Are Snakes Good Pets for Beginners?
Do snakes make good pets for beginners? You bet they do!
Whenever someone mentions keeping a reptile as a pet, you can be sure that the majority of the time they’re referring to a snake. There is just nothing like them!
Snakes make great pets. They’re unusual, interesting, don’t take up too much space and are fascinating to take care of and watch grow!
Ball pythons, Corn snakes, and (believe it or not) boa constrictors make great pets for beginners!
Follow along as we discuss some of the most popular snakes found in the pet industry, talk about the pros and cons, and showcase our best snake picks that can make awesome pets for the right person!
Table of Contents
The Best Pet Snakes
Hands down the corn snake is our top pick for best beginner snake!
They are docile, readily available in a myriad of colors and patterns, are good eaters, and are relatively easy to care for!
What’s not to love about corn snakes?!
Corn snakes exhibit some of the best temperaments and their care requirements are relatively simple compared to many other snakes.
Corns are found in a dizzying array of colors and patterns and can be obtained at nearly every reptile expo, pet store, or at a breeder near you!
Before we get too far into our look at these three snakes, we want to stress some overall recommendations and tips for having a snake (any snake) as a pet.
Always Choose Captive Bred Animals
There really aren’t many good reasons to ever choose a wild-caught snake as a pet, especially because there are so many great reasons to choose a captive born animal.
This is definitely true for beginners.
Advantages of Captive Born Snakes
- Significantly reduces chance of parasites
- Minimizes acclimation and quarantine times
- Improved health and vitality of the snake
- Your breeder is a resource to answer questions and assist with problems
General Factors to Consider
- Female snakes are oftentimes larger than the (smaller/shorter) males
- Most snakes (and all discussed here) are carnivores, they eat rodents
- While snakes are super interesting, unique, and entertaining; they are not as affectionate or “loving” as a cat or dog. Handling your snake is fine, just don’t expect the same interaction as you would have with a puppy!
The 3 Best Snakes for Beginners
Our Best Pick: The Corn Snake
The Corn Snake, scientific name – pantherophis guttatus, is a slender-bodied snake from North America.
Corn snakes in captivity live, on average, 10-15 years with some individuals doubling that age! They are of medium size growing anywhere from 4 to 6 feet in length.
Corns ahve been captive bred for many, many generations giving us an incredible selection of color and pattern morphs (don’t forget natural colored corns! They are beautiful too) that can suite anyone’s taste!
Corns snakes are readily available and most are very reasonably priced.
Corns snakes are known for having calm dispositions and acclimate well to handling. As an adult a single corn snake will require an enclosure approximately 36″ x 18″.
Benefits of Corn Snakes
- Amazing color and pattern morphs available
- Setup and care is easier than most any other snake
- Corn snakes are a joy to handle and are by far the most reliable and easiest snake for all beginners; children and adults alike!
Our Runner Up: The Ball Python
The ball python, scientific name – python regius, is a larger-bodied snake from the continent of Africa.
Adult female ball pythons can reach sizes of 4-6 feet with males being a bit smaller and usually maxing out at approximately 3-3.5 feet.
Like their name suggests, ball pythons roll up into a ball when scared or threatened. Fortunately for the ball python owner this “balling up” is preferred over striking or biting; they would rather hide than bite!
Similar to corn snakes, ball pythons can reach up to 6 feet but unlike corns, they are much heavier bodied. Ball pythons require large enclosures ideally being 3 feet by 2 feet or larger. A larger sized enclosure is always better if you can provide one.
Be prepared for decades of responsible ball python ownership! They can 25-30 years! (some have even reached 40+)
Some question whether ball pythons should be “beginner pets,” and that comes down to one issue; feeding.
Some ball pythons will not eat for weeks or even months at a time. This almost always is a concern to new snake owners.
However, with some knowledge, experience, and a bit of patience feeding issues can be virtually eliminated for all but the most stubborn eaters.
Checklist When Your Snake Refuses to Eat
Benefits of Ball Pythons
- Ball pythons are found in most any color and pattern imaginable
- Setup and care is relatively simple
- Ball pythons are “big snakes” without being too large or unmanageable
Our Favorite: The Boa Constrictor
Like ball pythons, some question whether or not boas are good for beginners. Again, like ball pythons, we think they can be!
Boas are large, require large enclosures, and eat large food. As long as their care requirements are met boas are not any more difficult than ball pythons or similar snakes.
Many people don’t recommend them based on their size alone. We think that you’d be missing out on one of the best snakes ever!
As long as the boa keeper has done their homework and are prepared for their snake and can meet its demands, boas can be great snakes for many reptile keepers!
The Boa Constrictor, scientific name – boa constrictor are large bodied snakes from Central and South America.
Adult females can reach a size of 7-12 feet while males are usually smaller and tend to stay between 6-8 feet.
Not only are boas long, they are heavy as well. Females can tip the scales at nearly 60lbs! Somewhere between 20 and 30lbs are much more common however.
Like many big snakes boas can live between 20-30 years in captivity with some individuals living for more than four decades! A boa constrictor is a decades-long commitment!
Boa constrictors are large snakes and demand equally large enclosures. Minimum sizes approximately 6 feet by 4 feet are where many boa enclosures begin.
When it comes to enclosures for big snakes, BIGGER is always BETTER!
Benefits of a Boa Constrictor
- Large sized snake
- Despite their size boas are very docile and tolerate handling well
- Boa constrictors are great eaters and you will seldom have issues with them refusing food
What Makes a Good Pet Snake?
A “good pet snake” is not just an “easy” to keep reptile.
ALL snakes require an extra sense of responsibility and care than do many other pets. However, a determined and responsible individual can absolutely own a “good pet snake!”
One thing to keep in mind when owning a snake is to keep your expectations in check with the needs of the snake make sure to put their care first.
Snakes really can be great pets we just need to educate ourselves about their needs, behavior, and requirements. If you do those things I guarantee you’ll enjoy owning a snake. You might even ask yourself what took you so long getting one!
Snakes are unique pets that, sadly, not everyone loves as much as you do. You have a responsibility your snake, yourself, and others to educate and not to tease or scare someone with your pet.
You may get a quick laugh or grin out of startling someone or joking around or by poking fun at someone else’s fear of snakes, but in the end you’re only doing yourself and other reptile keepers a disservice by acting in such a manner.
Not only do we want to take care of our animals in the best way possible we also want to be stewards for them; highlighting their best qualities, educating others, and showcasing these animals as the incredible creatures that they are!
Perhaps a snake isn't for you?
How about a leopard gecko?
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I have a male and female snake in the same enclosure?
The short answer is ‘no.’
Most snakes are territorial and even males and females will fight each other.
If they don’t die from the fighting, many will perish because of the incredible amount of stress. (Again, STRESS KILLS)
Do snakes bite?
Snakes can bite, they have sharp teeth, and they can hurt!
Many snakes will bite and let go; others bite and hold on. (mostly when they mistaken you for food)
Biting is best, and most easily avoided in the first place.
Experience and good husbandry skill swill prevent you from getting bit.
However, on the chance that you do get bit, most likely a “strike” or warning will cause some mild bleeding and can be taken care of by washing with soap and water and applying a small bandage.
Western Hognose Snake
Western Hognose snakes can be good pets for beginners! Their smaller size and generally good dispositions can make keeping a hognose as a first snake and definite possibility.
- Hognose’s are mildly venomous however, don’t let that dissuade you from keeping one.
- Hognose snakes are rear-fanged snakes that don’t inject venom when they bite, but instead “chew” the venom into their prey with their rear teeth.
- For most people this venom causes no more severe reactions than does a bee sting!
Milksnakes are another snake that can be good for beginner reptile keepers.
Milksnakes can be found in a wide variety of beautiful colors sure to suite anyone’s taste!
- Milksnakes average between 4 and 5 feet in length
- Milksnakes are readily availanble in many different colors an d morphs
- Milksnakes get their name from folklore that said they would feed by drinking milk from cows. (completely untrue)
- Milksnakes can be a little flighty and are definitely “quicker” snakes than say a ball python or or corns. You have to be on your toes when handling them.
The popular kingsnake gets its name from the fact that they sometimes hunt and eat other snakes!
Kingsnakes can reach sizes of up to 6 feet and can live for 20 to 30 years.
- Kingsnakes are found in many beautiful patterns and morphs and are commonly available
- One of the most popular is the gorgeous all black Mexican black kingsnake
- The California kingsnakes is one of the most popular kingsnakes because of its ease of care and wide range of colors
Are Snakes Good Pets For Beginners? Answered
Snakes are special! There’s nothing like having a snake and watching it eat, shed, and slither along an arm, table, or inside its enclosure.
Can snakes make good pets for beginners? We certainly think so!
There are a number of great snakes on our Top 3 and many more that weren’t even covered in this article.
There are no shortage of great snakes that can be kept by first time reptile keepers and we hope we’ve shown you a small glimpse of a few of them here.
As always, research and do your homework to the specific needs of your pet snake, and you’ll have your very own reptile roommate to be proud of!