thing and find Rex a much better environment.

  28. Thanks for posting this video! I too used to work at Petsmart, and having good pet care management is key. Fortunately our store did a great job of providing for the animals in their care and making sure they put the well fare of the animal above making a profit. We would even adopt our animals out once they started to grow too big for the store enclosures, again to make sure they got the proper care they needed. It saddens me to know not every store takes proper care of their animals, but it's also great to know there are a lot too that do.

  29. I appreciate this video very much as it does not attack chain stores altogether but it does bring to attention that stores differ even within the same company. I used to work for a chain store and it really opened my eyes to how these animals are treated and how incorrectly some places care for them. We made sure to keep educated and made changes accordingly. I learned a lot while working there, whether it was from my coworkers or even from customers. I even did my own research on the animals we kept in store. I knew most that there was to know about small animals so I did research on reptiles and birds. And I fell in love with reptiles. Unfortunately there was only so much we could do such as keeping our ball pythons together or receiving so many sick animals. Our managers wouldn't let us keep BP's alone if we had more than two because we had limited space and they wanted them on the floor. I wish they would have just ordered two at a time but..oh well. I have since left and as much as I fell in love with my work I don't think I will go back. I feel that some (not all) of the breeders were only in it for the money. And as a result I saw a lot of animals die. Now I have made a decision to open an exotic pet supplies store with a small animal rescue. My husband also wants to do some breeding of reptiles as well. I apologize for the long post, it's just something I feel so passionate about! Anyways, have a lovely day to all

  30. I can't agree with turning a blind eye to seeing suffering animals. I understand the point being made by not purchasing them, but don't punish the animals further than they already are by living in those conditions.

  31. This is wonderful to have been discussed as it is so hard for most people to know exactly what to do about this. Wonderfully done, Emily!

  32. Unfortunately even all this stuff sometimes doesn't prevent horrible care 🙁

    There's a store where I used to live that had horrible care for reptiles (snakes looked dehydrated, bad shedding, even dead ones still on display). There was multiple instances of photographic evidence and has been reported to the RSPCA and other wildlife authorities but nothing is done seeing as they aren't "cute" animals.

    Reviews dont work because they bury them with fake reviews or flat out block people that bad mouth them.

  33. At my local petco they have a small tank of like 2 to 3 turtles at a time, well one day i went there to look at the turtles and one had a huge chunk of flesh and what not out of the back of their neck. I told an employee n waited 45 mins by the turtles for someone to come and take it in back… A week later i was told they put it down after that. I was extremely angry. Still not sure how i feel about that…

  34. My family use to adopt and foster special needs rodents ranging from degus to rats from our local pet shop, the only reason we stopped was because my mother got too ill to help look after them

  35. Recently (the past few months) I was at a country junction and noticed that their Kenyan sand boa was seizing. It was on top the sand and writhing around and appeared to have a wound down it's side. Fortunately the manager for the pet area immediately brought the snake out and to the vet. He got better and was eventually available for purchase, after they changed his enclosure setup and hide (there was a broken piece that went unnoticed)

  36. Some countries also have animal associations that are a type of animal welfare authority where you can report concerns
    regarding animal treatment. They will usually visit the pet owner (or in this case pet store) and make sure things are taken
    care of. If things don't improve within a certain time that they agree on then they can even take the animal away from them.

  37. In my experience I have never seen a sick reptile in petsmart , but I've seen and heard some alarming things about the places they get there reptiles.

  38. great news! I got the manger at the petco in pasadena to offer a humidity box to a ball python with some stuck shed issues!

  39. Oh my god did you see that budgerigar irl? If so you DEFINITELY should have bought it. That poor thing would have died within hours without treatment.

  40. I understand what your saying but you say wait a week wait another week then take pics leave neg reviews but all this time the animal suffers so it's a tuff call in my opinion

  41. I love animals like hamstes, gerbils,etc. Recently, I now refuse to go to Petsmart out of anxiety because I bought a bag of bedding from there, it was the same brand and bedding type I had used Basil's entire life, but she began balding. I was able to recognize it early because it had happened to Munchkie when I tried to give him some food he had a reaction to. I also went to Petco and saw a robo hamster with a wound on her nose. Nothing in the cage showed signs of a fight and she was acting perfectly normal. No blood and it wasn't scabbed. I feel I should have done more for her but my parents dragged me out of the store because I had been roaming for an hour T-T I do love hamsters and I want to get more in the future, but if I want a robo im gonna need more toys and I want to add a second level to Basil's cage. Munchkie passed away November 19th, 2019 because the pet store gave my sisters, who I got him from because my nephew got bored, told them the wrong age. He wasnt sick, cold, starving or dehydrated. He was always a very calm and kind hamster and he was very happy. Basil is nearly 2 years old. I love her to pieces but she is definetely showing her age now. If my mum wasnt petrified of snakes, I would get one for sure.

  42. A friend and I were at Petco the other day and discovered the Six-Lined Racerunner they had for sale had died (not sure how long it had been at that point but it was in full rigor). We let an employee know, she came rushing over and was shocked cause according to her they had just received it two days prior. She thanked us and let us know she would file an incident report and removed it from the enclosure.

  43. Would you allow someone with a neglected dog go for a week or would you call animal control? Oh and go on Google and that will definitely help that animal. Keep up the great work.

  44. I live near a Petco and a Petsmart. We used to go to the Petsmart, but we don’t anymore. A lot of their Reptiles such as the ball pythons ( Classic, And Fancy type ) were housed in small enclosures, had horrible humidity, and the wrong bedding. I looked into one and saw a banana ball python looking so hecking sad… I think that was one of the reasons we quit going there, but now we go to Petco. They took better care of their animals and I noticed. One of the people there breeder ball pythons and we bought my snake from him.

  45. I was at a pet smart once and one baby bearded dragon was obviously dying. I told the staff but when they came over it had already died and they removed it from the enclosure.

  46. Was hoping you were going to touch on Spider Morphs. There was a big row on Reddit the other day on whether it is ok to buy spider morph to give it a better life. I had never hear of them before that thread. And was curious as to why this genetic disorder(?) happened.

  47. Emily please do an information video about chameleons my pet chameleon is getting really hard to take care of she's getting really cranky for no reason

  48. I oncemsaw a few snake on sale in a mall and they dont give them a heating mat or a basking light no humidity box a small water bowl, a too small enclosure you would thought it was just for a while but no i came back a few months later and nope they were still there, they alsko sell turtles they were petty bjg in a small glass box ( its edges were litterally touching the turtle)

  49. I work at one of the big stores and if we have a ball python that wont eat, which happens often, we can take them to a vet so the vet can feed them.

  50. I actually visited a Petco recently. I was bored and wanted to see if they treat their animals as bad as I heard about in a lot of places. I decided to check out their reptiles first. They had two ball pythons in one tiny enclosure, no real substrate, those useless circle thermostats, one small hide, and they were both really skinny (their spines were showing, and they had loose skin on the sides). I pointed this out to my cousin who was with me but we couldn't do anything about it. They also had a ton of rats and (in a separate cage) mice in a tank/cage with only one place for them to hide under.
    A few weeks later I took my Mom to a PetSmart to see if theirs was as bad as Petco's, especially since they were both in the same town. I also read on a reptile Amino that one approach to convincing your parent to allow reptiles is to show them in a harmless setting, such as a pet store. The PetSmart was very well maintained and the animals had MUCH better conditions. They still used those thermostats and the enclosures were pretty small but the animals appeared healthy. A sales associate actually let me handle one of the baby beardies they were selling, although she didn't allow me to handle anything else because she was worried I would be bit. She mentioned that the cameleon was a bit stressed but they couldn't quite figure out why. I suppose it depends on the pet store when it comes to care but I just felt so bad for the poor animals at that Petco. At least at the PetSmart they were trying to be better

  51. I was at a petco and they had like 7 chameleons or iguanas (ik theres a huge difference but i honestly cant remember) in the same tiny tank. It pissed me off throughly and it makes me sick that people think thats okay

  52. I too also worked at the petsmart. Generally we appreciated when our customers would politely notify us. We would than take the animal straight over to our in store vet clinic to be checked out. We may not be experts on every specific animal in the store. For example I knew more about reptiles than I knew about hamsters. But I would go find another employee or my manager who was more knowledgeable on a situation to further my own knowledge. I was constantly learning more. Yet I also learned how uneducated some people were and the stupid questions that we were asked.

  53. My friend's bearded dragon had a weird stuck peice of unshed skin the needed to be shed but no one knew about it. He was being all weird and the vet said it had pretty much made him unable to use his back legs and he was in lots of pain. They also said it wasn't fixable so they had to put him down ☹️

  54. Do you know how they ship reptiles? The big businesses, such as Petsmart, buy reptiles and keep them in tiny containers. No food, no water, almost all of them die. Some employees are concerned about the reptiles’ health and reports it to the store owner.

    When they tell them, the look in the store owner’s eyes are literally like

    “So what? If they die, I’ll just buy more.”

  55. Love this Emily. There's been a few times where I've gone to my local PetSmarts and PetCos and all I had to do was mention something to a sales associate, and was happily surprised when correct action was made. Once at PetCo I saw this BEAUTIFUL pinstripe ball python. The enclosure was in good condition, and at first glance, so was the snake. So I asked if I could hold it. That's when I was able to see mites on it. The sales associate, whom I found out was familiar with reptiles, immediately ran to the back with gloves and a container and removed the snake from the display set up. A few days later I went back, and almost all the reptiles were removed from display. I found an employee and asked where their snakes had gone and he said they were in the back til they weren't sick anymore. I'm guessing in quarantine for the mites.
    Another time at that same PetCo location I was looking at their leopard geckos. An employee came over, asking if I was interested in looking at them, and I told them (perhaps a little passive aggressively) that I was actually wondering why they didn't have a humid hide. The employee looked and kinda fumbled for words for a minute, but then said she would notify someone to make sure one was put in there. And actually by the time I was going to the checkout counter, I saw a different employee redoing the geckos set up.
    Recently I went to a local PetSmart and was looking at their reptiles. An employee came over asking if needed assistance, and I told her I was window shopping for a ball python (which, I kind of was). What was great was they had 2 separate enclosures for the 2 bp's that they had and the set up was fairly correct. I held one snake, and we marveled at the patterning and color. She was also familiar with reptiles and we were musing over what morph the snakes might be. At first glance they looked like normal morphs, but with a little something mixed in. After we were done looking at the first snake she had me sanitize my hands before handling the 2nd. Almost immediately we saw a tick attached to its face. She said the snakes had arrived just that morning and she hadn't been able to get a good look at them yet. So she got a cart, removed the tick with tweezers, and drowned it in a cleaning solution. We then looked over both snakes more thoroughly to make sure there were no more.
    Honestly the worst thing I think I've seen wrong at big chain stores, other than the mites, was overcrowding with leopard geckos and beardies. But as you said, it's only temporary, and those species tend to get bought quickly. Saw once at PetSmart they went from 7 leopard gecko babies on display to 2 in just 1 week.

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