Most people who get a herp, whether it's a frog, lizard, or snake, usually find that they can't stop at just one. They get another and another and another until they have their own little reptile menagerie. Our little zoos cost money though. Here are some ways I've found that you can save!
First, a couple of tips that apply to everything:
#1 Keep an eye out for closing pet stores, hardware stores, and computer/office stores. You can get incredible deals on supplies, including industrial shelving (great for holding multiple tanks).
#2 Search around. Compare some prices before making your final decision.
#3 Tell people about what you do. Seems like it only takes a little bit before people come to you with unwanted animals, supplies, and anything reptile or even just plain animal related! You'd be surprised what a slight mention can get you.
#4 Never trust a pet store clerk. I can't stress this enough. Not only will they tell you to buy things you don't neccesarily need, but they may tell you to buy things that can actually be VERY harmful to your pets.
Auariums, Terrariums, and Tanks
Especially when you're a breeder, you'll need lots of tanks. These can add up quickly especially if you're buying from a chain pet store. Even local shops can be costly, sometimes even moreso since they're trying to compete with the big businesses.
As a breeder, craigslist has become a close friend! At craigslist.com people are almost always getting rid of tanks - some in really really good condition just because they had an unsuccessful aquarium and/or got sick of it. It's not odd to find a 50 gallon breeder tank at a dollar a gallon and sometimes you can even get tanks for free!
You can also post wanted ads on craigslist, saying you're a breeder in need of some old aquariums. People will often readily respond saying you can come pick up their old tanks. They'd be happy to have them put to good use and they're just taking up space in their basement or garage.
If you are a member of your local Herpetological Society (most big cities have them) you may be able to put an ad in their monthly newsletter for free or for a very small price.
Tell friends and families you'd like tank donations. Seems like nearly everyone has some old tank sitting around.
Again, place an ad on and search cragslist, but also...
See if you have a local farm/garden/hardware store that sells chicken feed and the like. You may be able to find a good deal on a poultry incubator that could easily be converted to be suitable for reptiles.
Hardware stores sell fixtures that will work exactly the same with your UV and heat lamps. And they'll cost less! Try Ace Hardware, Lowe's, or Home Depot.
If you can, you should always adopt before you buy from a store or a breeder. If you can save a neglected or abused animal, why not? They really do need you.
Look on craigslist (or post a wanted ad) for reptiles put up for adoption. Bearded dragons, iguanas, water dragons and leopard geckos are very common. You may even see crested geckos, tokay geckos, and others up for adoption from time to time. The prices will usually be lower than at the pet stores and the keeper will often give them to you with the setup as well. Not only is it a good thing to do, but it's almost always cheaper (unless the pet needs extra help from being abused and neglected).
Look on Petfinder.com. Iguanas are very common here and you may be able to find just what you're looking for.
Place an ad in your local herpetological society's newlestter.
Search for local reptile rescues in your area. Your local Herpetological Society may even have reptiles they are trying to place in new homes.
Pet stores will sell stands and shelving specificly for tanks, but industrial shelving can hold several tanks of large weights. Check out closing stores for their sale shelving. Look at places like Offic Max and Office Depot for good deals. You may even find good prices on some industrial shelves at Target, K-mart, or Walmart. They usually come in black and silver, but you may find other colors as well.
Hardware stores sell thermometers that will work exactly the same as the ones at the pet stores, probably even better. And they'll cost less! Try Ace Hardware, Lowe's, or Home Depot. You can even get ones that will tell you the humidty AND the temperature built in one.