Best Snakes For Pets


Snakes are incredible creatures. They’re beautiful, albeit mesmerizing, and make for gentle and quiet companions. If you want to become a snake owner, the range of breeds available is probably intimidating! With so many different varieties, it can be hard to choose the right one.

 

This guide will outline the 8 best snakes for pets, especially for beginners. We’ll discuss common breeds and what you can expect from characteristics and special care. Read on below to learn about these marvelous creatures and find the perfect pet for you!

 

Having a snake as a pet

 

Not everyone will enjoy the constant company of a serpent. Yet, many folks love to keep snakes and make wonderful doting owners. They’re great for beginners because they are typically very easy to care for. 

 

Snakes make excellent beginner pets because:

  • They are low maintenance and inexpensive to care for
  • They take up little space and make no noise
  • They won’t leave a mess
  • They are incredible to watch

 

If you’ve decided that a snake is the right pet for you, the next decision is, which snake should you get! 

 

The snake family is a large and robust classification, containing over 3,000 different species. Seven percent of those species are poisonous and would make a poor choice of pet. 

 

There are a set of common breeds that are used for pets. It’s best to opt for a captive-bred snake versus a wild-caught one for a few different reasons. 

 

Wild-caught snakes are often:

  • More aggressive and less docile
  • May carry excess bacteria 
  • It Will likely be difficult to feed unless you only use live prey

 

Things to consider when choosing a snake pet

 

Know what you’re getting into! A snake in captivity can live for many decades. Make sure you’re willing to make that commitment. And for that length of time, you’ll need to provide a safe and spacious enclosure for your serpent pal. 

 

Generally, you will provide a large glass enclosure without fittings specific to the needs of your snake. It’s up to you to pay attention to what your snake needs. Set them up with a great tank to start, and continue observing them identifying any changes that need to be made. 

 

You’ll be feeding your pet frozen or live prey and cleaning the tank regularly. It’s important to be aware of the responsibilities of snake-ownership before embarking on this pet journey. 

 

Now, in choosing the specific snake breed that will fit you best, consider the following things:

  • How much will you be handling your snake?
  • What kind of enclosure do you have room for?
  • How small or big of a snake are you looking for?
  • What’s the most important thing to you – the temperament of the snake or the visual display?

 

If you plan on enjoying your snake’s company like a little pal and holding and handling them whenever you can, you will certainly benefit from choosing a more docile breed. Likewise, if you are looking for a snake to make a good display pet, you’ll have a good amount of choices in pretty snakes to choose from, docile or nippy. 

 

Best pet snakes

 

There is a reason that this class of snakes is most commonly kept as pets! Not only will they be easier to find from a reptile or pet shop, but they’ll also be easier to care for. And unless you are a budding Herpetologist, that’s exactly what you want. 

 

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If you’re a beginner to the snake-owning world, there are some classes of snakes that are best left to the professional keepers. The below snakes including venomous snakes, large constrictors, and either difficult to care for or dangerous to own. 

 

  • Anacondas
  • Reticulated pythons
  • Boa constrictors
  • Water snakes
  • Green snakes
  • Burmese pythons

 

Large constricting snakes require very spacious enclosures and must be fed large rodents. This makes them far more difficult to care for and much more work. 

 

Let’s discuss each of our top 8 best snakes for pets in more detail. We’ll discuss distinguishing features, key information, and best habitat preparation. 

 

Corn Snake

The corn snake is an incredibly common house pet. They are low key and docile and easy to care for. With a max adult length of 6 feet, these are moderately sized snakes. 

 

Though commonly mistaken for copperheads, these snakes do differ from their venomous brothers. Their checkered belly is iconic to the breed and their coloring is typically light orange or reddish-brown, with square blotches along their backs. 

 

They love to spend time hiding underground or in hollow objects, yet are also very good climbers. These are behaviors to keep in mind when preparing their tank habitats. 

 

Be sure to include in the habitat: 

  • Climbing foliage
  • Hideaway spots
  • Plants

 

Black Rat Snake

Black rat snakes make very common pets due to their low maintenance needs. In the wild, they are found in central North America, are on the smaller size, and tend to be quite shy. With regular coaxing, they can tolerate handling. 

 

These snakes are a great choice for beginners, as they are easy to care for and mild-tempered. Though they will tolerate a simple tank setup, they enjoy climbing and will thrive in a well-stocked environment. 

 

Be sure to include in the habitat:

  • Climbing foliage
  • Very secure enclosure
  • Large soaking dish

 

Milk Snake

These little snakes are certainly lookers. They are a kind of King Snake and very popular among beginner snake owners. Their bright coloring is very similar to the venomous coral snake. They typically dwell in forested areas with rocky outcroppings and keep to the ground for travel. 

 

Milk Snakes are slow-moving reptiles and like to remain hidden and keep to themselves. If frightened, they will strike, but they are not venomous and the bite doesn’t hurt. Though they are a bit shyer than other snakes, they are docile and easy to handle. 

 

Be sure to include in the habitat:

  • Hideaway place
  • Heat source

 

Garter Snake

Incredibly common in many backyards and gardens is the garter snake. They live in a wide variety of habitats all across North America. These snakes do have a mild venom, but it’s virtually harmless to humans. And they do not regularly bite, as they are quite docile. 

 

Garter snakes are very active and love to slither around on the ground and occasionally climb. They’re fast and quick as amphibians tend to be their main source of prey in the wild. They like moist environments and grow quickly. 

 

Be sure to include in the habitat:

  • Lots of floor space
  • Climbing structure
  • Water dish

 

Rosy Boa

Sweetly named for the pink bellies of boas from the Southern California region, rosy boas come in a wide variety of colors. What they all do have in common is three longitudinal stripes down the body.

 

These snakes stay relatively small and tolerate handling quite well. Hailing from the southwestern United States, they enjoy hiding under rocks and thrive in a simple surrounding. They are docile and don’t require much in the way of care. 

 

Be sure to include in the habitat:

  • Simple environments
  • A very secure enclosure
  • Hideaway place

 

Gopher Snake

You might’ve seen one of these in the wild growing up in North America. They’re very common to see in nature and make great house pets as well. That is, as long as you’re able to outwit them.

 

Gopher snakes are curious and love to investigate all corners of their enclosure. For this reason, they tend to escape if their tank is not very secure. As a very active ground-dwelling snake, they will want to slither around floor space and burrow. 

 

Be sure to include in the habitat:

  • A very secure enclosure
  • Lots of floor space
  • Loose particle bedding to allow for burrowing

 

Ball Python  

One of the most common snakes to keep as a pet, the ball python is a docile and gentle creature. They tolerate handling very well and are quite friendly. Obtaining their name from a defining behavior, ball pythons tend to curl themselves up into a tight ball when frightened. 

 

They typically reside in the savannah and grasslands and like to rest underground. Though ball pythons are nice snakes to have as pets, they are notorious for being picky eaters. It’s not uncommon for them to go a couple of months without feeding. 

 

Be sure to include in the habitat:

  • Hideaway spot
  • Aquarium air stone in the water bowl
  • Under-tank heating pads

 

California Kingsnake

Another commonly found variety in the wild, the California kingsnake is native to many regions in North America. They prefer dry climates and natural light. Among the many varieties of kingsnakes, the California Kingsnake is the most common pet. 

 

Though they are very common pets to find, these snakes tend to be a bit more nervous than more docile breeds. They are highly adaptable, as their natural range covers many regions. 

 

Be sure to include in the habitat:

  • Heating pad
  • Hideaway spot
  • Soaking bowl
  • Dry cage

 

Care for your pet snake

Taking care of your pet snake may be easy, but you’ll still have to maintain regular and consistent tending. Read below for some highlights about caring for your snake. 

 

Feed it prey

Make sure you are feeding the right-sized prey to your snake. They will swallow it whole, instead of chewing it, so it’s key to get the right size to avoid feeding difficulties. Use this rule when shopping for prey:

 

Feed snakes prey the size of the width of the largest part of the snake’s body.

 

Use frozen prey and thaw it to room temperature, and don’t try to heat it on your own. Never use the same utensils or space to prepare your snake’s food. Keep a dedicated cutting board or plate and utensil set to avoid contamination of your surfaces. 

 

Shedding

All snakes will regularly shed their skin. During this time, their body color will dull and their eyes will turn a milky grey. This process can take a few days and your snake might be a bit cranky and not want to eat or be handled. 

 

The skin should be shed in one piece and the fresh skin should appear healthy. Don’t try to help your snake with the shedding process, they don’t need it! Trust that your snake knows what to do and if you notice anything concerning, contact your reptile vet.

 

Habitat

The right habitat is very important when keeping a snake as a pet. This environment will provide your snake with a sense of security. It should be clean and uncluttered, allowing for plenty of space to move about. 

 

Habitat cleaning 

It is essential to thoroughly clean the habitat of your snake at least once a week. You’ll want to use a 3% bleach solution and rinse completely. Trash the old substrate and replace it with fresh material. 

 

And here’s a tip: make sure you keep your snake in a safe and secure enclosure while cleaning their main tank. You don’t want them escaping and sneaking off somewhere. 

 

Housing more than one snake at a time

You can typically keep two snakes of the same species in the same tank without an issue. It’s not advised to mix snake species in a tank. This can cause aggression, stress, anxiety, and issues for both of your snake pets. Not to mention, one might eat the other and that doesn’t make anyone happy.

 

Most snakes are solitary creatures and do not need the company of another snake to be fulfilled. Don’t feel the need to provide your snake with another reptile companion. More than likely, they’re perfectly content to be alone. 

 

Tank size

The bigger the better. A pet snake is likely to use every inch of space you give him. You’ll also need to size up the tank as your snake grows. Stick to these general rules in choosing the best size enclosure for your pet snake:

 

  • If the snake slithers around the perimeter of the cage and covers over 2/3 of the distance, you need to size up your tank. 
  • The diagonal length of the tank should be at least as long as your snake. 

 

Tank security

As mentioned in the snake descriptions above, snakes are very curious and cunning! They love the explore their surroundings, and will easily find any weak points in a tank’s security. Keen to investigate an escape, if you don’t ensure your tank is very secure, your snake will slither right through. 

 

Tank details

Each breed of a snake will require slightly different needs, from humidity to substrate, to climbing foliage, and more. Be sure that you are providing your snake with the perfect environment for them. Keep it clean, size up when you need to, and provide the best for your little snake pet. 

 

Snakes live a long time!

Are you prepared to have this pet for the next 30 years? That’s the commitment you’re making when you take on a snake as a pet. It’s not uncommon for well-cared-for snakes to live much longer than they would in the wild. 

 

If you don’t think you’re ready to take on a 30-year commitment, consider getting a snake with a shorter lifespan or get your snake-fix by volunteering at a local reptile sanctuary. 

 

Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned about the best snakes to have as a pet, you might have a good idea of which one is right for you. From the beautiful milk snake to the friendly ball python, the choice is yours!

 

Whichever snake you choose to bring home is likely to provide you with some fascinating observation and a quiet listener. Be sure to provide him with proper care and he will, in turn, be a good friend for decades to come. 

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