It's important to understand that not all breeders are equal and therefore not all breeders are reputable/ethical. There are key things that make a breeder reputable/ethical for ANY species! Here are the questions you should ask/consider when looking for an animal breeder in order to avoid animal mill and backyard breeders:
- How are the animals raised (cage type, number of animals per cage, cleanliness of cages)? Photos of the set up are important before choosing someone as your breeder. If a breeder has no photos available, it's important to request them. Choose a breeder who has large spacious cages, toys in the cage, and no overcrowding. If the breeder fails to provide photos, run. If the breeder has inadequate conditions, don't support their breeding practices.
- What do the animals come with (genetic health guarantee, illness guarantee, no breeding agreement, temperament guarantee)? A reputable breeder will provide a health guarantee in contract as well as a no breeding agreement to prevent backyard breeding. A breeder who does not provide anything in contract may not stand behind the animals they produce nor care about buyers breeding their animals.
- Does the breeder have an adoption screening application? Reputable breeders want to know about the person interested in their animals. Mill and backyard breeders do not care and will sell to anyone. Avoid a breeder who has no application questionnaire.
- Does the breeder have a professional website? Does their website include resources? Reputable breeders often provide their clients with a website to utilize. Bonus points if there are care resources provided!
- Does the breeder have a lot of client reviews? Reputable breeders will normally have a lot of high rating reviews to show they are a trustworthy and honest breeding practice. If the breeder has been breeding for a while, but lacks reviews or has poor reviews - they are likely not reputable.
- Where do their lines comes from? How long have they been breeding their lines? Reputable breeders will not pet place animals from pet store stock for many reasons. If the breeder's animals are not from other breeders, it's another huge red flag.
- How long has the breeder been breeding? If the answer is less than six months, they are not reputable just yet. It's a risk to get animals from a short term breeder who might not be in it for the long haul. Backyard breeders pop up and often dwindle away when they realize the work and dedication involved.
It's important to do your homework on the breeder you're interested in regardless of what species they breed. If you don't mind supporting a mill or backyard breeder, then that is entirely up to you, but reputable/ethical breeders will provide you with the best overall experience when acquiring your new companion(s) and you'll be supporting ethical breeding practices.