The Best Pet Snake for a Beginner…

So you want a pet snake, huh? Well, as much as we love all snakes at Snake Buddies, it is important to remember that there are many variables to consider before buying your scaly critter. Most first time snake shoppers will simply pick out the one that appeals to them the most, aesthetically. Looks are certainly important, but there are other factors that should not be overlooked when deciding which one may be the best for you.

In this article we will discuss several aspects that one should take into account before handing over the credit card. Admittedly, there are many topics we will not cover for the sake of keeping the article readable and simple. Please understand that each individual animal may have its own personality and buck the trend entirely as well.

Today we will take a look at 10 of the most commonly available snakes in the pet trade. It should be noted that, when grouping snakes of multiple varieties together, there is an ample amount of wiggle room and subjectivity. My OPINIONS are the result of personal experience only, and though debatable, should be considered as “approximately” correct. Please don’t take it personally if I’ve rated your favorite snake toward the bottom of any certain category, as ALL of the snakes we look at today can make excellent pets for the right person.

The categories we look at today, will be hardiness, temperament, cost, feeding issues, breeding success, variety of colors, and size. Some of these factors, (i.e. cost and size) may be very important to you, while others (breeding success and color morphs) may not matter at all, so you are welcome and encouraged to add or subtract points based on those components that matter to you personally.

First, lets give some detail to each of these categories to help you understand how they might apply to your purchase.

Hardiness – This topic has to do with how healthy your snake is likely to be so long as you provide it with all necessary husbandry requirements and care it needs. It may also be an indicator of how likely your pet may be to survive if you happen to drop the ball at some time. Simply put, some snakes are easier to take care of, and can handle wider swings of consistency than others. If you worry that you may not be able to provide optimal care for your new pet, both you and the snake would be better off if the purchase is not made. However, a hardy pet will be more likely to survive, should you temporarily lose focus.

Temperament – In short, some snake species are quite docile, while others can be exceptionally nervous and shy. Regular handling of your pet will likely help it become “tamer”, but be aware that during this transition, you may need to be prepared for the occasional attempt to escape, bite, musk or even poop while being held. If you wish to avoid these experiences, your odds will improve with a more laid back species.

Cost – Depending on the species, gender, color and age of your pet, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $100 for regularly available specimens of the snakes we have highlighted. For less common morphs, you can pay a great deal more!!! Please be aware that this is the cost of the snake only! Be prepared to spend more on an appropriate cage, bedding, heat source and place to hide etc. Some snake do require larger cages than others adding expense to your pet purchase.

Feeding issues - This category can be looked at in several different ways. Your snake may be prone to go off feed every once in a while making it very difficult to get it to start eating again. Perhaps you decide on a Garter Snake, and must resort to feeding it fish. Or maybe you have that great eater, that assumes you want to feed it every time you open his cage and comes out mouth open and ready to bite whatever it sees first!! Most of these issues can be dealt with, but should be a consideration for a new snake owner.

Breeding success – Most of us buy a pet because we like it and want to take care of it, but some of us have hopes to produce our own at some point down the road. Breeding snakes can be a trial if you have King snakes that would rather eat each other than mate. Perhaps you have snakes that simply don’t express interest in one another, or maybe you’ve successfully bred them, they’ve laid eggs that have hatched, but now the babies refuse to eat. If you plan to try breeding for the first time, it might save you some grief by starting with any easy one.

Variety of colors – This one is pretty self-explanatory, but you are more likely to find a rainbow of colors and patterns amongst Corn Snakes and Ball Pythons than you are with a Mountain King or a Garter. This can also come in to play if you plan to breed your snakes down the road.

Size – There is no good size or bad size of snake, just make sure to purchase one that will fit your preference as an adult. For the purpose of the spreadsheet below, a “1″ indicates the smallest snake, and a “10″ represents the largest.

Rating system – We will be looking at 10 families of snakes, and 7 purchasing factors. Each snake will be rated 1 – 10 amongst its peers in each category. For all factors, a “1″ will be given to the snake with the most “appealing” trait, while a “10″ will be given to the animal with the least desirable tendency. There is a sum of all scores in the last column. The snake with the lowest total score would, all things being considered, make a better first snake, than the snake with the highest score.

Best pet snake

So is there any surprise that Corn snakes are the most common pet snakes in the U.S.? They are hardy, easy-to handle, inexpensive and pretty. Does this mean that a Corn snake is definitely the first snake you should buy? Absolutely not! The snake is as individual as the owner and you should purchase the one that appeals to you the most in all categories important to you. Let’s quickly discuss the individual snake families we’ve highlighted in this chart, and work our way from number 10 to number 1.

Boa Constrictor

boa constrictor

The Red Tail Boa is certainly one of the most common snakes in the pet trade, but they are also one of the most commonly gotten rid of. They are attractive enough, and make a fun show-piece, but ultimately get much larger (in excess of 10 feet) than most people are comfortable with long-term. Add to this, that they are a tropical species requiring high humidity and temperatures that are difficult to duplicate in captivity, and it’s easy to make the case that these snakes are better left to those that have at least moderate reptile experience. They certainly can still make a great first snake, however, for those resolved to give it proper care and attention.

Mountain Kingsnake

Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelena)

As pretty as they are, these snakes can still be a challenge to a novice snake keeper. As mountain dwellers, they prefer cooler temperatures than many of their close relatives. Babies can be very difficult to get eating, and even adults may occasionally become problem feeders. That said, they still tolerate some handling and are a good size to work with. So long as you are confident in be able to meet its needs, a Mountain Kingsnake can be a very rewarding pet.

Gray-banded King

gray-banded kingsnake

Though they live at lower elevations, Gray-bands, like Mountain Kings, are notoriously poor feeders as babies, and may often die before eating. It is best to pay a little extra, and buy one that has already been eating regularly. They come in a variety of patterns and their buggy eyes give them a unique personality for the moderately experienced snake keeper.

Milk Snake

Honduran Milksnake

Milk snakes come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. They can make great pets, but it should be noted that they are commonly more shy than King snakes, and especially as babies, will typically be more prone to musk or bite when being held.

Hognose Snake

Hog-nosed Snake

These snakes are amongst my personal favorite! They are relatively small, but have as much or more personality than any other snake I have ever seen. Though they are rarely defensive, they are masters at bluffing, and will sometimes hiss loudly, hood up almost cobra like, and even play dead if threatened. These behaviors are rather uncommon in captive conditions, but if it happens, don’t let them fool you!

Gopher/Bull Snake

Gopher Snake

Bulls and Gopher snakes are some of the hardiest snakes on the market, and they rarely have feeding issues. Some varieties,  can however get a little on the large side, may exhibit some aggressive behavior, and will eat much more than most pet snakes.

Ball Python

Ball Python

Ball Pythons make some of the best pet snakes out there! They come in as many different patterns as you can imagine. Normal Ball Pythons can be found for around $50, but it is not uncommon to find rarer color schemes upwards of $10,000 and higher! They stay relatively small for a Python (5 feet), are durable and calm for handling by even the inexperienced person, and are fairly hardy and easy to breed.

Common King Snake

Common California King Snake

There are multiple subspecies of common kingsnakes (California, Mexican Black, Desert, Speckled, Brooks etc. etc.) and many different morphs of each. Common Kings attain a manageable size, are hardy, and eat well. They are extremely common in the pet trade as well, and most of those available are captive bred. All things considered, this is one of the best starter snakes on the market.

Garter Snake

Garter Snake

Garter Snakes are one of the most common snakes in the U.S. and are often kept as pets. Though they are typically inexpensive ad hardy, Garters can have the tendency to musk more often than most pet snakes. They also tend to do better on a diet of fish, which may make feeding a bit more problematic.

Corn Snake

Corn Snakes

Cheap, hardy, common, readily available as captive bred, good eaters and pretty to boot. A well started (already eating readily) Corn snake is hard to beat for the novice snake keeper. These snakes come in more colors than anything else on the market and can make for exciting breeding projects as well!

Conclusion

Welcome to the exciting world of snake ownership! Keeping snakes as pets requires an additional amount of care and consideration. If you bring a snake home, be prepared to be confronted by family members and friends that do not care as much for snakes as you do. It is important to show understanding to their preferences and try to educate them. It is NEVER a good idea to tease, chase, or surprise anyone with your pet snake. Snakes are not meant to be prank material, and treating them as such, is a good way to end up with an injured or dead pet, and costly therapy bills for the one exposed to the traumatic event. Please exercise common sense and responsibility when introducing others to your pet.

We hope that this blog has been informative and useful. We openly admit that while trying to be completely objective, our own opinions and preferences have likely bled into the data. That said, if it were entirely up to me, the Hognose would have placed much higher, and the Garter much lower, but the math simply went in favor of the Garter.While we concentrated today on some of the best pet snakes, it is also important to recognize that there are some species that make VERY poor pets. Please consult with a snake expert prior to any purchase to avoid costly mistakes and bad experiences.

Keeping pet snakes, can be a very rewarding hobby, and an extremely educational experience. I learned many fascinating things while keeping snakes, that I never learned from reading the countless books I had my nose in as a kid. Snakes are one of the easiest pets to keep, yet can still be as stimulating as a bird, cat or fish.

If you are fellow snake keeper, we would love to hear what your first pet snake was, and what you would have done differently, given the chance. If you are thinking about buying your first pet snake, please share the experience with us!

Remember to “follow us” via the link at the top of the page. You can also connect with us via facebook by typing in “Snakebuddies”, or you can find us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SnakeBuddies

Yours truly,

Snake Buddies


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172 Responses to The Best Pet Snake for a Beginner…

  1. Greg Nickel says:

    Jamison. I loved your article. I am looking at getting a snake for my wife who loves snakes. This was very helpful in exploring different types of snakes!

    • Thanks Greg! I appreciate the kind words. Let me know if you have any questions.

      Jamison

      • Cassidy says:

        I have a question, I’m planning on getting a ball python for my first snake and I know that they are nocturnal snakes so I was wondering if I should use a blue or red lightbulb in my heating lamps or should I just use ceramic heat emitters during the day and put a blue one on at night instead and just let the natural light be enough during the day. Basically what do you think I should do for lighting and heating? I will be using a glass tank. I really appreciate this article. It definitely helped with all of my research!

  2. Lauren Arrington says:

    I want your opinion on a Hog Island Boa for a first snake…?

    • Lauren,

      I would really consider the Hogg Island Boa to be fairly typical (if smaller) of a normal Boa Constrictor, or Red Tail Boa, as they are very closely related. There are indeed easier first snakes, but a Hogg can still be a very rewarding first pet snake. They are said to have been exterpated from the wild and only exist in captivity. For this reason, I would take extra care to find a reputable breeder that will sell you a healthy snake with proven Hogg bloodlines. Young boas are often less hardy than adults, so you may also consider getting one that is “well-started” (eating frozen-thawed regularly and perhaps a little older). If you decide to go with any type of boa, remember that they do have higher humidity requirements than most snakes, and will need extra care. Please enjoy your new pet and make sure to seek qualified help with any questions or needs that may arise.

      Your snake buddy,

      Jamison

  3. Micaeli Fleminger says:

    Hi Jamison, I really want a pet snake but I have no idea which one to get. My first snake was a wild caught Red Bellied that was found in a truck at my Mom’s work from Nova Scotia. I would have preferred to let it go but winter was just around the corner. It wouldn’t eat, mostly because I didn’t know where to find the food they eat, and when I finally decided to give it to a Reptile place it died :’( I felt so bad. I would way prefer Captive Bred. I am totally in love with Hognoses. I’ve held babies and adults and I love them. I almost bought a really tame one at an Expo but my Dad wouldn’t buy it for me. For the past year or so I’ve been reading about them and they look pretty good. But when I talked to my friend who works at a vet and has lots of experience with reptiles, she said they’re a little “complex” and said I should go for a Ball or Corn so I decided to read up on those but they don’t compare to a Hog. They also get quite big on my standards.

    • Micaeli,

      Thanks for posting such a great question! Too many people buy first and ask questions later. You are smart to ask experts as you have been doing. If you want my honest opion…buy a HOGNOSE! I firmly believe that a person should buy the snake they like the most, so long as they are confident that they can, and will be able to take care of it properly. If you love Hognoses, as I do, you will be more inclined to love and care for it, and will get more appreciation out of the relationship, than if you buy some other snake, just because it is easy to take care of. In my experience, a Hognose is not much more complex than a Corn Snake, and if you have the right resources, you will be every bit as successful with it, as you would be a Corn. Now for the better news…. My best, and fellow SnakeBuddy Shaun Vought, has some of the best looking and healthiest Hognose I have ever seen! He won’t sell one unless it’s eating like a champ and as healthy as can be. He’s got lots of colors to choose from too, but his green ones are SCREAMING HOT! I’d be happy to put you in touch with him, if you’d like. Would yo ulike his phone number or email address? I promise you will not find a nicer or more knowledgable snake breeder anywhere. Just let me know, and whatever you get, enjoy your new pet!!!

      Regards,

      Jamison

  4. Micaeli Fleminger says:

    Thank you so much for the reply! Getting a snke is still a bit aways from me but I would love to get in touch with Shaun Vought! May I have his email address?

  5. naren says:

    hi i need advise
    ive purchased a brazillian rainbow boa
    under 1 side of his tank i have a heater,inside i have bark and a hide box,on the other side i have desert dune sand alittle bark and a hide box.please could you advise if the sand is good to be there or should i remove it and put full bark.
    please note the bark on both sides and the sand is misted twice a day.
    thanking you in advance.

    • Hi Naren! Rainbow Boas are awesome! Congratulations on your purchase. Thinking of a Rainbow Boa as a tropical snake, I would consider keeping them on “tropical” substrate. Sand just seems a little unnatural, and does a poor job of retaining moisture. Your snake will prefer humidity as close to 100% as you can keep it. A large water bowl is a good idea as well. It sounds like you’re doing your research and I’m sure your snake keeping experience will be much better because of it. Thanks for visiting our site, and keep us posted on your snake.

      Your SnakeBuddy,

      Jamison

  6. Naren says:

    hi
    im sorry i should have said i have a water bowl on the cooler side.Ive now put in a branch which ive cut from a cherry tree.My snake (diablo)spends almost all his time in a warm hide box(during the day)at night ive seen him move to the water bowl.is that good.i try to handle him almost every day,ive researched that he has to eat once a week and cannot be handled 3 days after eating or after shedding.i am offered a swop for two yellow anacondas for him what do you advise”ive never owned a snake before this is my first(as growing up it was kill at first sight).somthing im not too proud of,im now a pet lover “well 3 dogs,100+fish,parrot,cat,hamsters,rabbit and snake and in process of purchasing a iguana and 2 beared dragons”so no haters please.
    thank you for a site where i can get advise.
    naren

  7. Cheyenne says:

    HI there! My snake and I both loved your article! (he’s crawling all over the keyboard as I’m trying to type! lol) He is my first snake, a ball python, but I’m dying to experiment with other breeds! I can’t explain my passion for snakes, but it is indeed passionate! :p Just my personal opinion as balls as first snakes, they really are a great breed to go for, because they become quite lovable once they’re used to you and your scent (as several of my friends’ snakes have done with me as well as my own). As for their eating concerns, my snake generally doesn’t have problems……as long as their live! My little diva won’t eat anything he doesn’t kill first, but hey, he’s my little rascal :p May I ask, what is largest and nicest snake commonly kept as pets?

  8. mrjakescott says:

    I’ve got a corn snake and I love it. it’s a great pet and easy to handle. What is your opinion of the woma python? I saw one at a reptile presentation at the school I where I work and was very curious about what kind of pet they make.

    • Womas are fantastic pythons. I really like them for their temperament and size. They get a little “longer” while still being manageable and, though they move around a lot more than a Ball Python, they are typically just as tame. They are an Australian species, so they can handle drier conditions a little better than others as well, without having as many shedding issues. They are certainly more difficult to keep than a Corn, so do your research and make sure you are prepared to meet all of its needs, and you’ll have a great pet. Let us know how it goes.

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  9. Adam J. says:

    Hi,
    I’m willing to buy my first pet snake and I have no idea what to get as a beginner.
    Please help me choose the best pet snake (which is also great around kids).

    Thanks allot and looking forward for your reply,

    Adam

    • Hi Adam,

      Thanks for visiting our blog. My recommendation might be better if I knew more about the climate where you live, and the age of your kids. You typically can’t go wrong with a Corn snake. They are pretty, hardy and inexpensive for the most part, without getting too big, and being generally well mannered. That said, I really like a Ball Python with younger kids, as they are more robust, and resistant to getting mangled, but need a little more humidity and room. If you read this article, there should be more issues covered that can help you get started. Regardless of the snake you purchase, I would highly recommend buying one that is a little older/larger and readily eats frozen/thawed mice or rats. Babies of any breed can be a pain.

      Thanks again!

      Jamison

  10. Morgan says:

    Hi, I loved reading all the information you had available! It really helped me in making the choice on what snake to get. I have never owned one, and finally decided on a hognose:) curtesy of your information, after falling completely in love with one at reptile addictions. His name is Apophis, and is such a funny interactive pet! Thanks again for the advice:)!

    • I’m so glad that my advice was useful to you. Some people don’t seem to understand that owning a snake can be a as rewarding as owning a dog or cat. Hognoses really do have so much personality. I love them too! Keep us posted, and enjoy your new hobby!

      Jamison

  11. This was incredibly helpful. I’m a huge snake fanatic but up until now, I wasn’t able to have a pet cause of where I live. With a new location, I can now own a pet…and I adore snakes. This was very informative. thank you for posting

  12. Missy says:

    Which snake do u recommend for first timmer & kids to get

    • Missy,

      Great question! If your kids are younger (1-8 years old) I think Ball Pythons are the best for handling. They are very rarely aggressive, and since they are bulky and muscular, they can tolerate less proper handling from small hands that could injure a smaller, more delicate snake. If they are over eight, and have the ability to handle your pet carefully, I think Corn snakes are perfect first time snakes, with the easiest care requirements. I hope that helps, and that you come back to visit us occasionally.

      Your snake buddy,

      Jamison

  13. Stephen says:

    Hi I can’t decide wich snake to get for a first snake. Wich do you recommend ? A corn, common king, or grater snake.

    • Stephen,

      The easy answer, is Corn snake! However, I recommend that of those three, you pick the one you like the best, and that you think will keep you interested long-term. I’m not a huge fan of Garters, since a lot of them prefer to eat frogs, slugs, worms, or fish, and since they have a tendancy to musk regularly, but I do know several people that LOVE Garters. To each his own, so long as you can adequately care for whichever snake you purchase. They three you have identified, all have fairly simple care requirements, although Kings are the coolest in my opinion. lol If you read my whole article, I think you’ve got plenty of ammo to help you make the right choice for yourself.

      Thanks for reaching out to us!!

      Jamison

  14. Laura says:

    I absolutely loved your article and the pictures that went with it. After seeing how cute a hognose is I may have to have that be my next new addition! About 6 months ago I purchased a 9 month old balll python who has grown on me very quickly. She is my first snake and is all that I could ever want in a snake. Andromeda has never bitten me or been aggressive at all. She is sitting in my lap and relaxing as I type this! Ball pythons are normally head shy but Andy lets me rub her cheaks which makes me feel very special indeed.

    • Laura,

      Thanks for your comment. Snake ownership is extremely rewarding when you take just a little time to do some research, and make sure that you can adequately prepare for your pet. It sounds like you have done everything right, and I have full faith, that an adorable Hognose, would make a very fun addition to your home. I appreciate you taking time to read my post, and hope to see you around from time to time. Keep us updated on your progress, and call my buddy Shaun (435-979-3940) if you are serious about picking up a high quality and healthy Hognose. His snakes are awesome!

      Jamison

  15. Sabrina says:

    Hi I really loved your article- it was super helpful! I might get a snake next year or so- my dad agreed to consider getting me one if I got first place in a piano competition. I might not win, but if I do, my dad will be more likely to get me a snake (he said “consider”) if I know what kind of snake I’m going to get and am very knowledgeable about that particular species. I’m currently considering a ball python, a common king snake, or a corn snake. Also, my mom is quite scared of snakes, so a super friendly species would be good. Thanks!

    • Hi there Sabrina!

      Thanks for visiting my blog, and leaving your comment! Good luck with your piano competition, and with encouraging your parents to consider an awesome pet, like a snake. I’ve found the best way to help people overcome their fear of snakes is education. Buy a book on the species you want to keep, and share your wisdom with your parents. Keep doing your research on-line as well. Find nice pics of the snakes you like, and show them to your parents. I have kids (piano players too), and I am WAY more inclined to give them what they want, if they show me how important it is to them. If you do the work to find out where to get your pet, what it will cost, how to take care of it, etc. I think you’ll have a bit more luck. Oddly enough, some snakes have a “cute factor” and are my accepted by “snake-haters” than others. Hognoses certainly warm the hearts of many hesitant parents, when they see them at the reptile expos I attend.

      Keep us posted, and let us know how you progress. If your Dad sees you practicing piano more than ever, he may appreciate your efforts, and get you the snake, even if you can’t win the competition. :)

      Good luck!

      Jamison

  16. Stephen says:

    Hey, it’s Stephen again. Do corn snakes hibernate every year and do they musk a lot ?

    • Hey Steven,

      Snakes in captivity only hibernate (technically brumate) when placed in cold rooms (around 50 degrees F) during the Winter. This practice is not required, but promotes a much stronger breeding response when warmed up again in the Spring. Although the musk from Corn Snakes is not very pleasant, most of them rarely do this, making them a more ideal pet. With regular handling, you will likely never end up with “smelly hands”. :)

      Hope that helps!

      Jamison

  17. Stephen says:

    Thanks for both, Jamison!!!!!!!!!! :)

  18. Stephen says:

    Jamison, how often do you have to clean a corn snakes cage?

    • Hey Stephen,

      I just work cage cleaning into my weekly maintenance schedule, unless I notice any potentially odor-causing occurrences throughout the week. This typically involves removing poop and the surrounding wood shavings, and cleaning and refilling the water bowl/s. I generally find that the wood shavings only need to be replaced once every month or two. 5 minutes of cleaning a week isn’t too bad in my opinion.

      Jamison

  19. daniel says:

    hello jamison. i recently caught an anaconda hatchling from the wild. it seems tame and is eating properly. what should i do. thank you

    • Daniel,

      Can I ask a few questions? First of all, where did you catch it? Secondly, where do you live? The answers to those two questions will better help me to know how to answer your question. Please send a pic as well, if you can. Green Anacondas are awesome!

  20. Tom says:

    Hey, i’m currently saving up to buy my first snake but i’m stumped on whether to get a ball python or a boa constrictor. i know boa’s aren’t the ideal starter pet but i’m pretty confident that i could take care of it, i was just wondering if you could give me some advice and help me decide because they both are so beautiful.

    P.S: i don’t really fancy a corn snake or one of a similar size because they are a bit to small for my liking

    • Tom,

      If you don’t like small snakes, please don’t buy a small snake. It simply won’t hold your interest long enough for you to keep it forever, and there’s no reason to own a pet, you don’t plan to keep, right? That said, I prefer venomous snakes, but I still don’t keep them, because it’s not the responsible thing for me to do. You’ve got to stick with the critters you fancy, as long as that is the smart decision. In my opinion, I would probably start with a Ball Python, because they still stay a more manageable size than a Boa, and won’t require as big of a cage, and are easier to take care of etc. Just remind yourself that you live in a climate MUCH different than what either of these species are native to, so you must be extra diligent to keep them in an atmosphere that will ensure a healthy snake. Keep them warm and cozy, and you’ll have success with either snake.

      Jamison

  21. MaryBeth says:

    Hey!! Loved reading this… so much great info. I was curious what you thought would be a good first snake for my boys. They are 6, 9 and 12. They are not in any way timid of snakes and/or any reptiles. We have many reptiles but this will be our first snake. We live in Florida and we are luckly to have many Pet stores that have amazing snakes to choose from. Just not sure which is best. I know they will want one they can handle a lot. Thanks!!!
    MaryBeth

    • MaryBeth,

      Thanks for the comment! I’m very glad that you liked my article. It’s admittedly less than perfect, but hope that it at least gives folks a place to start. Living in Florida gives you a great advantage, considering that climate-wise, it’s a great place for snakes! It’s much easier to keep reptiles that require higher humidity there, than it is, here in Utah for sure. That said, I would encourage you to consider keeping a native species. Corn Snakes are native to Florida, are pretty simple to keep, tolerate lots of handling, and are fairly inexpensive. However, one thing I detest about Florida laws, is that they allow collectors to grab snakes from their natural habitat, and sell them to the public. If you buy a Corn Snake, please go out of your way to find one that was captive-bred and raised. I hate to see these cool critters ripped from nature, and sold to the highest bidder. You may pay a bit more, but if you buy a “morph” (color pattern achieved through selective breeding), you will be more certain that it wasn’t collected from the wild. Another reason I recommend a native species for you, is because Florida receives so much bad press about invasive species taking over the state. We don’t need any more Burmese Pythons cruising around free in your home state. :) Considering you are already experienced reptile keepers, and most snakes are easier to take care of than lizards, I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest a Ball Python, a Western Hog-Nosed Snake or a King Snake either! You’ll do just fine, as long as your boys have a gentle touch when handling them and can faithfully feed and water them once a week.

      Jamison

  22. Jessica Harrison says:

    Hi, i was wondering if you could offer a little advice. I am 15years old and REALLY want a snake. My parents wont let me have one though :(
    I was wondering if you could offer me some comforting words that I can give my parents.
    They are particularly worried about the smell (mum) and the feeding (mum) and the cost (dad.)
    Thanks for all your help.
    - Jess

    • Hi, Jessica. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m a parent, and certainly have my opinions regarding what my kids want to do as well. It’s simply how we work, and there’s not much a kid can do about it. :) That said, when one of my children shows genuine excitement for something, studies and researches that subject, and educates me regarding advantages, costs, and opportunities, I am certainly more inclined to compromise. Especially if they offer to do chores, to earn money to pay for it! I live in the U.S., and although I’m a a huge fan of Australian reptiles, I can’t say that I know much about the pet trade there. I would encourage you to do a bit of research on-line, to find local snake breeders, so that you can identify the breed of snake you wish to keep, and the cost to purchase that snake, along with a cage, substrate, water bowl, hide, and a heat source. Don’t forget to take into account the cost to feed your pet once a week as well.

      Communication is key, Jess. Sometimes adults will give you an easy excuse, although they have other concerns like being afraid of snakes. Ask your dad what concerns he has about cost, and what price he would be comfortable with. Ask your mom why she thinks that your snake would smell (I’ve had snakes in my house for years, and if I clean their cages once a week, you will never smell them), and what issues she has with feeding. Perhaps she doesn’t like the thought of your snake killing a mouse. I ONLY feed frozen/thawed mice to my pets. Once you know what their specific concerns are, you are more prepared to research and address them.

      Lastly, be empathetic (listen and show understanding) toward your parent’s concerns, while expressing the reasons for your desire to have a snake. Don’t try to prove their arguments wrong, just show them the research that you have done, that addresses their concerns. Some people have very strong opinions when it comes to snakes. You and your parents live in a country, where the majority of the snakes in your back yard can kill you, so they may have a genuine fear. If all logic and reason fails to persuade your folks, then realize that in a few short years, you’ll be on your own, and be able to keep the animals that fascinate you. I can’t tell you how many snake books I read, or snake shows I watched as a kid before I kept my first snake. The fact that you found my blog, and posted your question, says a lot about the kind of person you are. I’m inclined to believe that your parents will appreciate your efforts and may just bend a little on this one, if you approach it the right way.

      If all else fails, let them know that I have agreed to let them send me a Death Adder, a Red Belly Black Snake, and an Inland Taipan, in exchange for a Corn Snake. That will make your back yard safer, and get you a free snake as well. Hahaha!!

      Your SnakeBuddy,

      Jamison

  23. Elise says:

    This is such a great article! I chose to get a ball python earlier this week for all the reasons you listed (because they’re relatively small for pythons, easy to handle, and are hardy). I also happen to think they’re one of the prettiest types of snakes out there (boa constrictors are gorgeous, too, but they’re so big!). My ball python actually looks a lot like the one you posted a picture of, though I guess the majority of ball pythons look that way. Anyhow, thanks for the article! Seeing the information and images laid out like this definitely helps the choosing process.

  24. Josh says:

    First, I want to say that I really enjoyed reading all the detailed information on here. Also, the comments and replies have been a great read too. I’ve always been intrigued by snakes ever since I was young. Was never allowed to have one as a pet. Now that I’m older, married, have my own home, I was able to convince my wife that we should have one as a pet. So we spent some time looking at different breeds. We decided on a Banded California King Snake and I must say that I’m 100% thrilled with the choice. I absolutely love its markings also the black and white colors just really seem to pop. I also got to pick out the snakes name “Neptune” which my wife and young daughters like the name choice. One thing that we have had to deal with is friends/family not really happy with the fact that “we have a snake, willingly in our home”. I honestly doubt even with me attempting to educated them about the breed would change any of their minds. Oh well their loss, right? So far the temperament has been great, no nipping as of yet. Doesn’t seem shy at all very active. A very good eater so far no issues with that. I’ve heard/read a lot of different input on how often the snake should be feed. Some say 2 times a week. Some have said once every 10 days. Also the number of “pinkies” varies as well. Some say 4 some say 2, others say it depends on how fast you want it to grow. Whats really the right way to handle the feeding? The snake at this time from what I was told is about 10-11 weeks old. Neptune has been in my possession for around 10 days. I’ll stop with my questions for now. Thanks for the blog and all the times it seems like you have put into it. It was great running across this while looking up some info on my new buddy Neptune.

    Josh

  25. Ben seeney says:

    Hi found the article very interesting I have kept reptiles for several years but never had a snake, was always more interested in lizards and have kept clown agama’s, bearded dragons a uromatstx and have just purchased a beaver tailed agama but as time has gone on I have been more and more interested in snakes, at the start they seemed like slitherey rocks that think everything is food but recently a friend of mine purchased a corn snake which is incredibly friendly and great to watch although I like corns everybody seems to have one so I was interested in having something else I have a 4ft tank available with all necessary equipment to keep a range of different snakes and lizards I would love to hear any suggestions the smaller the better but would like an active (as can possibly be) friendly snake I really like royals any suggestions would be brilliant

    • Hi Ben,

      Lizards are great. I love them too, but have always had a passion for reptiles without legs. If you want small and active, a Royal (Ball) Python, is probably not the best option for you. They stay small by python standards, but a 5 foot Ball Python is not uncommon, and they are one of the least active snakes I have owned. They are however, quite attractive and interesting. For small, active snakes for someone with reptiles experience (snakes are typically much harder than lizards) I would look into a Hog-nosed snake, and any of the available King Snakes or Milk snakes. Check out the “colubrid” section on this website I think you’ll be surprised by the amount of diversity and options available. I hope that is helpful. Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions.

      Jamison

  26. Daniel Mosko says:

    My 10 year old brother wants the responsibility of a snake. He’s very mature for his age and I think he can handle it. I suggested either the corn snake or ball python but my mom doesn’t like the typical red eyes in the corn snake and I don’t want my brother to lose interest in the less active ball python, although I’m sure he actually would… Any suggestions? Oh, and he has abut 400 dollars that he can spend on the snake and habitat combined…

    • I think you are right in considering a Corn. The red eyes your mother dislikes, are not a trait held by most Corn snakes, but those that were bred to carry albino traits. “Normal” Corn Snakes have “normal” eyes. I’m not a fan of the pink or red eyes either, and typically steer clear of most of the snakes morphs, and go for the normal looking snakes. You should certainly be able to stay within the budget too.

      Good luck!

      Jamison

  27. Penny says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you could give me any advice about getting my first snake. I’ve been researching different kinds of snake and have totally fallen in love with the beauty rat snake.. Do you know if one would make a suitable first snake or have any advice or tips?

    • Hi Penny! Thanks for commenting on my blog. Your question is a good one, and considering Beauty Ratsnakes are less common in the pet trade, shows that you’ve been doing some research. Although I wouldn’t likely ever suggest one as a first snake, I do like them, and have seen some pretty laid back individuals. The down side, is that they can get pretty large (in excess of 7 feet), and can be a little more active than some other species, which means that they do better in larger cages, and I have also come across a few of them that can be a bit on the feisty side, but that can be said of lots of species. It’s likely different her in the U.S. than it is in the U.K., but Trans Pecos Rats would perhaps be a good alternative snake, for similar look, yet more docile and smaller species, that is much more readily available on this side of the Atlantic. They come in normal, blonde and silver phases, and have really cool, big eyes. That said, I really think it is important to get a snake that you will be passionate about, and that will keep your interest long-term. If the Beauty Rat is the only one that’s really captured your attention, and an alternative just won’t do, it may be a huge mistake to get anything else. Do a little more research on the snake to identify it’s needs properly, and if you can manage it, I’m sure you’ll be just fine. Keep us posted on what you get, and feel free to email me a photo of the snake you get. Best of luck to you and your new pet!

      Take care,

      Jamison

      • Silver Trans Pecos Ratsnake

        Silver Trans Pecos Ratsnake

      • Penny says:

        Hi, thanks for your reply.. Considering that it was a Vietnamese Blue Beauty that I fell in love with and that it is the largest of the beauty snakes, you’re probably right that it would be a bad first snake.. I think I could manage even a naughty one (as a ferret owner I’m used to being bitten) but having researched it at length I couldn’t guarantee it and wouldn’t want to risk it.. I find lots of snakes very beautiful and could easily fall for something else! I think I might go to the reptile shop again and gaze into some beady little snake eyes, see who else can capture my heart! I’d love to eventually have a few snakes so if I started with something smaller it’d still get loads of love and attention!

        If I wanted something not too big and not too expensive to care for which ones would you recommend?

  28. Dean says:

    Hi there i totally enjoyed ur blog and i would just like to ask what ur opinioun would be on a red tail boa as a first snake , i live in South Africa and really love this snake, i have handeled the boa before,done research and enjoyed it. i know corn snakes are mostly recomended but i dont really like them and dont really have a good relationship with them.(bitten by them before which is uncommon ) i also considered the ball python but i dont really know much about them…Could u please advise me on ur opinion,and could u supply me with more information about the ball python
    thank you for ur time
    Dean

    • Hi Dean. Sorry for the late reply. I’ve gotten a bit behind in replying to comments. With proper care, I think that a Red Tail can be a great first snake. Just understand that they do require a little more attention to detail than other snakes. I think Ball Pythons make a great alternative, considering they are indigenous to Africa, are a little less expensive, and don’t get as large. Attached are some care sheets for the two. I hope you find them helpful, and wish you luck with your new snake.

      Take care,

      Jamison

  29. Jurie Cloete says:

    I’m going to get a taiwanese Rat snake in about a week or 2 !!

    They are the most beautiful snakes in my books !!
    Are they good pets ? Eating problems?
    I know they get pretty long !
    What do you know about their behaviour and things I would need to know about the snake ?

    • My best advice, is to do some web searches for care sheets on them. This is one of the better ones I could find:

      I do have some limited experience with them, but have not personally owned one myself. They can be a bit on the aggressive side, especially when young, and they are not as hardy as a Corn snake, for example. That said, I like them a lot, and think they can make fantastic and interesting pets. Good luck to you and your snake.

      Jamison

  30. Elizabeth says:

    Hi!
    I’m looking into buying a small snake for my younger brother,
    Can you advise me as to which breed of snake would be a good choice?
    He’s 15 years old, a responsible kid but very active so he’d need something that
    doesn’t require a TON of extra maintenance.
    He lives with our 4 siblings who love snakes so I don’t know if there’s a type of
    snake that particularly likes to be held, but one that’s ok with being handled
    would be good. Also, I’m hoping for something that he doesn’t have to feed anything
    that’s still alive, we had a friend with gecko’s that he fed live crickets to and I
    think my brother’s a little too sensitive for that!
    One other factor is budget, neither of us have a huge one, and I don’t want to get
    a snake unless we are able to get him/her absolutely everything they need to be
    healthy and happy. If there is a breed that is more economical to purchase/care for
    that would be helpful!
    And I don’t know if this makes a difference, but he lives in Southern Ontario.
    I know it’s alot of criteria, but if you happen to know of a small snake breed that
    would work, it would be much appreciated!
    Elizabeth

    • Elizabeth,

      Hi there! Thanks for the comment on my blog. I think the “best” pet snake, is the one that your brother is most interested in. My top three recommendations on starter snakes (durability, price, and size), are Corn Snakes, King Snakes, and Ball Pythons. A California King is the smallest of the three, Corns are the cheapest and the best feeders, and Ball Pythons are one of the best for handling. You may get lucky, and have no issues with your snake at all, but be aware, that no snake is fool-proof. They will all require regular attention and care, and a feeding or behavior issue would not be rare with any of them. I recommend that you buy one that is at least a few months old, and is eating frozen-thawed regularly. No snake loves to be held, but the three I mentioned, are typically pretty good about handling. I recommend finding a care sheet on each of the snakes mentioned, and getting the one that you feel will best meet your brothers interests and ability to care for it properly.

      Hope that helps!

      Jamison

  31. Eve Finnigan says:

    Hi, I just came across this site as I was trying to find a good snake that I could own. I’m nearly 15 and I’m in love with snakes. The only problem is my mum won’t let me get one, not just a snake but any pet because I had 2 gerbils before and I didn’t take care of them. I think it’s because I didn’t have a real passion with them like I do with snakes. Any idea how I could get her to let me get a snake? Also I love the Western Hog-Nose Snake but I don’t know if it’s a good idea to get it as my first snake. A reply would be brilliant. I live in the UK

    • Eve,

      Thanks for your questions. Your mother has reason to be concerned, and I think you’ll have to work hard to show her that you’ll be responsible with another pet. Communication is extremely important. Do lots of research on the snake you want, and what it will take (cost and work) to take care of it properly, and share that with her. You should also make sure that you show her that you are listening to her concerns, and take them into account. A young (6 months to a year-old) Western Hog-nosed would make a great first snake, if you and your mum decide you are ready for one.

      Good luck, and keep in touch!

      Jamison

  32. Katie says:

    Hello!

    I’m sixteen years old, and have always been fairly fascinated with snakes. I’ve had a few science teachers with snakes over the years, and generally spend most of class time holding their snakes :) I would love to have a pet snake of my own, but not only are my mom and sister afraid of snakes, but the idea of venomous or constricting snakes freaks me out quite exceptionally. If I see a snake in the wild, I stay far from it, but if its a captive snake, I can’t seem to get quite enough. I would love to own a small snake, small as in it wouldn’t grow much larger than three feet at most kind of thing, since I live in a relatively small house, and wouldn’t have much room for a larger cage or anything. My dad completely supports the idea of me getting a snake, but I go off to college in two years, and I will be leaving my parents to take care of my two cats in addition to a snake if I had one. After a year of college, I will presumably get an apartment or something so I could actually keep my animals with me, but the snake would most likely have to stay at home for a year first. Additionally, I am a vegetarian, and although the idea of feeding frozen animals to a snake would work out all-right, feeding live animals to a snake is pretty much out of the question. Finally, I live in a house with three cats and two dogs. I’m not entirely sure how much other animals affect a snake, but the snake would not be the sole animal in the house. Sorry for this huge long rambling note(I really don’t know when to shut up), but that all being said, would you advise me against getting a snake? My mom could be convinced to let me get a snake and my dad would loe to have one, but with every other factor, do you think a snake could be happy and well cared for at my house?

    Thanks for reading this all, and I apologize for the extreme length of this :P
    -Katie

    • Katie,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m glad to meet a fellow snake fanatic! I think that a snake would make an excellent addition to your life, but it may make sense to give yourself a couple of years to let life settle a bit. You need to keep the preferences of those you live with, in mind. If your dad will gladly take care of your snake in your absence, without it bugging you mom, then maybe you could get one now, but I would wager that she would prefer that you wait until a time when you wouldn’t have to leave it in their care for a year. As you likely know, there is no such thing as a vegetarian snake, but you should easily be able to find a snake that is already eating frozen/thawed mice. I do not believe in feeding live, and have only done it, out of necessity, in training snakes to take frozen/thawed. As long as your snake has a proper and secure cage out of reach of the other animals, it should be perfectly fine. There are several small snakes to choose from. I would suggest researching King Snakes (Grey-band, California, Desert) and smaller Milk snakes (Peublan, Mexican etc). I hope this helps.

      Merry Christmas!

      Jamison

  33. puddyrama says:

    Hi! I really would like to have a pet snake, and even living in Brazil, I have the possibility of having one. But I need to know one thing: There’s a snake species that I’ve seen sometimes, white with yellow spots. I personally find that snake so stunning and gorgeous. Do you know what’s the species’ name? Thank you!

    • Hi puddyrama,
      I would love to help you identify your snakes, but will unfortunately need a bit more info. Honestly, a photo would be best, if you can send one to us. If not, I would need as much detail as possible (average length, other physical characteristics like color, pattern, the region in Brazil where you see them etc.) Please be as descriptive as possible.

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  34. Brandon says:

    That was a very helpful article. I like ball pythons and i have been doing reseaech, but what size terrarium should i buy? I was thinking something like a 20 gallon tall fish tank.

    • Hi Brandon,

      A 20 gallon would be fine for a young Ball Python, but it will quickly outgrow such a small tank. When I kept Ball Pythons, I felt that a 40 gallon breeder was a good size to allow them a better temperature gradient, room to stretch, a decent sized climbing branch, and basking spots. I like to keep a water bowl in my cages that will allow the snake to soak in it if they feel inclined. An adult Ball Python needs a pretty big water bowl and hides, better accommodated by the 40 gallon. I hope that helps!

      Jamison

  35. Zac Eaton says:

    Hi there,

    I am LOVE snakes and I am considering buying one again. My first snake was a corn snake, but sadly it died a few months ago of old age. The poor old thing was 11 years old. There is an excellent reptile breeder 10 minutes away from me and he has over 100 species of snakes and lizards. But I wanted to ask you if I should buy a Carpet Python or a Brazilian Rainbow boa? The breeder has Bredli and Jaguar carpets, but when I asked him witch to buy he said to buy his last Jaguar. I think he said it because the Jaguar is $30 more expensive than the boa and the other carpets. He also said that I could buy his male Ball python that is a possible het axanthic, but I don’t want to breed snakes and it would be a waste to buy it and not breed a morph

    Kind regards, Zac

    • Zac,

      Sorry to hear about your Corn snake. I prefer Aussie Pythons over Brazilian Boas, but I think you should buy the snake you like best, and that you can take care of. Rainbow Boas prefer as close to 100% humidity as you can get, making them a little more difficult to keep, but no less rewarding. A Carpet is a Carpet, regardless of the paint job, so if you go that direction, get the one most aesthetically pleasing to you. I see nothing wrong with buying a poss het Ball Python either, if the price is right. Since it is unproven, and you have no desire to breed it, you should be able to pick it up for close to the cost of a normal, if a Ball Python will satisfy your needs. The breeder likely has no desire to prove it out himself, so you’d be doing him a favor by buying a snake for a little more than normal, that he has little interest in keeping himself. Remember that breeders are in the business of selling you something. He may be a great guy, but he’ll always try to sell whatever benefits him. Best of luck with your upcoming purchase!

      Regards,

      Jamison

  36. puddyrama says:

    They’re not from Brazil, I’ve seen one here in the US too. I think is a Ball Phyton. Do albino ones have yellow spots?

  37. Oh, I see. Yes, Albino Ball Pythons do have yellow spots, but lots of other snakes can as well. I thought you had seen them in the wild. Sorry.

  38. Vicki says:

    I know some one who got a rattle snake in AZ. and brought it to SD with him and has had it for 5 years. He was young and not so smart. Now he wants to get rid of it, with out killing it but does not know where to take it where he won’t get into trouble for having it. Does any one know of a place?

    • Vicki,
      Thanks for visiting my blog, and for looking out for a person who, like many, made a really bad, impulse decision. I can’t say that I’ve never been tempted to do the same, but had the ability to exercise just enough self-restraint and foresight, not to fall into that trap. I’m not sure how far away you live, but I would start by reaching out to Terry Phillip, curator of Reptile Gardens, in Rapid City. He loves, and takes care of countless venomous snakes. If he can’t take the snake, he may have other contacts close by, that could. If however, you are unable to find a suitable home for the animal, my best advice, is to put the snake in the freezer over night, to give him a humane death. Please do not let it go in the wild, keep it, or give it to anyone who is not a snake expert, who can legally care for it. Will you please email a photo (don’t post it on my blog) of the snake to me, so that I can identify the species? There are a handful of rattlesnakes in Arizona, that are vigorously protected, and I want to ensure that I help your friend stay out of trouble, if he’s got a critter that could land him in hot water. You can email me at jamisonhensley@gmail.com .

      You can reach Terry (after we determine the species) at:
      605-430-5508
      terry@blackhillspythons.com

      Thanks again for reaching out to SnakeBuddies!

      Jamison

  39. cshalou says:

    Reblogged this on I Write. I Learn. and commented:
    Cool scaly companions.

  40. Carol says:

    Hi,

    I have a corn snake who is now about 8 1/2 years old. He seems happy and healthy. How long do corn snakes normally live? He lives on defrosted baby mice as he hasn’t gotten big enough to manage full size mice. He is very calm, but hates pooping in his cage so you have to watch out when you hold him. Might it be possible to breed him? What is involved?

    Thanks,
    Carol

    • Carol,

      Thanks for the questions. There’s a lot to cover there, so I might have to refer you to some other sources. Your snake should definitely be breeding age, although sounds a bit small for it’s age. How often do you feed it? Corn snakes can easily live 15 to 20 years in captivity, if properly cared for. If you want to breed it, I say go for it, but it can be time consuming. I would start by finding out if you have a male or female, and purchasing another, of the opposite sex. Keep them separate and well-fed. Here is a link to a site that will help you from there:

      Good luck, and have fun! I have found breeding snakes to be extremely rewarding!

      Jamison

  41. Sarah says:

    Thank you for the awesome blog post Jamison! All your comments are INCREDIBLY helpful as well.

    I’m looking in to getting my first snake, and I’m 99% sure I will be getting a corn snake. I have several questions:

    1 – What type of heating system should I get? A lamp, heating pad, or both?
    2 – What size tank should I get? I would prefer not to upgrade the tank as the snake gets larger, so what size would be best for an adult corn snake?
    3 – Where is the best place to get an afforable large tank?

    Thank you so so much!

    • Sarah,

      What great questions and your kind words! It is obvious that you have done some research, and I am confident you and your new pet, will be better off because of it. I would definitely recommend reading care sheets on Corn Snakes. This one will give you a pretty good place to start.

      My advice, is as follows:
      1 – I like a combo of under-tank heating pad and either a lamp or heat emitter on a timer. Having multiple heat sources like this, can make it tough to create optimal heat variations in a small habitat, but since you are planning long-term, I think you can accomplish this. Please do not buy heat rocks. They create too much direct heat, and will burn your snake. I usually put my heat pad on one side of the tank (with a hide over the top), and the timed light on the other side of the tank, over the water bowl. With a long enough tank, you can still manage a cooler spot in the middle, where I would put a second hide.

      2 – Knowing that your Corn Snake could potentially reach over 5 feet, I would look for a 40 Gallon breeder tank, as an optimal size for an adult. This size should allow you to achieve the heating options described in #1.

      3 – I don’t know where you live, but have found great deals on tank and pet supplies in my local classifieds and reptile expos. Otherwise, you just have to keep an eye out for deals at your local pet stores.

      Best of luck to you, Sarah! Post pics of your new pet, once you’ve got him.

      Jamison

  42. I am thinking about getting a Python but I don’t know what species would be a good choice for me. I’ve never owned a snake before. But I am very anxious.
    Can you give me your opinion?

    • Thanks for the comment on my blog. What is the source of your anxiety? When it comes to beginner pythons, I would stick with either a Ball Python, or a Children’s Python. They are both pretty mild-mannered, stay smaller (for Pythons), and are a little less finicky than others. Research them a bit more on-line, and let me know if you have more questions.

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  43. Nicole says:

    Hi there,
    I am looking to purchase my first snake. I really need it to be easy on all levels and definately needs to have a good temperament. It also has to stay small though. Can you let me know the smallest that you can think of that has an easy temperment as well as being on the easy side with its other characteristics.
    Thanks,
    Nicole

    • Nicole,

      Thanks for coming here for more information, before buying your new pet. Though I would say that snakes are easier than most pets, they still require regular attention, regardless of the species. Did you read my entire blog post, on the best snakes for beginners? This post ranks each species by size, ease and temperament, so I think your answers are here. Though lots of snakes become manageable over time, many babies will be more flighty, musky and bitey. You may be better off purchasing an adult snake, so that you won’t be surprised by how big it becomes. Adult snakes are also more forgiving when it comes to a missed feeding, and are typically easier to handle as well. I would look at California Kings, or Western Hog-nosed snakes that are at least a year or two old, and used to handling.

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  44. Aaron says:

    Hey! I really liked this article and had a quick question to ask. How much do you know about ringneck snakes? Are they difficult to raise. Even if you get them young?

    • Aaron,

      Ringnecks are cool, but can be tough to keep, unless you’ve got some experience. What kind do you want to get, and where are you getting it from? Regal Ringnecks will typically only want to eat other snakes, which most snake lovers don’t have the stomach for. Ask the person you are buying from, if you can see it eat before you buy it, to make sure that 1) it is eating, and 2) that you can meet it’s needs.

      Jamison

  45. Rachael says:

    I came across your post while I searching for which snake had the best temperament. I was not looking to get a snake, I was just curious. Anyways I would like to say that this post was quite nice. It was thorough, easy to understand, and well formatted. I also thought your answers to comments were very informative. I’m glad I came here first. Although I don’t intend on owning a snake I respect people who do, they are amazing creatures. The nature center I went to every summer had a corn snake which they recently bred, it was a really great experience to handle the snake (dad)and to see the babies. Anyways thank you for the great post. Nice to see people out there educating and promoting the love and proper care of animals!

  46. Fantastic Article! I used to work at a zoo and perform presentations on reptiles- snakes (certain snakes) are one of the few reptiles that visitors are legally allowed to pet…in fact almost all the snakes on your list are included! It was unbelievable how many people feared and hated snakes (mostly due to adam and eve) and it was a great feeling when you saw the reaction of a child or adult pet the snake – their eyes would light up and thy would be calm like “woah this snake is kinda cool and not so bad afterall!

  47. Megan says:

    Your article is amazing. It really inspired me to want a snake. I became really in love with the Hognose snake after reading your post, but I also really think the Ball Python and Corn Snakes are good choices too. But I was wondering, would it be best to buy a snake from a pet store, or an expo? Also, which breed (the Hognose, Ball Python, or Corn) is less aggressive and will tolerate more handling? So, after reading the article, I went to look up the Hognose to find more information. There seems to be three different types of Hognose Snakes. I saw Eastern, Southern, and Western. Which one is the easiest first time snake?

    • Megan,

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. There are also Mexican Hogs, and tri-color hogs, but I would suggest starting with a Western. They are the most readily available and affordable, and pretty easy to keep. Easterns and Southerns are picky eaters. The best answer I can offer regarding where to buy, is from a trusted breeder. Pet stores charge a lot, and hardly any of them know anything about snakes. My buddy Shaun, would be a great person to buy a snake from, if you want a healthy quality animal. You’ll have to pay to get it shipped overnight to you, but his prices are way more affordable than average, and you’re guaranteed to get a healthy animal. You can call him at 435-979-3940 if you want to ask him what he has available.

      Good luck with finding your new pet!

      Jamison

  48. Wow dude, I am currently in the search for an ackie monitor and a beginning snake pet, and I must say, this article was extremely helpful.

  49. Patrick L says:

    Hey I am looking to buy my first snake soon, so I looked up your list and it helped alot. I am, however, equally scared and fascinated by them. So what would be a good starter snake for me to overcome my fear?

    • Patrick,

      That’s a tough question to answer. There is a bit of risk in getting a snake to overcome your fear of snakes. What happens, if you get the snake, and your fear is stronger than your fascination? I only ask this, because I do know people who have bought snakes without overcoming their fear, and it has resulted in neglected snakes, and more anxiety for the owner. I think it can potentially go either way.

      My answer to overcoming fear, starts with education. By coming to this blog, you’re taking a great first step. Reading accurate information gives you understanding, and helps dispell the many myths that incite fear in us. A trip to a zoo, reptile park, or herpetological society can also give you some education and hands-on experience with snakes, which I think will also go a long way in overcoming those fears. Ultimately, I think you will know, when your fascination has grown significantly enough to want to have one of these cool critters in your home.

      Lastly, and I hate to say it, I would steer clear of nearly all snake shows on TV. Animal Planet and even Discovery seem to have decided that fear generates more revenue than education, and their programming is hugely biased toward demonizing these animals. Crocodile Hunter reruns and most programming on the BBC, are pretty good, if you want to go that route.

      Best of luck to you! It’s a big win for this hobby, any time we can convert a snake fearer into a snake appreciator. Help us win the battle!

      Jamison

      • danny says:

        hi, patrick,
        i was like that i was really scared of snake but loved the looks of them. so one day i thought right im going to get a snake and i looked at care sheets ect and i got a corn snake although once i got it my fear was stronger but i thought right im going to pick it up so i went along and picked it up and now i think what was the fuss all about and now i own corn snakes different morphs and royal pythons different morphs and ever since my first corn snake it was the best chose i made . no matter how many times i try to downsize and get lizards ie. water dragons, leapard & crested geckos, bearded dragons ect ect i all ways go back to snakes i now a lot off people who as got rid of there full collection of snakes and a month later they have all ways gone back to snake. so there is nothen to be scared about but if you decide to get a snake have a look around before choosing one because ive rushed out to get a certain morph and the week after i would see a different morph and wish i got that one but yo can go in the reptile shops and ask to hold them if it will over come your fear because if they was going to bite yo they wouldent let you hold them. but i would go to some shops and hold them if you are from the UK you can do that.

        hope this helps

  50. Ryan says:

    Hello!

    As a graduate student at Indiana University, I really appreciate your putting forth the effort to quantify with reasoning the “best” snakes for beginners! Although I am not new with reptiles, I am new with snakes. I sought much advice in accordance with my own research before purchasing my first reptile, which is a Mali Uromastyx. Because she was going to be my first lizard, or reptile for that matter, I came across only a select experienced few that advocated for the Mali Uromastyx as a first reptile pet. Most others seemed to think a Uromastyx was too difficult for a beginner and recommended a Leopard Gecko or Bearded Dragon instead. However, I know my personality and after doing the research, I found both of the other recommended breeds to be, in my own opinion, simply boring. I realized at a young age that a pet is a longterm commitment, which inclined me to opt for the Uromastyx, even if it would require some extra effort. Needless to say, I was anxious at first to see if I had made the correct decision, but today she is 12 years old and living the good life in her 40gal tank.

    Now I seem to be in the same boat with my first snake. Everyone seems to recommend a corn snake or a ball python. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all snakes but corn snakes seem to be too feeble. I really enjoyed handling ball pythons, but a fair share of them seem lack a good personality. I am looking for a snake that is typically comfortable outside of its enclosure and does not mind being handled (In other words, a snake that I can build a solid level of trust with over time). The shallow side of me also seeks a snake that is less common and is great to just observe when not being handled. I am willing to put forth the extra effort for my first snake, but in all fairness of the pet, which should come first as always, I do not want to be out of my league.

    Given the information provided, what snake (which may or may not be on your list) would you recommend for my personal situation? (If you have any other questions for further clarification, please do not hesitate to ask!)

    Best,

    Ryan

    • Ryan,

      Good to hear from you, and congratulations for having the introspection to realize that animal hobbies are NOT a “One size fits all” environment. Your success with a Uromastyx as a first lizard, does say something about your husbandry efforts and long-term commitment. I’d say most snakes available in this hobby, will be easier than your lizard, so you’re off to a good start.

      When I was first given permission to keep a snake, one of my top requirements, was that it not be a Corn Snake. I certainly can appreciate where you’re coming from there, even if I do concede that a Corn makes a great beginner snake. I’m very picky, and I’m a planner, so before even researching all of the possibilities, I made a list of the qualities I did and didn’t want, and then went through an arduous process of elimination, resulting in the ownership of a snake I absolutely loved.

      Should you be as hyper-cautious as I was, you’re list might include things like preferable size, demeanor/ease of handling, propensity to musk, would I rather feed it mice, rats, rabbits or goats?, cost, what it looks like etc. In all honesty, making my list, and then doing the research, was one of the most fun parts of the process for me.

      From what you have mentioned so far, I get the feeling that you are leaning toward a larger, more robust snake. There are a few colubrids that fit the bill (Black Milk snake, Texas Indigo, Mexican Pine, etc.), or you could simply start in the boa/python arena. Unless you are ready for a 20 foot snake, eating domesticated farm animals, I’d avoid the Anacondas, Burmese, Rock and Reticulated Pythons etc. You may then want to decide if you are looking more for an awesome display animal (Emerald Tree Boa) or one that is super laid back (Children’s Python) I personally think the Dumeril’s Boa is a widely under-appreciated and beautiful snake. I also love some of the Australian Pythons like the Woma, the Black-Headed and the Carpet Pythons.

      The classifieds section on Kingsnake.com is a great place to go, to see all the different examples of snakes in a certain category, which will help you narrow things down, and give you a ballpark idea on the price of the animals as well.

      I hope this helps, and wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect long-term pet you desire. Keep us posted, would ya?

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  51. Chey says:

    Hello! I found this article while researching snakes as pets, and it’s awesome. =) I’ve always loved snakes and have been wanting more and more to have one someday. I definitely want to do a lot more research first, (and in reality it will be another year or so before I’d be in the position to add a pet snake to my life) but this blogpost is a great jumping-off point and has made me really interested in hognoses! I’ve never heard of them before, but love their little snouts, and that they don’t get very big, and I’d really like a species who has a decent temperament that I can handle and interact with. I wanted to ask though: I live in a rather out-of-the-way part of Florida. Reptile expos/stores are all hundreds of miles away, too far for me to travel often enough to know people well enough to judge their trustworthiness. If I decide to get a snake, to find a good breeder (like Shaun if he’s still in the business if/when I decide to take the plunge!) I know it might require getting the snake shipped to me. When buying a snake that requires the breeder to ship them, is there anything special that should to be done to help them warm up to you/their new home? Is the shipping process likely to make them stressed or skittish and adverse to handling right away? Or do snakes tend to regard shipping as not particularly traumatizing? Thanks!

    • Chey,

      I’m very glad that you found my blog useful, and that you took the time to ask some very good questions. Please keep in touch when you are ready to purchase your snake. I’m positive that of all the snake projects Shaun has going, Hognoses would be the last he’d want to give up. We do ship snakes fairly frequently, and have figured out ways to make the experience as un-traumatizing as possible. We try to only ship during milder months, avoiding the dead of Winter, and the extreme Summer months. We put a heat pack in the box, when shipping during cooler periods, and always ship overnight, so that the snakes spend as little time in transit as possible. Whether you get your snake shipped to you, or pick it up at the pet store, it is best to give it some time (a few days to a week) to adjust to its new environment, before handling it a lot. All snakes, regardless of species, can have their own personality, so if interaction is a big deal for you, you can always ask a breeder for an animal that is more laid back and tolerant of handling. You got a good amount of time to do your research. Browse through a few Hognose care sheets, and get familiar with the needs of your upcoming pet. They are fantastic and interesting snakes, and I’m sure you will love the one you end up getting.

      Jamison

  52. Lydia Jones says:

    I am thinking about getting a snake for my classroom, I am really liking the corn snake for the obvious reasons, pretty, docile, easy to feed and relatively small in size. I really liked your blog, it was very helpful! I am wondering your stance on having a pet snake in the classroom. Thank you!

    • Lydia,

      I LOVE IT!!! I wish every classroom had a pet snake in it. Education is the best cure for fears and phobias. When I do classroom presentations in schools, it is unbelievable how engaged and excited the children are. However, the older the kids, the more fear they have. I strongly believe that kids are taught by parents and other adults to fear (and hate) snakes. Please check with your principal or district before bringing a snake into the classroom, as many schools have strict “no animals in the classroom” policies. If they are ok with it, go for it! I would encourage you to plan a set up and location where the cage will be in view, but not bumped or broken, or where a child could be burned by a heat lamp etc. I would consider starting with a snake at least a couple of feet long, as they are not as likely to slip out of enclosures, and are a little more hardy. Please keep us posted!

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  53. Richard says:

    Thank you for the article, it was incredibly informative and gave me incite on potential pets. Although I do not plan on purchasing a snake immediately (would rather be out of college and living on my own first) I have always thought about owning a snake. I think their one of the most misunderstood animals and some of the symbolism they represent also intrigues me. I admit I was afraid of snakes, well almost all animals, as a kid but have grown to like snakes. I have thought about obtaining a Sand Boa as a first pet, but have also had a fascination with green and yellow annacondas. I have also thought about a ball python or Burmese python. In essence, I want a snake that would be medium sized and even tempered. The overall patterns and appearances matter little to me as long as she/he is loveable which all of them are.

    • Richard,

      Snakes are fascinating on many levels. I’m glad you have grown to appreciate them for what they are. If medium size is what you are looking for, I would encourage you to avoid both Anacondas and Burmese Pythons. They can grow to exceed 20 feet, and will eat rabbits, and need a cage the size of your bedroom. Sand Boas stay relatively small, and make decent pets, but will hide a lot in a cage. Ball Pythons will typically reach 4 to 5 feet and are fairly easy to care for, and beautiful. They are also one of the more docile species in the pet trade. I hope that helps a little.

      Regards,

      Jamison

  54. Kelty says:

    Hello! My roommates and I are looking to get a pet snake for our apartment next year. I see from the comments that corn snakes are commonly the best starter snakes. Are they relatively friendly? Also we are looking for a medium sized snake and one that we can take care of easily and play with. Would a ball python be better? Thank you!

    • Kelty,

      That’s a hard question to answer. Corn snakes are great. However, roommates can change frequently, and a “group pet” can easily become forgotten, or left to someone not interested in caring for it. I think it would be best for one of you to assume ownership and responsibility of the animal. “Play with” is also something that should be addressed. Some snakes (Ball Pythons and Corn Snakes) will tolerate handling well, but handling typically involves holding and petting. I know you’re not planning to play flag football or tug-of-war with your snake, but I had my share of good times with roommates during my college days, and you can never know what one boring evening can lead to. lol I’m not criticizing at all, just asking that you and your pals have some basic rules in place before the purchase. Personally, I think a Ball Python would be a bit more “bachelor pad friendly”.

      Jamison

  55. Gavin says:

    Um I just turned 11 and I need an EPIC cheap pet snake what do you suggest and it also has to be small or will never try to harm me. Thanks!

    • Gavin,

      Snakes don’t really qualify as “EPIC cheap”. Even if you catch a snake in the wild (please don’t), you could easily spend $150 on proper caging required to keep it healthy. Buying mice to feed the snake can get expensive too. You’re not too young to start mowing lawns or finding small jobs to help you save to afford a snake. Lastly, and please know that I’m not trying to be rude, please put more thought into your pet, than cost alone. Expense is a tiny part of what will make the best pet for you. Do your research, look for qualities you think you will like, and pick the snake that you are going to truly enjoy. It’s worth having to save up for a while to find the right pet.

      Take good care, little man, and stay in touch!

      Jamison

  56. Ashley Christenson says:

    Hi, I loved your blog! it is very hard to find good reputable, true, factual, non-biased, information sites…about anything now a a days. Your honest, your blog clearly shows that you are experienced and knowledge. That really do know what you talking about and give good clean advice. My reason for this post is. I love animals! Reptiles especially! I love snakes…all different types of snakes. Venomous(Eastern Diamondback, Vipers and Cobras are my fav) , the constrictors (specially pythons and anacondas). I want a snake but i have never owned one before. I have owned a beardie a few years ago. Anyways. I want to know what snake make good beginners and are easy to keep. I do not like corn snakes, I mean they are cool and come in awesome morphs. I am favoring the ball python, king snake. What want the most is a green tree python. Which one of these critters is a better beginner? I am open to other species too. I want a easy keeper, I dont like little wiggle squiggle snakes…i am afraid of them getting out and squishing them. I perfer a more solid serpent. I live in Minnesota, we get moderately warm summers and alasken cold winters. I haven been around snakes that much and I have only held one once….which kind of scared me just the feeling of a snakes coils was unusual and weird feeling.
    Anyways, I was wondering if you could give some advice on keeping snakes in general. What do I need to do. Being an animal freeaakkk! I am all about the research. I know how important is to prepare yourself before getting a pet…of any kind be it a dog, cat, snake or elephant. I am actually planning to become a herpetologist some day. and it doesnt hurt to expand the brain a little. Can you help me?
    -Ash

    • Thanks so much for the kind words, Ash! I really write these posts for me, but am extremely pleased when other people enjoy them. Venomous snakes have always been my passion, but I like them all as well, and encourage you to keep snakes that can’t end your precious life. :) I think you would do well to start with a Ball Python or one of the Kingsnakes from your other post. Green Tree Pythons make for an amazing display animal, but can be quite expensive, and much less tolerant to handling. Tree dwelling snakes have inherently long teeth (they need them for catching birds), and even though they are technically “harmless”, they can leave quite the nasty bite. If you want a snake to hold, the others will be more enjoyable for you. If you’re looking for a robust snake, and Pythons are more your cup of tee, I’d see nothing wrong with a Ball Python at all. Continue to do your research. I could give you more information, but there are dozens of great care sheets on-line for all different types of snakes, that will be more comprehensive than what I can write here. Do however, stay in touch, and continue to ask questions. Your brain seems to be off to a great start, but expanding it can never hurt. I wish you the best of luck in becoming a herpetologist! That was my dream as well, and even if life took me another route, I feel very lucky to spend as much time with these critters I love, as I do. Keep it up, Skygirl, and let us know how that pet elephant works out for you. :)

      Your SnakeBuddy,

      Jamison

      • Ashley Christenson says:

        Thank you for getting back to me! Dont worry about the venomous snakes. Although very cool, I respect that they are dangerous. I’ll leave them to the professionals…til I become one. And I dont think my parents will allow an elephant..they’re not to fond of getting a snake let alone an elephant=D Thank you for your advice on which snakes are good beginners. Now I can narrow it down to the one I want the most. Even thought I do still want a Green Tree Python. I can wait until I know more about taking care snake, so I know how to look after them properly. So! King Snake vs Ball Python…hmm.
        Well I am really wanting to do a semi-tropical/tropical theme enclosure….so which of these snakes snakes would fit better?

        Thank you again!!
        Ash

  57. Ashley Christenson says:

    Hi, I have a question for you about King Snakes. Um…what environment are they from, tropical, semi-tropical. or desert. I know there are different types of kings from different habitats. Some of the Kings I am interested in if I get a King Snake; is the Mexican Black King Snake, Striped King, Black & White King and the Desert King…which is obviously a desert creature. If you can tell me about them, that would be great!

    • I love the enthusiasm, Ash! I’m just getting to my messages, and will answer your two posts separately. King snakes are great, but can encompass a very vast range in climate and geographical origin. Common names can be super misleading, so pics may serve well in this instance. However, based on common snakes in the pet trade, I’m pretty sure I know which ones you are asking about. All of the snakes you mentioned, belong to the same species (Lampropeltis getula) and are very closely related. The Striped, and Black and White Kingsnakes, are actually the same snake (California Kingsnake), but with different color patterns. They all have similar care requirements, temperaments, and size as well. Their ranges actually overlap a little in the wild, and integrades in these zones are quite common. Cal Kings are certainly the most common pets and are a bit less expensive, but I’d go with the one that is the most pleasing (looks-wise) to you. They all make great pets, when cared for properly.

      Jamison

  58. Teddy says:

    Hello. I would really like your opinion on a Mexican Kingsnake as my first snake. Also, are there any snakes that look like the Mexican Kingsnake? Thanks in advance!

    • Teddy,

      Mexican Kingsnake is a pretty broad category from the perspective of common names. Which one specifically, were you looking at? That will help a lot, in understanding what other snakes look like it. The most common in the pet trade, is the Mexican Black, which is a close relative the the California Kingsnake. I love most all Kings, but really do enjoy the Mexican Blacks. One could argue that any black snake would look like it. i.e. Black Rat Snake, Black Milksnake, Black Racer etc., but out of all of those options, I would still pick the Mexican Black Kingsnake.

      Jamison

      • Teddy says:

        I meant a Mexican Black. Any info could help, i.e. size, musking, etc.

      • Sure, Teddy. As mentioned before, I think they are fantastic! A big reason I like them is not just looks though. They are easy to work with, pretty laid back, and a manageable size. Any King Snake can musk, but in my experience, if your snake is not neglected for long periods of time, it will likely never musk.

        Jamison

      • Teddy says:

        WOW! Thanks a lot for your help! I know what kinda of snake I’m gonna get now :D. Again, thanks so much!

  59. AA says:

    My 5 year old is a big snake fan and is after getting one for pet. Would you have a recommendation on a very low maintenance and kid friendly snake

    • I would go with a one or two year old Corn Snake, that you can let your son interact with before buying. That way, you’ll know you have a good eater, and make sure it will be friendly.

      Jamison

  60. Stef says:

    Hi Jamison,

    Thank you for posting such an informative blog! I also appreciate the fact that you took the time and effort to address each and every comment posted. I was actually researching for a pet when I stumble on your blog. I live in Hong Kong and the climate here is rather seasonal, with a fair share of hot summer and cold winters (not the snowing type of cold weather though). I wanted to get a pet snake, but I’m not sure which breed will thrive best here. There aren’t many pet stores here that sell snakes, and the one that does, doesn’t have a hog nose (which I fell in love after reading about it) besides hog nose, are there any snakes that stay relatively small? Also, should I purchase from breeders overseas? Would it be hazardous for the snake’s health to travel? Thanks in advance!

    • Stef,

      You are too kind. Thanks for such positive feedback. I only wish I had more time to write articles and answer questions. To be honest, I’m not sure how to answer your questions. I’ve spent no time in Hong Kong, am not familiar with what snakes are typically sold there, and have no contacts there to help steer you toward good pet stores or breeders. I would be very hesitant to order snakes from overseas, as you could come up against very high shipping costs exceeding the cost of the snake, customs issues, and longer travel time, which could be harmful to your pet. I know that it does happen with success, but I’ve never shipped overseas myself.

      All that said, I would start by looking into the snakes that are available locally, and start researching them for the traits you are looking for. Hoggies are spectacular, but you’re bound to find another breed that will peak your interests. Make sure to share with us, what you end up with.

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  61. bronwyn says:

    hi i live in Australia can you get milk snakes in Australia and if not my son wants a snake its his first its going to be handled a bit of course not when its eating,not very big like the size of a pueblan milk snake because its his first it needs to be easy to care for thanks love your blog

    • bronwyn,

      I live on the other side of the world, and really have no idea if Milk Snakes are readily available in Australia or not. If you’ll buy me a plane ticket, I’ll be happy to come check it out for you. haha! I’ve wanted to visit your country my entire life, but it’ll have to wait. My guess, is that with some digging, you’ll likely find someone with Milks for sale, since they are popular pets, and there are no laws I’m aware of that would prevent importation into Australia. If you come up empty, my best advice is to hit a variety of pet stores in your area, or at least look on-line and make some phone calls. The Children’s Python from Australia makes a very nice pet, and stays fairly small as well.

      Jamison

  62. Alberto says:

    Hello! I’m going to buy a snake in the next few days. The only current reptiles I own are Leopard Geckos, I seem to be doing really well with them. So now I want to a snake to add to my collection. I’m very much into Rosy Boas. I have seen one at my local reptile pet store, but they never seem to be in a top ten list for best snakes to start with. The snake the comes up the most is Corn Snakes and Ball Pythons. For my first snake, what would be less nippy and better for a starter? A Rosy Boa Or Corn Snake?

    • Alberto,

      Rosy’s can be fantastic pets! They are fairly hardy, eat well, stay a manageable size, and are pretty neat looking too. Rosy Boas are among the most docile snakes I have ever had the pleasure of catching in the wild. However, in captivity, if they are not fed regularly and consistently, and handled often, I have seen them get quite food aggressive, and come out of the cage mouth open, any time the cage is opened up. They are not aggressive, but simply get conditioned to eat when you open the cage, and may bite the first thing they see. If you do keep one, I would suggest feeding it in a separate container (not in its cage), so that it won’t become accustomed to “biting the hand that feeds it”. I hope that helps!

      Jamison

  63. Gabby says:

    Hi I really want a snake but i can’t get one. My mom thinks that I’m not responsible enough. I take care of my dog all the time and took care of our cat. she died at a old age and sickness. I’ve been begging my mom for a while and saved up a lot of money. I told her many times that I’m ready. She has been thinking about it. I’m waiting for her answer, which she hasn’t given me in a week. I need help but i can’t choose if i can get a snake over the boa or the corn snake.

    Please Help

    • Gabby,

      If your mom is less than thrilled about you getting a snake in the first place, I would certainly get the Corn Snake over the Boa, if she finally decides you can get a snake. The Boa could grow to around 10 feet and eat bunnies, where the Corn will most likely top out at around 5 feet. I would guess that your mom would rather have the Corn snake in her house, than a Boa Constrictor. If your mother continues to express uncertainty, give her some time. You’re still young, and have lots of time to get snakes. Trust me when I tell you that getting a snake, that the main decision maker really doesn’t like, won’t be good for you in the future. Keep showing (not telling) her how you will be responsible, and she might like the positive influence the pet has on you, and appreciate it more.

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  64. Ashley Christenson says:

    Hi Snake Buddies. How are you doing? Its been a while since I’ve been on here. If you remember, I was deciding on rather or not to get a Ball Python or a Kingsnake. Well, I decided on getting a ball python. I haven’t gotten one yet, I haven’t even gotten a terrarium yet. Everything is so expensive. Once I get a snake…whenever that will be. I’ve been wanting a Fire Mojave. I also like the just the ordinary Fire Ball, and the Pinstripe morphs. But I really want the Fire Mojave. Anyways. I have a few questions for you. I am having trouble choosing what substrate to use. My mom doesn’t want it to smell. But I also want a natural look to the tank. Ive been thinking using Aspen snake bedding which I heard is good for snakes a is easy on the nose. But I have read that aspen doesn’t hold a lot moisture and it isnt good for getting wet with misting. I ask, what substrate is good for a ball python and its humidity requirements yet doesn’t smell?

    My other question is I plan to get a small ball python like the typical age you can find at pet stores. I am going to get one of those Exo-Terra dual door glass terrariums. For an adult ball python it says they need a size: 36″ L x 18″ W x 24″ H terrariums. Is there other sizes that ball can live in a adult size. But like I said want small python. Some people buy a tank for the current size of their snake/ other large reptile and then buy bigger when the critter gets bigger. I really dont want to buy two expensive tanks. Can you help me?

  65. Rachelle says:

    I LOVED your article! Been window shopping and reading up on the best snake for a beginner like me to get and because your article explained so much,I’ve settled on a Corn Snake! Alot of the websites I read didn’t explain everything like your did! Thank You!

  66. Troy says:

    Hey there, great article! Years ago I owned a ball python and it was great! But now I am thinking of going with something a little bigger. I was thinking a boa constrictor. I want to be able to handle my new snake lots. Will I get bitten? Thanks in advance!

    • Troy, Any snake can bite, and whether you get bitten or not, depends on many variables. Each individual snake will have its own temperament, but even if it is docile, you could get bitten if your snake gets too hungry, if it is exposed to a stressful environment, or if you accidentally hurt it. Boas can make great pets. I would recommend interacting with the animal you plan to purchase, before you buy it, to make sure it is not too aggressive to begin with. From then, regular feeding, adequate caging and regular handling, should make for a great pet.

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  67. Ninja says:

    Hello snakebuddies!
    I am a university student and have dreamed about having a snake pet since I was a small child. I am thinking about getting a hognose, ball python or a corn snake. I live now by my own and have enough money to keep the snake healthy and happy BUT I wonder if my home will fit. I live in the city, near a policestation, a firestation a block away and a hostpital a mile away, in short it can be pretty noisy in the nights. I know that snakes has really bad hearing but the noise of firetrucks, policecars, ect can it be a stress-element for the snake?
    Also, will my time at school be a problem? My classes are in the morning to lunchtime but once a week or so will I have labtime that ends about 16-20. (dinnertime)
    Can the snake handle that I am away that much? If so, which one can handle it (and the noise) best?

    Please help! (and sorry for my bad english)

    • Ninja,

      Your English is great. No worries! You and your snake will be fine in the city. Snakes really don’t hear at all. They feel vibrations through their lower jaw that connect to a very basic “inner ear”. Any new snake, will take a couple of weeks to adjust to a new environment, but after that, your snake will be just fine. Remember that snakes are not really social creatures, and if anything, prefer to be on their own as much as possible. The only reason to handle a snake, is to get them used to and comfortable with people, and for your enjoyment. I honestly can’t think of a better city pet, than a snake. Good luck with it!

      Jamison

  68. Michael Oramas says:

    Hi, I too am a passionate snake lover. I bought my first snake about two years ago (ball python). I absolutely love it to death! I am looking to get my second snake soon. I am wanting a snake that will get between 5-7 ft long, doesn’t mind handling, and as best looking as possible. Any recommendations?
    Thanks,
    Michael Oramas

    • Michael,

      When it comes to aesthetics (looks), everything is relative. You may like blondes, while I prefer brunettes. lol I can steer you in the right direction size-wise, but you’ll have to ultimately decide which one looks the best to you. At 5 – 7 feet, I would look into Corn Snakes, Bull/Gopher snakes, Dumeril’s Boa, Rainbow Boa, and the smaller Australian Pythons (Woma, Black-head, and Carpet). Remember that Corns will likely be the most readily available, less expensive than average, and can be found in more color schemes than I can count, but will be closer to 5 feet, as an adult.

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  69. Jeremy says:

    I was reading on another site that corn snakes make really good escape artists and I would like to handle my snake often once he/she becomes used to me. Being a first time owner and not having much knowledge about snakes, would the corn snake still be my best choice?

    • I would say that ANY snake good at climbing (most snakes are), make good escape artists. Remember that these folks are talking about snakes escaping from their cage, not from the people holding them. Small snakes can fit through incredibly small openings, and can get through very small cracks in cage tops. Make sure to buy a cage with a very secure lid, and you should be able to keep it from getting out. As your snake gets bigger, it will have a harder time fitting through these small openings, and will become less of an escape artist, the bigger it gets. If you are worried about it at all, but a Corn Snake that is a year or two old, and don’t go too cheap on the cage.

      Hope that helps,

      Jamison

      • Jeremy says:

        Thank you. That does help a lot. What would you say is the best type of cage for a first time snake owner that’s not too expensive?

  70. Andi says:

    Thank you so much for this article and all of your thoughtful and precise responses on the comments. I adore snakes but my mother doesn’t, so I haven’t been able to indulge in my desire to own one. Fortunately, I’m moving out in January to Arizona and my friend is offering to help me buy a snake and all the necessary equipment once I’m settled in. I’ve never owned any sort of reptile before, so even though I am very excited at this prospect, I am still a bit nervous. As I’m going to be in a relatively small apartment, I don’t want a snake that would require a large tank. I would like a snake that could be forgiving of delayed feedings and has a gentle temperament. Novelty, breeding, and color aren’t important factors; I’m looking for a pet that will love me as much as I will love them.

    With the borderline overzealous research I’ve done so far, the snake that has best fit my criteria is a California King. Would this be a good choice for me, or do you have a better suggestion for me to look into?

    Thank you so much for all of your time!
    -Andi

    • Hi Andi,

      I’m pretty sure I understand where you are coming from with your question, but for the sake of others who read these comments, feel obliged to ask you not to purchase your pet snake, until you can ensure that delayed feedings will not be a concern, regardless of the snake you choose. I know that life gets in the way, but would hate for anyone to think that they wouldn’t have to feed some snakes as regularly as others, to accommodate their schedules. Sorry if I sound preachy, just wanted to clarify. A Cal King (since they do live in AZ) would be a great option for you in Arizona. There is also a subspecies (Desert King) native to the state, if you want to check them out. Neither one, would require more than a 20 gallon tank, and they are generally very mild-tempered. Remember that snakes are animals that react almost entirely to survival instincts. They are not known to have a lot of intelligence, or ability to “think”. A reptile may not be the right pet, for someone looking for an animal that will show affection, since they don’t have that ability. That said, if you are happy with a snake that will tolerate handling, and wrap around your arm will you watch TV, it should be just fine. Keep up that overzealous research, and I’m confident you’ll end up with the right pet for you.

      Your Snake Buddy,

      Jamison

  71. Sinda Quietus says:

    Hello snake buddies! I was wondering what snake would be ideal for me. I have two cats, but I’d keep the snake away from them. I don’t know whether or not they’d try to attack it or if it would try to attack them. I think a corn or common king would be good. Also, the conditions of temperature where I live is mostly coldish but when it’s warm, it’s really humid. Advice?

    • Hi Sinda,

      My best advice, is to do your best to keep your pets separated as much as possible. A King or Corn snake, won’t stand a chance against a cat. The climate in your area is mostly unimportant, as you will want to create the appropriate environment in your pets enclosure. You will need to purchase a secure cage, hides, heat source etc, to recreate the environment that they require to stay healthy. Kings and Corns are typically, pretty easy to care for, so I think either option would be good for you, so long as you can provide it with what it needs.

      Hope that helps.

      Jamison

  72. Kimberly Sargent says:

    Hi, I already own a Ball Python I was wondering if Blue-eyed leucistic ball python’s are good pets. Thanks :)

  73. Chase says:

    Out of all those beautiful snakes, which one would you recommend to someone that has never had a snake?

    • Chase,

      If you read this post entirely, I’m hoping that it gave you a place to start, with answering your question. I would likely suggest A Corn Snake for most beginners, but your preferences should be a part of this decision as well. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” pet snake. Feel free to post more specific questions, and I’ll do my best to get you worthwhile answers.

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  74. bernadette says:

    hello, i am 12 years old and i have been doing a lot of research about snake’s but non of them had what i was looking for so i went to my math teacher who has a snake at school she dose not bite anyone and she is black and white striped can you tell me what type of snake that is

    sincerely,Bernadette Manchester

    • Hi Bernadette,

      The snake that your teacher has, is probably a California King Snake. They are very common in the pet trade, and are reasonably easy to care for, and mild-tempered. However, there are other snakes that could be black and white striped, so you could ask your teacher.

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  75. bernadette says:

    how do i post pictures on here

  76. bernadette says:

    hi my name is Bernadette i am 12 years old i would like to know how muck a king snake would coast

    • Price is determined by a few things, Bernadette. Do you live in the states, or in a different country? In the USA, depending on the type of Kingsnake you are looking for, I have seen Kingsnakes range in price from $20 to $100 for common varieties. I once paid $600 for one that was uncommon, that I used in a breeding project.

      Jamison

  77. Becky the animal lover! says:

    Hello Jamison!
    My name is Rebecca Leong and today is my 12 year old birthday.
    I would like to have a awesome pet snake because I am a true animal lover. My sister totally agrees with me, my dad is fine but my mom is afraid that it will attract more snakes.(We have a snake problem in the neighborhood with snakes like cobra, viper, python, diamond headed snake, etc.)
    Do snakes attract other snakes?
    I have already done lots of research and have decided on settling with a ball python. Should I get an adult or a baby? What is the best food I should feed it with?
    Should I get a pet snake with a dog in the house? a very frisky one.
    If I interact with the snake regularly, will it minus the chances of it biting, pooping, musking and snapping at me?
    Please answer these questions and if possible, add other necessary information.
    THANK YOU! :)

    • Rebecca,

      Owning a snake, will not attract more snakes to your home. Even if your snake were to “release” pheromones of some kind, Ball Pythons are from Africa, so no other snake in your neighborhood, would be attracted to it. Ball pythons do make good pets, and are not known for musking. If they feel threatened, they will typically roll up into a ball, which is how they got their name. Regular (calm) handling, will help your snake become used to being held, and it will become more relaxed over time. Your dog should be fine, so long as your snake is in a secure enclosure. I would avoid trying to get the dog to interact with the snake. Thanks for the questions.

      Jamison

  78. Becky the animal lover! says:

    Dear Jamison,
    Even though I would love to have a pet snake, some of my family members (hi mom) are afraid of the pet snake. You see, we are Christians and some of my friends says that it is bad luck to have a snake in the house because of Satan. (Can’t he possess another animal like, maybe…… a cockroach?) Anyway, Please give me an advise on how to keep a pet ball python while somehow overcoming my parents fear.
    Are there other smaller snakes that are as tame as the ball python?
    THANK YOU:)

  79. Mark says:

    I just bought a corn snake a couple days ago and honestly its my first snake and am nervous about getting bit even though ive read they don’t bite often and it don’t hurt much. but my snake is soooo beautiful also its the first one ive ever bought. plus my landlord said I couldn’t have a dog do at least its not a dog. im very happy but any reinforcement you can share to help me get over my fear will be greatly appreciated. thanks.

  80. This helped me a lot. My ten year old has wanted a snake for a few years now and I think he is finally ready (or I am ready) to get him one. This was on his Christmas list, so. Ive been researching, hoping to find one that we can both handle — okay, me being more so than him lol.

  81. Miranda says:

    My mom says I can get snake for my birthday and I’m thinking about getting a Kusinir Island Ratsnake. How big of a cage do you thing it would need? And I have two little siblings, could they be near the snake? Or do you think I should start with a different one. Please reply.

    • Miranda,

      What is it about this snake that you like, and makes you want to get one? We all have our preferences regarding size, color, and habits. These preferences have a lot to do, with the suitability of an animal we plan to keep. Have you researched this species? Generally speaking, Asian ratsnakes, like this one, tend to get fairly large (this one may reach 6 feet), and can have a bit of a feisty temperament. Are you ok with an animal that may bite you, when you hold it? Look up care sheets for this animal on-line, when you get a second, and I think you will have a better idea, if this is the snake for you. I would get a minimum of a 40 gallon cage, for this snake.

      Remember that often times, there are many species of snake, that fit certain preferences. If you can share what you are looking for, I might have other suggestions as well.

      I hope that helps!

      Jamison

  82. Kobanya says:

    This article was really informative. :D

    I’ve been wanting to get a snake for a while now, but I’ve only now gotten the space/time/money to possibly get one. I live in FL (Tallahassee) and I’m currently a graduate student, so 3/5 days I’m on campus until late in the evening. However, my sister is planning to come live with me at my apartment, so I know someone could still feed the snake.

    My only issue is that when I mentioned it to my parents, they brought up the fact that snakes eat mice (no duh) and then talked about how my godmother had misplaced a rat for her snake and it died in her car and left a terrible stink.

    So basically I’m wondering what would be the best snake that doesn’t eat live animals. I saw that you feed your snakes frozen/thawed mice, and I’m curious as to whether you keep them in a separate freezer or in a baggie in the freezer or what. Also, you wrote that hognoses eat fish, but what kind of fish? Like, fish that live in an aquarium, or fish that people eat?

    Thanks!

    • Kobanya,

      Thanks for reaching out to us. Snakes typically only eat one a week (depending on size and species), so you should have no trouble keeping your snake fed, regardless of your schedule. Most of them are also nocturnal, and will be better eaters at night anyway. Any mouse-eating snake, will eat frozen-thawed mice, with a little training. Do an on-line search for tips and tricks you can try, if your snake does not take to pre-killed food right away. I have always fed frozen-thawed, as it seems more humane for the mice, and it is decidedly safer for the snake as well. I had my own, small, dedicated mouse freezer in my garage, since my wife didn’t like the thought of keeping rodents next to the food, but most commercially sold frozen mice are well packaged and clean.

      Hog-nosed snakes eat mice also, although there are some that prefer frogs. Garter snakes and water snakes are the fish eaters, and are typically fed whole, live feeder fish from the pet store. You put them in a large water dish, and they will swim around, until the snake catches and eats them.

      Lastly, as you are in Florida, and the state has more than its fair share of invasive reptiles roaming around, I would encourage you to consider getting a native species. Corn snakes are great pets, and are native to Florida, so they will be inexpensive, and easy to keep.

      I hope that helps!

      Jamison

  83. Katie Moore says:

    Dear Jamison,
    I am 15 and have never owned a snake. When we went to a reptile expo I just fell in love with reptiles and I really want a corn snake. I have been doing a lot of research online and I think that a charcoal corn snake is a very good beginner snake. I have been in touch with our local reptile expert and he has told me that I’ve really been doing my research. I’ve read all of your article and it has helped me to become more knowledgeable :) but my parents still have to decide. I have made power presentation and have provided them with all the information I know. Is there any extra information you could give me?

    Thank you so much, awaiting your reply,
    Katie

  84. Natalie says:

    Hi I was wondering about the snake I’m about to get. I want to buy a baby bald python and already purchased a 150 gal tank. Is there such thing as to large of space? Please get back to me, thank you :)

  85. Ayla says:

    Hi there! I have read, and loved this blog! I have always loved snakes but have never had the chance to be a lucky owner of one however my chance arises! I am looking for a snake that could be kept in a 20 gallon tank once it reaches adult size. There are many little children in my house so i would really like one that would not be able to do to much damage to a small child. I would also need something easy to care for and relatively cheep, have any suggestions?

  86. nagertap315 says:

    Is it okay to get a Northern Ringneck as a beginner?

  87. Elida says:

    Thank you so much for this incredibly informative article! I’ve been in love with all pets my whole life and this past year I’ve developed an interest in snakes. I haven’t looked seriously at getting one because I was under the impression that it would be a lot of work and (too) expensive to care for, and that I wouldn’t be able to for example go on vacations or anything anymore :) Snakes are seriously ideal, and I can’t understand that I haven’t met anyone else with one yet.

    Anyway, there’s the one last thing to consider before I start saving up and getting the proper equipment for an ADORABLE corn snake, and that is, will I have to compromise with my dreams of moving around the world as long as I keep my snake? Or is it possible to bring it across borders, one way or another, as long as it’s legal in the country I move to? I’m Scandinavian and I want to consider the possibilities of for example bringing the snake to, say, Spain, in five years.
    I don’t want to just go get a snake without considering the long-term complications.

    Answer would be greatly appreciated! :) Thanks,
    Elida

    • Elida,

      Thanks so much for the great comment and questions. I am always grateful for such well thought-out considerations, when so many people make these decisions on impulse without considering long-term implications. Snakes can often live over 20 years in captivity. Your ability to travel with your snake, will depend mostly on the company you use to travel. I would check with your preferred airline for example, before showing up at the airport with your snake. They may have a strict policy preventing you from bringing it with you, and even the country you arrive at, might not let you bring it through customs. A lot of people do ship their snakes via overnight air freight companies like UPS and FedEx etc. If you decide to do this, make sure your snake is well packaged (research this on-line if you have questions), and avoid shipping during times of extreme temperatures like Winter and Summer.

      Corn snakes make great pets, and a generally very durable and easy to manage. Good luck with your new snake, and keep us updated on what you find out.

      Your SnakeBuddy,

      Jamison

  88. mingkee27 says:

    I am about to get my first snake in few months. Generally, I still lean towards king snake (I prefer albino/red eyes one); however, ball python also gets my attention because it is pretty nice to handle.
    Recently carpet python is getting more popular and catching up with corn.
    Somehow I have less interest with corn snake.
    To get successfully to handle, I found let the snake be is the most important. Don’t be afraid getting bitten because you should have expected it, and give the snake some support while handling will help it gets relaxed.

  89. Tyler says:

    Why aren’t Rosy Boas on your list? That was my first snake and I would recommend them to anyone. It is never a picky eater and doesn’t require the humidity that other boas or pythons may need.

    • Tyler,
      As mentioned in my article, it is not intended to be comprehensive or complete, and is influenced greatly by my personal preferences. Honestly, Rosy Boas are one of my favorite snakes to find in the wild and are very calm and easy to handle immediately after capture. However, the Rosy Boa is one of the most consistently prone to have a very strong feeding response in captivity, and MOST of them will readily bite their owners. I was at a buddies house last weekend, who owns a lot of locality Rosy Boas. Every single one of them tried to bite him, as soon as he opened their containers. They are not aggressive, but very hungry all of the time it seems. Biting is one of the biggest factors I considered when compiling my list. Again, sorry if your snake didn’t receive the recognition you feel it deserved, but I welcome others to share their opinions and experiences as well.

      Thanks!

      Jamison

  90. bella says:

    Hi, i am 11 years old and am trying to persuade my family to get a pet snake. We have never had a snake before so something easy to handle would be great. I don’t want anything very small(couple inches) or very big(5-6 ft) so like 2-3 ft would be perfect. What snake would you recommend??

    • Bella,
      Good luck with your search for your pet snake. Most of the snakes in my article “Best Pet Snake for a Beginner” would fit your criteria. Ball Pythons and Corn Snakes would be quite suitable, but can reach over 3 feet. However, it will take a young snake a couple of years or so, before they reach this length, and by then you and your family will have already become comfortable with it. I hope that helps a little.

      Jamison

  91. margaret says:

    I am an 11 year old girl who wants a snake really badly, but my mom is afraid of snakes.
    Are there any snakes that don’t bite, don’t constrict, and are good for beginners?

    • Margaret,
      I’m glad that you have a strong interest in snakes. They are very interesting animals. Consider your mother’s feelings first, as long as you are living in her home. You will have the ability to help her overcome her fears, but this does not happen overnight, and could potentially get worse, by bringing a snake in that she really doesn’t want you to have. I like to start with books, and casually sharing information with others. Being able to correctly and confidently answer her questions and concerns, will go a long way in helping her overcome her fear. There are some great beginner snakes like the Corn Snake or Ball Python, but please understand that EVERY snake has the ability to bite, and may do so if it feels threatened or hungry. Your chances of getting bitten are reduced greatly with proper care of your pet. The vast majority of pet snakes are constrictors as well, but other than some of the pythons of Boas, typical pet snakes, pose virtually no threat of being able to pose any significant risk to their owners. Most of them have very short teeth, that can do little more than scratch you, and these common pet snakes do not grow long enough to constrict you. Do lots of research, and share cool facts with your mom, and you may have a pet snake sooner than you think.

      Jamison

  92. Hey, your article was really helpful; I’ve wanted to get a pet snake since I was like 8 years old, but only now am I seriously considering it and doing research (my boyfriend playfully calling me psycho for it made me serious about the whole thing ^_^ ). I’ve done a bit of research and am leaning towards the corn or king snake because they’re so adorable and seem easy to manage. I just wanted to know one thing; my parents live in different countries, so I take 12 hours-long planes about four times a year… What would be, in your opinion, the best kind of snake to travel with? I’m guessing not too big or nervous…

    • Hey Maddy, thanks for the comment. Though I understand your desires and intentions in caring for your pet, air travel is an entirely different can of worms, and international travel is even a bigger consideration. Prior to getting your snake, I would recommend calling the airline that you typically fly, and asking them what options you would have for transporting your snake. I admit that I am unfortunately not very optimistic that you will be able to bring your snake along with you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. You would also need to consider either getting your cage back and forth, or purchasing cages for both places. Honestly, I would likely suggest not getting a pet unless you have someone who can care for it while you are away. I hope that helps, and wish you the best in being able to figure this one out.

      Your SnakeBuddy,

      Jamison

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