There are over 3,600 species of snakes. There are tiny snakes and huge snakes. There are friendly snakes, reclusive snakes, and snakes that are too aggressive to be kept as pets.
There are no vegetarian or vegan snakes, but there are snakes that don’t even want to be fed mice.
And there are snakes that are safe for brief, supervised, regular excursions outside their cages.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to 15 of the most popular breeds of pet snakes.
We want you to be well-informed so you choose a snake that is a good housemate and a fascinating pet, for which you can provide a safe and healthy home.
African House Snake
Are you looking for a snake that will be happy in a small enclosure? Consider the African House Snake.
Females of this species may only grow to be 3 feet (76 cm) long. Males grow to half of that length, just to 18 inches (38 cm).
Exceptionally large female African House Snakes are only about 4 feet (a little over a meter) and males about 3 feet (76 cm).
Even a fat and happy African House Snake can spend its life in a 20-gallon (80-liter) long aquarium or a 24-inch (60 cm) plastic tub.
And because these snakes can live to be up to 30 years old, you will have many years to create a beautiful home for them.
African House Snakes are friendly, nocturnal creatures that don’t object to being handled (as long as they have not been fed in the last day or two).
They are easy to feed. A defrosted previously frozen mouse once a week (smaller thawed mice for baby snakes) is all they need.
But do be sure to wash your hands before you feed your African House Snake so it will not mistake your fingers for its next meal.
These friendly, small snakes need a basking area under a heat lamp and a soaking area in a cooler part of the cage.
The ends of their enclosures should be about 90° and 70° F (33° and 21° C), respectively. They need a water bowl in their cage when they are shedding. But these are easy to provide.
The only challenge in owning African House Snakes is finding them. You may have to Google for a breeder if they are not available in your local pet store.
Baird’s Rat Snake
Baird’s rat snake is a native of the southwestern United States, West Texas, and northwestern Mexico.
It’s popular as an alternative to the Eastern (Gray) Rat Snake because it is more colorful, smaller, and easier to handle.
Baby Baird’s Rat Snakes are brown or gray.
As they grow older, however, they develop bright orange and yellow coloration, especially on their undersides. Occasionally there will be an albino Baird’s Rat Snake with blue eyes.
These snakes eat a diet of mostly rodents in the wild, and are happy with a diet of mice or, as their name implies, rats.
Their only unusual requirement is that their cages need to be well-ventilated.
Many people who have broad experience with keeping snakes regard Ball Pythons as the ideal pet snake.
They are a little shy and mysterious at first, but they eventually learn to enjoy being handled.
They are large enough to give their owners the tactile experience of being touched by their snakes, but they are small enough to be easy to handle.
Males grow just two or three feet (50 to 75 cm) long, while females may grow about a foot (25 cm) longer.
Intensive breeding efforts have created morphs that are pure white, yellow, black, yellow, and black (like the Bumble Bee Ball Python), lavender, and more.
Ball pythons enjoy temperatures around 85° F (29° C), but they can survive colder temperatures if they don’t have food in their stomachs.
They are relatively easy for beginners just learning how to take care of snakes.
The thing to keep in mind when you buy a Ball Python is that these snakes live for 20 to 30 years.
If you anticipate a change in lifestyle over the next 30 years, plan to rehome your snake.
Also read: How Often Do Ball Pythons Shed?
Brazilian Rainbow Boa
Brazilian Rainbow Boas have a striking orange and black coloration that will gain the admiration of even the most adamantly ophidiophobic (snake-fearing) people.
Their orange and black rosette pattern and its iridescent sheen are alluringly beautiful.
Brazilian Rainbow Boas are usually considered the largest snake anyone new to keeping snakes should try.
The 8-inch (20 cm) baby boa you buy at the pet store will be about 6 feet (2 meters) long when it is mature.
They do better in plastic enclosures than in glass, and they need something to climb on to stay healthy.
There is also an even more beautiful orange and red Argentinian Rainbow Boa Constrictor, but it is very hard to find.
Corn Snakes are colorful, gentle, affordable, and easy to care for. They are easy to breed in captivity, in case you want more.
They are beautiful to look at. Sometimes Corn Snakes are called “Red Rat Snakes” because of their coloring, but there are many morphs, mostly in shades of orange.
Corn Snakes aren’t always sold in prime condition.
To have the best possible experience with your Corn Snake, you should take these considerations into account before you take a Corn Snake home?
- Does the Corn Snake seem nervous? It’s normal for a hatchling to become anxious when it is approached by a big, formidable object, like your hand or the tongs you use to give it food, but an adult Corn Snake should be friendly toward humans.
- Can you hear the Corn Snake breathing? Any kind of gasping, wheezing, or gurgling suggests it has a respiratory infection. You absolutely do not want to bring this Corn Snake home if you have other snakes.
- Are there any “bugs” attached to the Corn Snake? Use your hands to inspect the Corn Snake’s entire body for parasites, especially around the orifices.
- Are there any obvious physical irregularities? Healthy Corn Snakes are muscular and active. They should be lying limp in a cage. Their ribs should not be visible, and their bodies should not have any kinks or irregularities. If physical abnormalities are present, you will find yourself having to take care of a sick snake.
- Did the owner keep any records? It helps to know how often the snake eats, what kind of feeder rodent it likes, how often it eats, the temperature of the food it will eat (how recently it has been defrosted), and what time of day it has the best appetite.
Corn Snakes have legendary climbing abilities.
They can squeeze themselves through a hole as small as 1/8 inch (3 mm) in diameter.
Baby Corn Snakes can often escape from cages designed for adults, especially if they have any sliding doors.
Corn Snakes like to squeeze into dark, tight places when they are resting. A hole into which the Corn Snake can barely fit provides it with the greatest feeling of security.
Gopher snakes are easy to find. They are easy to care for.
They are non-venomous. And they are popular because of one important feature: They are a lot of fun to watch.
Unfortunately, gopher snakes in the wild are often mistaken for Pacific Rattlesnakes because of their coloring and behavior.
Fortunately for people who own them, a gopher snake in a cage is a great conversation starter.
Gopher snakes will often rear back and lunge at people. They will issue a warning by bopping you with their nose.
Like a rattlesnake, they will also shake their tails. However, they do not have rattles, and they usually do not bite.
One thing to consider before buying a gopher snake is the size of its enclosure.
They do best in an escape-proof enclosure that is at least four feet (1.3 meters) long. And they may reach the age of 30.
This sassy and dramatic snake with an upturned nose is irresistibly entertaining to many reptile hobbyists.
Hognose Snakes may flatten their heads like cobras as they hiss through their open mouths in warning that a strike is imminent. (It usually isn’t.)
These snakes may rollover with their mouths open and their tongues folding.
Or they may with their heavily keeled snout but with their mouths closed. Or when they can’t think of anything else, they may just play dead.
Hognose Snakes are more bluff than bite. However, when they are hungry, they may come at you with their mouths open as if to say “Feed me! Feed me now!”
Because Hognose Snakes attack their food from any angle they can, not just head-on, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of giving them their food with tongs.
Milk Snakes are some of the most beautiful snakes in the world.
Because they are active during the day, they are easy to appreciate while they crawl and climb around their enclosures.
Native from Southeastern Canada to South America, these colorful snakes display red, yellow, black, and sometimes white bands of color that mimic poisonous snakes such as the coral snake.
Milk Snakes themselves are non-venomous, although other animals and people leave them alone because of their similarity to deadly snakes.
Honduran Milk Snakes offer the greatest number of morphs, snakes in different patterns and colors.
There is only one Milk Snake that does not have bands of color. It lives in a part of the Eastern United States where there are no coral snakes. It resembles a rattlesnake.
Milk Snakes are popular among beginning snake enthusiasts who have heard that they stay small.
That’s true of some species of Milk Snakes that grow only 2 feet (0 cm) long. However, there are other species of Milk Snakes that grow up to 5 feet (1.25 meters) long.
Baby Milk Snakes are unusually squirmy.
Adult Milk Snakes are skilled escape artists.
Keeping them securely in their enclosures is important for their survival, since an escaped non-venomous Milk Snake may be easily mistaken for a potentially deadly coral snake.
California Kingsnakes are a hardy snake that is native to California and northwestern Mexico.
They are notorious escape artists, and they are also known to feed on each other if two or more snakes are left alone in their cages.
At first, California Kingsnakes don’t like to be handled, but after you have fed them several times, they don’t mind being held.
There are a number of morphs of California Kingsnakes.
The basic pattern is brown or black with cream, yellow, or white bands. But there are morphs in many colors and patterns including:
- Banana Newport
- Black and White Striped
- Blue-Eyed Blond
- Casper Ghost
- CB Newport
- Charcoal Black
- Chocolate Banana
- Chocolate Black Newport
- Chocolate Ghost
- Coral Ghost
- Corwin Hypo
- Dark Phase Ghost
- Half and Half
- Het Palomar Ghost
- High Yellow Banana
- High White
- Lavender Albino
- Lavender Snow
- Light Phase Ghost
- Merker Hypo
- Newport Mud
- Palomar Ghost
- Pink Pearl Ghost
- Mojave 50/50
- Mosaic Palomar Ghost
- Newport-Long Beach
- Purple Passion
- Reverse Dotted
- Reverse Stripe
- Reverse Wide Stripe
- Sapphire Ghost
- Scrambled Banded Newport
- Twin Dotted
- Twin Striped
- Vanishing Stripe
- Whitewater Hypo
Children’s Python (Spotted Python)
Possessing a calm demeanor and only growing 2 to 4 feet (50 cm to 1 meter) long, Children’s Pythons seem to be the python bred to be children’s pets.
Actually, this snake was named after John George Children, the Australian snake explorer who first reported it in the science journals.
Children’s Pythons are known for their ability to crawl into caves, hang upside down off stalactites, and catch bats in mid-flight.
They love to climb in their enclosures as long as the lights are dim. They also like to hide in real artificial plants you put in their cages.
Otherwise, they tend to hide except when they are hungry, which is only once every one to two weeks.
Garter snakes are the most common snake in the world. Chances are that you have seen one in the wild.
They have excellent eyesight, and they are alert and active during the day. They stay watchful of their habitat around their enclosure.
Garter snakes tend to be “bitey” when they are young. They require UV light for good health.
You will need to place a full-spectrum light at one end of their cage. It’s not a good idea to keep more than one garter snake in a cage, or at feeding time they will feed on each other.
If you don’t like feeding rodents to your snakes, a garter snake is a good choice These small snakes also eat fish, worms, and insects.
Tarahumara (Mexican) Boa Constrictor
Tarahumara Boa Constrictors are natives of the mountains of northwestern Mexico.
They are one of the babies of the Boa Constrictor family, growing just 4 feet (1.3 meters) long. They enjoy climbing in their enclosures, especially when they are young.
Baby Tarahumara Boa Constrictors tend to have “attitude.” They will be aggressive when handled. Some Tarahumara Boas become docile as they get older.
Others do not. But if you want to start your experience with boa constrictors with a snake that stays at a manageable length, a Tarahumara Boa Constrictor is a good choice.
Woma Pythons are natives of the red sand deserts of central Australia. They stand out in a display because of their tiger-like markings.
They have tiny heads that they use as a lure to attract their prey, their jaws later unhinging to swallow.
Woma pythons They are unlike other pythons in that they squish their prey instead of strangling it.
Woma Pythons are popular because they stay at a manageable size. Full-grown Woma Pythons will be under 6 feet (2 meters).
Snake hobbyists also like Woma Pythons because they aren’t finicky eaters.
Woma Pythons eat lizards in the wild, but rodents will be fine in captivity. They appreciate rocks and crevices in their enclosures to hide in, but they come out at night.
The only tricky part of taking care of a Woma Python is making sure not to overfeed it. Adult Woma Pythons only need to eat every 10 to 14 days.
Two Things Everyone Needs to Know Before Buying a Snake
In closing, we’ll address two points that apply to all the snakes we have mentioned.
Every snake is a carnivore. All the snakes we have listed eat mice. You should never feed them live mice, because the mice may fight back.
And you should not have two snakes in the same enclosure at feeding time. They may miss their mouse and bite each other.
Snakes won’t let go of their food once they have started to eat.
The other thing future snake parents need to know is that all snakes are cold-blooded and need a heat supply.
You will need an electric heat source (and sometimes a UV light source) plus a thermometer to make sure you are keeping your snake in the right temperature range.
But once you have set up your snake’s terrarium, there is very little work to do other than cleaning up a few days after every meal.
You can even make your snake’s enclosure the focal point of your house.
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