I'm a San Francisco-based freelance writer and blogger with nearly ten years of writing experience behind me.
The Best Snake to Have as a Pet
People who are interested in getting a pet snake always have a few basic questions. The most important is which type of snake is going to be best for them. Following that come questions about how to take care of the new snake, what to feed it and what other things a new owner should know. The answer to all of those secondary questions can't be made until you've chosen a snake so you'll want to do that first.
There are many different snakes that are safe to have as pets. The decision about which one to get will depend on a few different factors. Before choosing a pet snake, take the following things into consideration:
- Size: Some people want small snakes that can stay in little terrariums. Others want big snakes that they can carry wrapped around their shoulders.
- Level of care: Different snakes have different diet and clean-up needs. If you don't have a lot of time to care for your snake, you'll want to get a low-maintenance breed. If you've got more interest in the total investment, there are nice snake breeds that require additional care.
- Typical age: Do you want to get a snake that's going to live for the next fifty years or are you interested in one that's going to last about two decades?
Once you've decided these basic things, you can figure out which is the best snake breed for you. Here are some of the most common snakes that new pet owners tend to like.
4 Best Pet Snakes
1. Garter Snake:
This is the kind of snake that you might see outside and trap to keep as a pet. It's not the most favored of pet snakes but it's ideal for people who are looking for a small snake. At around three feet in length, it's about two feet shorter than the other pet snakes you'll find on this list. If for some reason you need a little snake, this is probably the one you'd want to look into learning more about. Just realize that it's going to take a little bit of time to get used to caring for this pet.
2. Corn Snake:
This is the most common type of snake that people tend to get as pets if they don't know a whole lot about taking care of a snake. That's because this snake is considered to be the most domesticated of snakes. It's an easy breed to care for and it acclimates to a variety of climates so it's the kind of snake that you can get even if you only plan to learn the bare minimum about taking care of your snake. They average about five feet in length so they're long-ish but they're thin snakes so they aren't necessarily "big". They come in a wide range of colors so you should be able to find one that you like.
At first glance you might think that this snake is a vicious snake because the "king" in its name comes from the fact that this snake will eat other snakes in the wild. They'll also eat them in some cases if they're caged together so you only want to get one of these. Despite this tendency, the kingsnake is a good pet snake that is fairly easy to take care of. It's slightly longer than the corn snake but it's also a thin snake.
4. Ball Python:
Those people who are seeking to get a big fat snake probably have something like a python in mind. It's about five feet long but it's a fat snake and is the kind of animal you'd wrap around your shoulders and take for a walk. In terms of the fat snakes, the ball python is considered the best for people who are getting their first snake. The only downside to this snake is that it requires more attention than the other ones on the list because of a tendency to refuse food for long periods of time which causes it to get ill. This isn't a major problem but does mean you need to watch it during feeding time.
These snakes (which all usually live between 20 and 40 years) aren't by any means the only snakes that you can keep as pets. However, learning to care for a pet snake takes a little bit of effort in comparison with more common pets. Because of this, you should start off with one of these easy pet snakes and see how you like being a snake owner before moving on to the tougher species.
For more information, read
- Pet Snakes That You Don’t Need to Feed Rodents
- Best Pet Snake Species for Children and Beginners
- 250+ Best Funny, Ironic, and Unique Pet Snake Names
harambe on September 30, 2016:
i want a taylor swift one
Jennifer Schober on April 03, 2016:
A few corrections.
1. Snakes are not dogs, there are no "breeds". There are species.
2. It is not a good idea to trap a wild snake for a pet. Some can be difficult to feed and they can be more defensive than a captive bred snake. You also should check your local laws regarding trapping and keeping wild animals for permit needs and such.
3. There is no such thing as a domesticated snake. Being popular in captivity doesn't make a species more domesticated than others. You will never be able to put your snake in the yard and make it come to you. That is part of domestication. It will take off in search of food, shelter, or a mate.
4. ".....if you only plan to learn the bare minimum about taking care of your snake." If that quote applies to you, don't get a snake. Do not get any pet unless you are willing and able to do whatever necessary to care for it, including proper housing, feeding, and (if needed) vet care.
5. Kingsnakes are not the only species prone to cannibalism when housed with another. I don't know of any species other than MAYBE garter snakes that can be housed together. If you can only house one, you should only have one. Period.
6. What the bloody mother of pearl......why is this person going on and on about ball pythons being "fat" snakes?! They're really NOT that big/fat. Smh
7. Do not EVER "....wrap around your shoulders and take [it] for a walk." Not for any snake. They're not fashion accessories and frequent/extended periods of improper temps/humidity can and most likely will lead to refusal to feed and/or illness.
8. Ball pythons have a "tendency" to refuse to eat for extended periods because people have a "tendency" to provide incorrect husbandry (housing, temps, humidity, etc) for them. If your BP is in a tank with a hot spot of 80 and ambient temp in the mid-70s, it's not eating because your setup sucks for maintaining proper temps and your temps are way too low.
9. If you are a lazy pet owner, don't get a snake. If you want a pet that you can take out and about with you, don't get a snake. If you have issues with feeding whatever necessary to your snake (whether mice or rats, live or frozen/thawed), don't get one. If you don't have a reliable, legitimate reptile vet relatively local to you (they are rather uncommon and the average dog/cat/small mammal vet won't know proper care and keeping, much less how to treat issues/illnesses), don't get a snake.
Shelbs21 on September 15, 2015:
It is not okay to just trap wild snakes such as a garter snake. You need a special permit to have any wild animal. If caught wih any wild animal as a pet you could face big fines.
Dr Pandula from Norway on May 20, 2012:
I am not much of a snake lover but when I read this hub, I had the thought of having a pet snake even for few seconds!!
jessbrown on March 30, 2012:
great hub. ive got 2 cornsnakes an d an albino python she is called sunny !!!
CZCZCZ from Oregon on March 16, 2012:
This is an excellent hub wit a lot of great information for a potential snake owner, i always thought it would be fun to have a snake as a pet, just never done it yet, but maybe sometime in the future.
Demi from Mobile, Alabama on January 09, 2012:
Great hub; my son wanted one but I am so frightened of them. Thanks to you, I am at least willing to consider it and the best type of snake. Demi
PADDYBOY60 from Centreville Michigan on January 07, 2012:
Very nice hub. Thanks.
Patty87 on December 02, 2011:
We have a huge tank and been looking for some snakes. i never had one as a pet but just love them. also i have 3 small children age 4 and under. what's the best snake and very calm i can get and would like one that will get around 5 to 7 feet and not too fat. where i can care around with me. but i'm really concerned with its temperament around the kids. what do you sugest best? please help
emichael from New Orleans on August 23, 2011:
Good to know, thanks! I actually just found some dark colored aspen at the petstore that looks really nice. His first feeding will be thursday. Where I bought him from said they only feed their snakes live, so their not sure if he'll eat thawed mice. I'm going to give it a try though. From I've heard, Kings aren't so picky with their food. Is that what you find?
smichael on August 23, 2011:
Aspen is the best substrate for snakes. Sand is bad because your snake can accidently swallow it and get an impaction in its bowels. Also, the aspen is absorbant of urine and feces can be easily picked out. Plus, snakes love to burrow in the aspen. Hope this helps. I have both corns, kings, a milk snake and a ball python. They are all sweet but the ball python insists that I feed it a live mouse, she doesn't want thawed out dead ones. You need to take your snake out of the aspen to feed it. Put it in an empty plastic storage bin and dangle the pinkie from tongs in front of it's face. If you feed it while it is in the aspen some of it will get stuck to the wet pinkie and your snake will ingest it, which is not good for it.
emichael from New Orleans on August 22, 2011:
Hey, I just came across this article on google and got through the whole thing before realizing it was a hubpages article :)
I just bought my first snake. A desert king. It was between that and a ball python, but I went for the king since it is a thinner snake. Though if I get another, it will probably be a ball. I love the way they look and that they are slower moving. My king is feisty and quick! I love him though.
One question...what do you like for substrate? They gave me aspen at the pet store, which is fine, but I kind of want something a little finer. Maybe darker. Being a desert king, something like sand would be nice, though sand is messy. Any ideas? I've heard of coconut husk...
thomas22 on August 18, 2011:
i want to get a snake but need a few names so i can research them any ideas??
pokemontalk on August 14, 2011:
boedz80 from INDONESIA _ SINGAPORE on August 09, 2011:
I love snakes!
fashion on July 31, 2011:
Obscure_Treasures from USA on July 18, 2011:
Awesome Hub......Jst loved it.Never knew snakes have so many breeds.Voted u up.good job
Felix J Hernandez from All over the USA on July 17, 2011:
Thank you for the insight. Makes me want a snake and I'll have some knowledge as to which kind I can get and possibly maintain.
EmpressAwesome from Virginia on July 17, 2011:
I love snakes! Was thinking about getting a ball python-- I'm a picky eater too, so at least we'd have something in common ;P
Ayeveryn on July 16, 2011:
I have a western hognose, they are , IMO , small
marimccants on July 01, 2011:
Wow!Great points on this hub! I think I must have a pet snake.
philipandrews188 on May 10, 2011:
That is scared you know, But I love snake if you train successful. Great HUb.
hejay on March 05, 2011:
I am looking to buy my first snake and i was considering getting a corn snake, i was just wondering how much will it cost to get the whole lot ( inclosure etc.)
Emma from Houston TX on March 05, 2011:
I hate snakes. Anyway is good for those that like having it as Pet
TheSmurf on March 02, 2011:
My first snake was a lampropeltis mexicana, then i passed straight to a boa constrictor and a burmese python. snakes are great pets! in my opinion, best place to buy is Reptile's Day.
stiffy on February 08, 2011:
hey what's a great snake, that loves to be handled and grows up to around 8 to 10 feet. A type of boa prefferibly ?
Muktu on November 05, 2010:
Thanks for your work. It was interesting to me because my ex owned a little snake. It eneded up dying and one day I found she has put it in the freezer cuz she wanted to get it stuffed.
RoseGardenAdvice from San Francisco on August 15, 2010:
Have always liked carrying and draping snakes around my neck. But have never had pet snakes .. I guess I prefer them in the wild. But great hub ... if I ever succumb to the desire to have a snake at hand, I know which one to bring home. Thanks.
bd160900 from San Diego on July 17, 2010:
I'm a little scared of snakes but now might get one. great post
Paul Alexander on July 07, 2010:
Very interesting, great hub!
Ink on June 23, 2010:
i currently have a almost 2 yr old female burmese, shes absolutely amazing/sweet/ and i spend every second i can with her they grow quick tho and eat a lot and require a lot of time and attention to keep them even semi sweet past adolescence. Shes cureently in a 75 gallon tank tho shes still young and not real big yet but it wont last her too long maybe 2 yrs if that so if you get a burmese i adivse buying or making an escape proof cage for the snake asap after getting the snake cause they're also expensive to keep and the big cage is too. i also have a mating pair of ball pythons and a baby female red-tail boa and a full grown albino California king-snake my boys [the one ball python and the albino king-snake] are the attitude problems in my family oddly enough the females are super cuddly and sweet so far lol but they're still good pets.
billydeakin on June 20, 2010:
Nice hub. Glad you mentioned garter snakes, my first snake (oover 20 years ago now) was a red sided garter. Great little snake and easy to handle, but a real fussy eater.
I definitely agree with corns as a good first snake, ball pythons too. As already mentioned in another comment some of the boa species are also ideal - rosy boa, kenyan ground boa, rubber boa... even some of the smaller boa constrictor sub-species are suitable for a first snake but only for an adult who is confident and has really researched the subject and understands how to care for and handle a snake of that size.
Not sure where you got your longevity figures from though (20 - 40 years...) most of the species you mention would typically live around 20 years in captivity, 40 is rather excessive IMO. Nice hub though ;)
Jesus on May 17, 2010:
What about ribbon snake? I catch those a lot and they are real similar to garter snakes and tame easily but never kept one as a pet. Are they easy to take care of??
Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on April 26, 2010:
Check out my photos I took today of a baby Southern Pacific Rattler/not suitable as a pet, of course! Ha. Nice Hub on snakes.
sam on January 04, 2010:
get a bci or ball python, i have both and theyre awesome.
mike on December 26, 2009:
i am getting a snake and im thinking of getting a corn snake but im not sure what is the best snake if i want to handel it alot?
Cody on September 25, 2009:
I found a baby hognose bullsnake but i have never had a snake before and i was wondering if this would be a tame snake for me to have if i handle it a lot
pets on September 18, 2009:
I must agree that the Sand Boas are great to own. If you are looking for a small enough snake these are perfect
silverwindintx from Burnet, TX on September 17, 2009:
Nile monitor's can be quite nasty (I used to manage a pet store) and female Burmese Pythons can be quite aggressive as youngsters. they tend to grow out of it around 2-3 years of age. i knew an 11 foot albino female Burmese that was an absolute doll. I myself have 2 red-tail boas and these have always been my preference. My female is a Guayan Red-Tail and my male is a rare Peruvian/Columbian cross. They have were raised together since they were about 6 months old, when my friend purchased them. I kind of inherited them as a favor to her, as she couldn't take care of them anymore (due to family problems) and I have had snakes before. Red-Tails tend to be pretty laid back and calm. Bambi 9the female) is happy just stretching out on the back of our couch and chilling. But be warned - red-tails, especially females, can reach lengths of 14'-20'. They are fairly slow growing so it's pretty easy to keep up with making sure their enclosures are the right size for them.
TheHonestMan from Inland Empire, California on September 01, 2009:
Has anyone ever owned a Burmese python? I see them all the time when I go to my local reptile store and wonder what it would be like owning a 20 foot snake. I wouldn't mind one day owning a burmese python or a nile monitor.
brett delorme on August 06, 2009:
another great kind of snakes for a beginner are any kind of rat snake...except black rat snakes, they are very calm...the babies are occasionally jumpy... and there are very fun to hold, you can even put a baby on ur shoulder and it wont try 2 run, after about 2 times holding them they get used 2 you...there very good snakes
Info Provider from St. Louis Mo. on July 14, 2009:
I love snakes so much i even breed there food https://discover.hubpages.com/animals/Make-and-Sav...
michael losoya on July 02, 2009:
I love ball pythons, I own 7 of them, but they can be very picky eaters and it is obnoxious at times. Corn Snakes make great pets and are easy to care for, I owned one for a good while. Childrens (spotted) pythons are also very calm and make great pets. I hope that helps Kharma
Kharma on June 24, 2009:
hI. My mom has told me that she would talk to me about getting a snake on the off chance she does i want to know which snake is really good with matenence and is small?I would like to know .I might want a Ball Python Since their the best breed for beginners but she might think their to bug for me what's the second best small snake breed?
nicko guzman from Los Angeles,CA on April 10, 2009:
Garter snakes actually only grow 3 to 7 years if they were wild caught.Not much mention on temperment.Good hub.
Cole on January 11, 2009:
Do you need to spray a ball python a lot? Do you need to feed your once a week?
Trey on August 09, 2008:
Great advice!! Here is another great snake that is a doll to own.
Kenyan Sand Boa: These guy are GREAT. They dont get very big. Males about 15 inches and female about 2 feet they are a thick body snake.
a 10 gallon tank with a good lid can be used for males and a 20 long for females.
just need a under the tank heater on one side and a cool side for them with a small water bowl. They are a desert snake so they dont need high humity in their tanks. They like to burrow, so most people like aspen cause it makes good for tunnling. Some people like certin kinds of sand. I like the aspen its easy to keep clean and easy to find your snake LOL.
They take frozen/thawed mice. They are usually good eaters.
babies need to be fed every 5 days and adults once a week
They are very sweet natured and almost never bite ( all snakes can bit )
They enjoyed being handled and are slow moving. make sure to support the whole body for they arent good climbers. They really are a great pet to have especailly if the corn snake seems a little to fast for handling for some one who hasn't handle a snake before. ( I have a corn snake and I think they are a bit nippy even with lots of handling)
hope you could find this info usefull. I think the Sand Boa is the best snake to own if you want a slow and sweet snake!!!
Thanks for reading
Whitney from Georgia on April 09, 2008:
Great tips Kathryn. Don't forget milksnake. The 4 you mentioned and the milksnake are the best beginner snakes.
Don't forget the temperament. Some people want docile, laid-back snakes, whereas others want more spunky and aggressive snakes.
The Best Breeds of Snakes to Have as Pets - pets
There are many different types of pet snakes, but which ones are for beginners and make the best pets for everyone? Most experts recommend that you start out with small pet snakes and smaller less aggressive species, so that you get used to taking care of them and handling them properly. There are some snakes that do not make good pets at all, even for experienced handlers, and these are the larger constrictors and pythons which can get huge. There are many snakes which can be found on almost every list of the best types of pet snakes, and these are chosen for their temperament, their smaller size of approximately five or six feet long at maturity, and their ease of handling and care.
One of the top snakes to own can be pet corn snakes. This species can include a wide range of colors, and they are usually docile and easily tamed. These snakes very rarely bite, and then only when severely provoked. A list of the best types of pet snakes should also include the gopher snake. This snake has beautiful markings, and one of the best temperaments out of any snake. Ball pythons also make great pets, except in one area. These snakes can be somewhat finicky, and may or may not eat frozen and thawed for. Some of these snakes will only eat live food, and this can be inconvenient for some owners.
Before you go out and purchase pet snakes for sale on a whim it is important that you think about your decision, and do some research. You will need to determine which types of pet snakes are the right ones for you, your home, your time, and your financial situation. It can be costly to set up and keep a snake properly. There are a number of expenses and pet snake supplies that you will need to care for your pet, and these should be purchased and be ready when you bring your new snake home. A kingsnake can also make an excellent first pet for most people interested in owning a snake.
Best Pet Snakes For Beginners
I know it might be tempting to get a large snake, like a rock python, reticulated python, Burmese python, anaconda, etc. But as a beginner, we strongly recommend you avoid larger breeds. Instead stick to one of the tried and true beginner snakes.
The following breeds all make great pets for beginning snake owners, because they are smaller and much easier to care for.
- Corn snake
- Ball python
- California kingsnake
- Rosy boa
- Gopher snake
Corn snakes (Pantherophis guttata) are probably the most well-known and popular of these 5 breeds of snakes. Native to North America, there is very little not to like about corn snakes.
They don’t grow too big, so you can keep them in fairly small snake enclosures and they also have gorgeous color combinations and quite a docile disposition. While they will try to defend themselves when handled, a cat can do more damage than a corn snake! They are basically harmless.
Be sure to let your new snake settle for a few weeks and get it used to its routine before handling it too much. They usually tame quite quickly when they get used to you.
As corn snakes hatch at 8 to 12 inches long grow to about 4 – 5.5 feet in length, they are still small enough when mature to be handled with relative ease. They also have a lifespan of around 20 years and are reproductive until the age of 10 or 12. They are not venomous.
Housing Corn Snakes
Housing corn snakes is much easier than most other types. The babies can easily live in plastic vivariums the size of a large shoe box for the first few months. Adult corn snakes need an enclosure of at least 20 gallons, although bigger is better. We recommend 40 gallons or more.
It is very important to only house one corn snake (or any snake) to a snake enclosure, as they are not social animals and having another snake in the same enclosure causes them stress. Remember that the enclosure must be escape-proof, because snakes are quite the escape artists!
No special lighting or heating is required for corn snakes, but natural light will help it adjust its day and night cycles — but do avoid direct sunlight, because direct sunlight could raise their body temperature too much and actually kill them. Give them some nice accessories to keep them entertained. Climbing toys are always great.
Corn snakes eat appropriately-sized rodents, with some even eating the occasional lizard or frog. Hatchlings normally consume newborn mice. Adult snakes may also eat birds and bird eggs.
They do not recognize crickets as food, however. Don’t bother trying to offer your snake any. Most corn snakes will learn to eat previously frozen (but completely thawed) mice. Adults only need to be fed every 7 to 10 days.
The Ball Python (Python regius) is also a very popular choice for a pet snake thanks to its many morphs and shy demeanor. In fact, it and the corn snake are the two most popular pets. We compare the two directly here.
The ball python is native to Central and West Africa, so it does need some humidity in its enclosure. But not too much. We’ll cover that below.
Though not large (males grow to about 2 to 3 feet in length and females 3 to 5 feet in length), the ball python is heavy bodied. These snakes live a long time, with some surviving for more than 30 years in captivity. Make sure to take that into account when deciding whether to get one.
Snake enclosures for ball pythons need to be around 3 feet in length and a 30-gallon enclosure works well, though we always recommend going larger.
To keep the humidity up inside the enclosure, it’s important not to use a screen top for ball pythons. The water bowl should also be large enough for the snake to soak in.
The ball python is among the top five snakes that are perfect for beginners, because it thrives in captivity if well looked after. There are also a lot of beautiful morphs, like the stunning yellow banana ball python.
One enclosure accessory that is a must for a ball python is a good hide box — even a couple if the size of your enclosure allows it — because ball pythons are quite secretive creatures. You should also have a hot spot on one end of the enclosure and a cool spot on the other.
The ambient temperature in the enclosure should not fall below 75° Fahrenheit, and it is very important to have a thermometer with which to check these temperatures instead of winging it.
Humidity should be between 50 and 60 percent. Not only does this keep your snake comfortable, it will also help it shed properly.
Ball pythons are normally fed an appropriately-sized rodent once a week, starting out with rat pups and moving up in size as they grow.
Ball pythons can also eat thawed or pre-killed rodents, but you should not handle a ball python for a day after they have fed as this can lead to regurgitation.
These pythons may also stop eating for certain times of the year (for instance winter), but there is usually no need for worry.
When you do handle your ball python, don’t make sudden movements and give it time to learn who you are. As they are mostly shy and spend a lot of their time hiding, they need to learn not to fear you.
You should be relaxed when holding your python so as to give it time to settle. It’s also best to avoid handling the snake when it is time to feed it. Excessive movement around the snake enclosure — by humans or pets — must be avoided.
California kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula californiae) are very popular as beginner snakes, although they have been described as “nippy”. In the wild it is an opportunistic feeder who will eat even other snakes, though only small ones averaging 3 to 4 inches length.
The California kingsnake is not a bulky or heavy snake, unlike the ball python. Like the ball python, they tend to live a long time, often for over 20 years. The females remain fertile into their young teens.
Your California kingsnake can be housed in a 20-gallon enclosure with a screened top, a hide, and suitable substrate.
An under tank heater is necessary to help the snake thermoregulate, though no special lighting is required. Don’t use so-called “hot rocks” in the snake enclosure, because the centralized heat can cause burns.
Like with the ball python, the California kingsnake’s water bowl must be large enough for it to soak in. Remember to check that the snake enclosure is escape-proof, otherwise, they’ll definitely find a way out!
While the California version is the most popular, other kingsnakes make good pets too. A good example is the Mexican Black Kingsnake. As the name might suggest, it is completely black.
Kingsnakes Eat Other Snakes
Becuase California kingsnakes eat other snakes, they should be kept alone or in breeding groups of no more than one male and several females.
It is extremely important not to raise juvenile California kingsnakes together, as they could eat each other.
They should be adult-sized — more than 2 feet — before being introduced. Even then, always feed them separately.
Feed captive California kingsnakes rodents (usually mice), which can be either live or well-thawed. However, as live mice may inflict wounds, freshly-killed is a safer choice. Feed your California kingsnake once or twice a week.
The California kingsnake can still be quite wild by nature, even if bred in captivity. It may defecate or urinate on you when you pick it up because it is afraid, but with regular and gentle handling the snake should settle in and make a great pet.
Read our comparison between kingsnakes and corn snakes for help in deciding between these two breeds.
The Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata) may not be as popular as the corn snake, but is still a great choice and among the top pet snakes for beginners, because it is fairly docile, tolerates handling well, and also doesn’t grow too large.
The average size of the rosy boa is 2 to 3 feet in length, although they can grow to 4 feet. Like ball pythons and corn snakes, the rosy boas come in a variety of color patterns and morphs.
Rosy boas, given proper care, also live a long time: up to live 30 years or more in captivity. Make sure you take the long lifespan into account when considering getting a rosy boa.
Thanks to their smaller size, rosy boas can live well in snake enclosures between 10 and 20 gallons, depending on their adult size. The enclosure must definitely be escape-proof and screen tops are not really recommended for rosy boas.
The enclosure should also not have an abrasive top. This could cause nostril abrasion, because rosy boas are notorious for rubbing their snouts against enclosure surfaces to find a way to escape.
Special lighting is not necessary for rosy boas, although a thermal gradient is important. The temperature gradient should be 65° (Fahrenheit) at one end and 90° at the other.
Remember to measure the temperature with a reptile habitat thermostat or thermometer. The enclosure can be cooled to 55° in winter and then slowly heated again once spring arrives.
For feeding, rosy boas usually live on domesticated mice, starting on fuzzy mice (i.e. younger than 7 days old) when they are hatchlings and eating small adult mice when fully grown. Rosy boas need only be fed every one to two weeks during summer, spring, and fall.
The Gopher Snake (Pituophis spp.) are also native to North America and are nonvenomous, ground-dwelling constrictors. They are hardy snakes and have minimal requirements when kept as a pet — which makes them one of the best pet snakes for beginners. They are bold and it’s their curiosity that makes them popular.
Gopher snake hatchlings are already a foot in length, with adults being between four and five feet generally, although some may grow to six feet. The enclosure for adult gopher snakes should be between 20 and 30 gallons, and ideally 40 gallons or more.
Larger snakes do best in enclosures that are at least four feet in length. Gopher snakes are very active and that is why they need a bit more space than other, similar-sized snakes. They are also quite the escape artist and need to have secure enclosures.
Like the other snakes on this list, the gopher snake doesn’t need any special lighting, but the amount of light they receive may affect their feeding and breeding responses.
You should use a heating pad to create a warmer area in the enclosure, ensuring that the snake can regulate its body temperature. Their water dish should be large enough for them to soak in. However, they do not require extra humidity in their enclosure.
Feeding Your Gopher Snake
When feeding your gopher snake, you should be careful not to overfeed, as they have quite voracious appetites and will eat almost anything. Food should be offered only once a week.
Hatchlings will start with mice, but adult snakes will most likely feed on rats. As live rodents may injure the snake, freshly killed or well-thawed rodents are the best choice and most gophers do not hesitate to eat these.
Gopher snakes are active during the day and love to explore their enclosures. Most are docile and can be handled easily. If they do not like to be handled, they will let you know thanks to their epiglottal keel (a throat flap that vibrates upon exhalation).
They will also start to rattle their tail against the ground — hoping that you will mistake them for a rattlesnake. Regular handling, however, calms most snakes when given time. Gopher snakes learn to trust people over time and aren’t shy about exploring the world, making them one of the most engaging pet snakes!
What are the Most Friendly Snakes?
Let’s take a look at the 5 friendliest snake breeds. Any of these could make an ideal pet for a family of snake enthusiasts.
Gartner snakes are docile by nature, making great pets for children. They are smaller than many snake breeds, reaching 16 to 36 inches in length. This means they can often live in a 20-gallon terrarium when fully grown.
The more you handle a garter snake, the friendlier it’ll become. They generally stay on the floor of their habitat and are easy to feed, although feeding baby garter snakes requires more practice.
Here’s our full guide to garter snake care.
Corn snakes are hugely popular pet among enthusiasts. This is partly due to their striking and colorful appearance, and partly their personality.
A corn snake tends to be curious and inquisitive, making them adorable to watch in their terrarium.
Baby corn snakes may nip until they learn to calm their aggression. This will not take long, however, and you don’t need to worry. These hatchlings have tiny teeth and a non-venomous bite.
Some corn snakes grow as large as six feet, and they love to climb. You may find that a corn snake gets unusually quiet during the winter, though. Like all snakes, they’re cold-blooded and don’t enjoy cold climates.
Here’s our full guide to corn snake care.
A California kingsnake may not be ideal for first-time snake owners. If you have the experience to handle a slightly more tempestuous snake, however, they can be tamed. Expect the snake to grow to around four feet as standard, but they could reach six feet.
This snake is named because it has a voracious appetite, and even eats other snakes in the wild. This means that you will rarely need to worry about a kingsnake being off its food.
You will have to be patient when teaching a California kingsnake to be a pet. They think everything is food, and these snakes will escape their terrarium if given half a chance. This means that, if you have other pets in the home, you may wish to avoid this species.
Do not let any of this put you off the kingsnake as a pet, however. Given time, these snakes will become tame and hugely entertaining.
Here’s our full guide to California kingsnake care.
The ball python is the most popular pet snake in the United States. This is for a good reason: these snakes are friendly, docile, and a lot of fun.
A ball python will crawl all over the enclosure so it will provide plenty of entertainment. They are nocturnal snakes, but can and do adjust to the human time schedule.
The only other note of caution for a ball python is its dietary habits. These snakes can be fussy eaters, and sometimes go for months without feeding. This may unnerve a first-time snake owner.
Western Hognose Snake
If you are looking for a unique snake to keep as a pet, look no further. The Western hognose is a fascinating snake, exceptional in both appearance and personality.
These snakes are smaller than most breeds, with their size maxing out at around four feet, often less. They also have a snout at the tip of their head, hence the name.
They love to burrow and hide in their environment, and they are arguably the most docile breed of snake of all.
The Western hognose is also verbal. They are fearful and will attempt to scare off predators by hissing, puffing, and spreading.
If a Western hognose does attack, it will rarely open its mouth, let alone bite. A Western hognose is more likely to flee a predator, before rolling over and playing dead. This makes them very entertaining and fun.
What is the Most Docile Snake?
Any of the snake breeds that we have listed are docile and family-friendly. Perhaps the ball python and Western hognose are the most passive.
Naturally, any snake is capable of aggression. Any animal is capable of aggression if frightened or stressed. With patience and regular handling, however, you can tame any of these breeds.
What are the Cutest Pet Snakes?
This is difficult to answer, as cuteness is in the eye of the beholder. Any of the friendly breeds that we have profiled qualify as cute for different reasons.
The Hognose, for example, has big round eyes and a unique snout. Corn snakes and California kingsnakes come in a variety of beautiful colors. Ball pythons get their name from their habit of curling up in a ball, which can be adorable. Garter snakes are cute and small.
Friendly Snakes as Pets
If you have a tame snake, it’ll make a good pet. However, certain limitations come with making a snake a pet.
Remember that you cannot make a snake behave in whatever way you please. If you want a snake that you can play with, but your pet is not responsive, do not force it.
You must also treat snakes with respect. Young children may want to use a pet snake to scare their friends. Ensure they understand that a pet snake is a living creature, not a toy.
Finally, remember that we are much bigger than our pets. Humans may be afraid of snakes, but snakes are much more afraid of humans.
Do not do anything that will cause your pet snake undue stress. This also includes not making too much noise or handling a snake unexpectedly.
How to Make Snakes Friendly
When you first bring a snake home, they are going to be nervous. You will need to gain your snake’s trust gradually.
When you first bring your snake home, don’t physically interact with it at all. Set up its terrarium, and let it get to grips with its new surroundings.
Wait at least a week before attempting to touch your snake. During this time, sit outside its terrarium for at least an hour a day. This will help your snake to recognize your scent.
After a week or so, move a few things around your snake’s terrarium while they are awake to see this. Maybe introduce some new, fun rocks or logs.
Do not touch them throughout this process. You are showing your snake that you are taking care of them and not a threat. Touching before they are ready could still frighten them.
By now, you should have started to gain your snake’s trust. You can now start trying to touch them.
Wash your hands thoroughly. Snakes don’t have great eyesight, but they do have an excellent sense of smell. Even the weakest aroma of prey food might lead to them biting.
Start by lifting its tail, and running your fingers down its back. Move the snake around the terrarium gently. Do this for a few days before attempting to pick it up. If it seems uncomfortable, stop and try another time.
General Tips for Taming a Snake
Here are some tips for building a friendly relationship with your pet snake:
- Be patient and understanding. A snake may behave aggressively when you first try to handle it. This doesn’t mean they are not trainable. They’re just scared.
- Handle your snake regularly. If your snake only sees you at feeding time, it’ll assume everything in its terrarium is food.
- Never restrain a snake’s head. This will make it think that you have ill intent. When scared, a snake will act aggressively.
- Respect the limits of your snake’s patience. If it is visibly uncomfortable and afraid, leave your snake alone for a while. You cannot hurry the process of making a snake into a family pet.
Make sure that its terrarium is the right size, and has the ideal substrate. The more relaxed your pet snake feels, the happier it will be as a pet.
Do Pet Snakes Feel Affection?
If you need unconditional affection, you should get a dog. Likewise, if you are looking for a pet that will lie still in your lap, maybe a cat is advisable.
A snake is not genetically hardwired to feel love or affection. Like all reptiles, snakes are concerned with survival. This means that they focus almost entirely on staying warm, feeding, and hiding when necessary.
Your snake will eventually recognize your scent. Your snake may even come to enjoy the contact. Being cold-blooded, a snake may find your hands warming and pleasant against its scales.
You should always purchase your snake from a pet store or a reputable, licensed breeder. Discuss your circumstances with an expert, and agree together which breed will suit you best.
Things to Consider Before Choosing a Snake as a Pet
- When choosing a snake as a pet, realize you are making a long-term commitment because many species can be expected to live over 20 years.
- You must be willing to feed prey animals to your snake (though previously frozen, pre-killed prey is the safest choice) and you will probably have to devote some freezer space to frozen prey items (i.e., rodents).
- Snakes are very good escape artists, so you will need to make sure you have an escape-proof enclosure. Snakes are persistent about finding and squeezing through any small gaps.
- As beautiful as they are, large constricting snakes and venomous snakes are not recommended as pets due to their safety concerns.
- Get a captive bred snake from a reputable breeder, if at all possible. Wild caught snakes tend to be more stressed and prone to parasites and disease, as well as being more difficult to tame.