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The Best Breeds of Snakes to Have as a Small Pet

Updated on September 30, 2010
 

The Best Snakes 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 than 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kingsnake. 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.
  • 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.

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  • profile image

    harambe 11 months ago

    i want a taylor swift one

  • profile image

    Jennifer Schober 17 months ago

    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.

  • profile image

    Shelbs21 2 years ago

    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.

  • pandula77 profile image

    pandula77 5 years ago from Norway

    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!!

  • profile image

    jessbrown 5 years ago

    great hub. ive got 2 cornsnakes an d an albino python she is called sunny !!!

  • CZCZCZ profile image

    CZCZCZ 5 years ago from Oregon

    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.

  • DemiMonde profile image

    Demi 5 years ago from Mobile, Alabama

    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 profile image

    PADDYBOY60 5 years ago from Centreville Michigan

    Very nice hub. Thanks.

  • profile image

    Patty87 5 years ago

    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 profile image

    emichael 6 years ago from New Orleans

    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?

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    smichael 6 years ago

    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 profile image

    emichael 6 years ago from New Orleans

    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...

  • profile image

    thomas22 6 years ago

    i want to get a snake but need a few names so i can research them any ideas??

  • profile image

    pokemontalk 6 years ago

    pokemon rock

  • boedz80 profile image

    boedz80 6 years ago from INDONESIA _ SINGAPORE

    I love snakes!

  • profile image

    fashion 6 years ago

    Great hub...

  • Obscure_Treasures profile image

    Obscure_Treasures 6 years ago from USA

    Awesome Hub......Jst loved it.Never knew snakes have so many breeds.Voted u up.good job

  • DRG Da Real Grinc profile image

    Felix J Hernandez 6 years ago from All over the USA

    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 profile image

    EmpressAwesome 6 years ago from Virginia

    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

  • profile image

    Ayeveryn 6 years ago

    I have a western hognose, they are , IMO , small

  • marimccants profile image

    marimccants 6 years ago

    Wow!Great points on this hub! I think I must have a pet snake.

  • philipandrews188 profile image

    philipandrews188 6 years ago

    That is scared you know, But I love snake if you train successful. Great HUb.

  • profile image

    hejay 6 years ago

    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.)

  • crystolite profile image

    Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

    I hate snakes. Anyway is good for those that like having it as Pet

  • TheSmurf profile image

    TheSmurf 6 years ago

    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.

  • profile image

    stiffy 6 years ago

    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 profile image

    Muktu 6 years ago

    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 profile image

    RoseGardenAdvice 7 years ago from San Francisco

    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 profile image

    bd160900 7 years ago from San Diego

    I'm a little scared of snakes but now might get one. great post

  • profile image

    Paul Alexander 7 years ago

    Very interesting, great hub!

  • profile image

    Ink 7 years ago

    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 profile image

    billydeakin 7 years ago

    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 ;)

  • profile image

    Jesus 7 years ago

    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??

  • GarnetBird profile image

    Gloria Siess 7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

    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.

  • profile image

    sam 7 years ago

    get a bci or ball python, i have both and theyre awesome.

  • profile image

    mike 7 years ago

    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?

  • profile image

    Cody 7 years ago

    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

  • profile image

    pets 8 years ago

    I must agree that the Sand Boas are great to own. If you are looking for a small enough snake these are perfect

  • silverwindintx profile image

    silverwindintx 8 years ago from Burnet, TX

    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 profile image

    TheHonestMan 8 years ago from Inland Empire, California

    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.

  • profile image

    brett delorme 8 years ago

    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 profile image

    Info Provider 8 years ago from St. Louis Mo.

    I love snakes so much i even breed there food https://hubpages.com/animals/Make-and-Save-Money-b...

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    michael losoya 8 years ago

    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

  • profile image

    Kharma 8 years ago

    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 profile image

    nicko guzman 8 years ago from Los Angeles,CA

    Garter snakes actually only grow 3 to 7 years if they were wild caught.Not much mention on temperment.Good hub.

  • profile image

    Cole 8 years ago

    Do you need to spray a ball python a lot? Do you need to feed your once a week?

  • profile image

    Trey 9 years ago

    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

  • Whitney05 profile image

    Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

    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.