I've always said that by knowing a few tricks you could end up saving a lot of money, money that can be better put towards other things instead of spending it on overpriced merchandise at a pet store. Below are my best tips and suggestions on how to save a little money while still taking great care of your pet reptile (because this is still an expensive hobby!)
This is supplemental to this blog entry: Average Cost of Owning A Chameleon
And for things I cannot live without, regardless of money: My Favorite Reptile Products
#1. LOOK INTO ORDERING ONLINE
Always check places like Amazon.com, Ebay.com, or even your local classifieds (like Craigslist.com) for supplies before going to your local pet store. Often reptile supplies like cages and supplies will cost much less, even after shipping, than at a pet store. And people often sell gently used supplies for very little that you can disinfectant and use. Definitely disinfectant things like used cages and cage decor, so your pets don't pick up parasites or other undesirables.
#2. MANY SUPPLIES CAN BE PURCHASED AT A HOME IMPROVEMENT STORE
Instead of spending lots of money on certain projects, see if you can make them at home. For example, a water dripper at a pet store will retail for $10 or more, when you can make it at home for the price of a 1 gallon container of water or milk. Or any container that you can make tiny holes into with a needle. For my outdoor cages I use washed gallon jugs with several tiny needle holes on one side and a single air hole on the opposite side. A gallon will drip (depending on the number of holes and their size) for a long while, if not hours, and it costs about $3. Additionally, if you are a handy person you can look into building your own cages, either out of wood or PVC pipe and save money that way. As long as the chameleon's needs are met there is no reason you could not make your own cage if you are capable of doing so. You might be able to build a cage for half of what it costs to build a flimsy screen cage or a small glass terrarium. If you want to make an enclosed cage, acrylic plastic will be much cheaper than glass but look just as good.
#4. ORDER INSECTS IN BULK
Seriously, this will save you so much money! You might pay as much as 14-20 cents for a single cricket at a pet store (so a hundred crickets may cost you $14-20!) where as you can buy a bulk amount of crickets for much less. Typically, you can order 1,000 crickets for about $14 (much better, right?) and even with shipping you end up saving. Going to reptile shows will also get you a better deal, as you can save shipping and carry home as many boxes of crickets as you want. And a thousand crickets will last you a while, especially if you don't have very many reptiles. The only thing you need is a big plastic container to keep them in, provide fresh food and water, and you may have food for a month. You can save a lot of money every month by buying bugs in bulk. Also, look into ordering bugs you can breed at home, such as superworms and roaches. This will also save you a lot of money!
Read more about how to keep insects in your home properly here: Keeping Insects - Chameleon Food
#5. USE BRANCHES FROM OUTSIDE AND PLANTS FROM A SMALL NURSERY
This scares some people, but instead of spending lots of money on an expensive log at the pet store or yards of flimsy fake vines, cut branches from a tree. Stay away from sappy trees but live branches from most trees make excellent, FREE cage decor that are going to hold up very well to humidity and heat, provide stable, study perches, and feel much more natural. And they look SO much better in your cages. If using something from outside scares you, you can always disinfect them in the oven or by soaking them in a hot bath with some bleach, rinse, and let dry outside.
|These are live branches, cut from a tree outside. They still look phenomenal in my cages a |
year later, no mold, decay, or bugs. Great and better looking alternative to those expensive fake vines.
More to come!