ball python beginner pet

Are Snakes Good Pets for Beginners?

Snakes are incredibly popular and make fascinating pets!

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!!

That said the question remains, do snakes make good pets? And if so, do they make good 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 reveal our best snake picks that can make awesome pets for the right person!

The Best Snakes as Pets

Best Pick

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

  1. Significantly reduces chance of parasites
  2. Minimizes acclimation and quarantine times
  3. Improved health and vitality of the snake
  4. 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!

In This Article

The 3 Best Snakes Pets

The 3 Best Snakes for Beginners

#1

4.5/5

The best snake pet is the corn snake.

Everything about corn snakes are great!

Personality, care requirements, hardiness, ease of feeding, etc etc.

#2

4/5

Our second choice is the ball python. 

Ball pythons are incredible snakes and can be even “better” than corns for some reptile keepers as long as you’re willing to work with their potential feeding “difficulties.”

#3

4/5

Our favorite snake out of these three is the boa constrictor. 

A boa constrictor for a beginner you say?

Yes, with realistic expectations and a little research beforehand, boas are great! -even for (some) 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

Runner-Up

Ball pythons may be the most popular pet snake in the industry! 

If you desire a larger-bodied snake that’s is well-tempered and easy to care for, then a ball python might be for you.

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 for snakes refusing to eat

  • Check your enclosure’s temperature (hot and cold sides) and make sure your thermometer is accurate.
  • Is your ball python stressed? Are you handling it to frequently? Have you made changes to its enclosure?
  • Do you have enough hides and secure places for your snake to feel secure? Hides in both the warm and cool end of the habitat are necessary?
  • Try wiggling the thawed rodent with your feeding tongs or drag/move it in the enclosure. Sometimes the movement of the food will entice a strike.
  • Try leaving the rodent in the snake’s enclosure overnight (NO LIVE rodents)
  • Offer the snakes food at night and possibly reduce the frequency of meals for a time.
  • Try offering a freshly killed rodent or a live rodent (do not leave live rodent unattended)
  • Don’t worry or panic. Ball pythons can be finicky creatures and test out patience sometimes. This is all NORMAL.

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

Our Favorite

Boa constrictors are one of our favorite snakes! Large yet docile temperaments, amazing color and patterning, there’s a lot to love about boa constrictors!

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?

Leopard geckos are one of the greatest pets for kids!

Their setup and care is simple and they can be very forgiving of even novice mistakes.

Leos are docile, easy to handle, and very hardy!

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 Snakes

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Considerations:

  • Senegal chameleons are smaller chameleons averaging 7-12 inches
  • a bit more rare and not as likely to be seen as the top three chameleons
  • all of these can be found captive-born

Milksnakes

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Considerations:

  • The most common chameleon found in Madagascar
  • Often called “jeweled chameleons because of their stunning coloration
  • Adults average 6-12 inches
  • Unusual for chameleons, the females are the more ornate and colorful

Kingsnakes

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Considerations:

  • Remarkably small in size, averaging 3 to 3 1/2 inches (some species can be as small as 1 inch!)
  • Resemble dead leaves, twigs, or moss
  • One of the few species that can be housed in groups 
  • Short lifespan of 1 to 3 years

Conclusion

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