Are you looking for a pet snake that will cuddle without giving you that look that says ‘you’re its next meal’?
Do you want a snake that might give you an affectionate bop with its nose or maybe a loving kiss, without getting bitey?
If you are, the good news is that we have ten options in snakes that don’t bite for you in this article.
Snake breeders have been selecting snakes for gentleness, as well as for exotic morphs in every imaginable color and pattern as well as size.
If you get your snake from a reputable breeder, there are eight kinds of snakes that almost never bite: Ball Pythons, California King Snakes, Corn Snakes, Kenyan Sand Boas, Rosy Boas, Rubber Boas, Sunbeam Snakes, and Western Hognose Snakes.
Note that these snakes are not biters. They are known to be non-aggressive and friendly. But in case a snake feels threatened, it will resort to biting.
There are also two kinds of hard-to-find pet snakes that never bite—because they don’t have teeth! These are the African Eggeater and the Indian Egg Eating Snake.
Could one of these snakes have a future in your terrarium? Let’s look at the details for each species so you can decide.
Ball Pythons usually don’t bite because they have an alternative method of defense. They roll up into a ball.
It is possible to roll a balled-up Ball Python down a flat path like a basketball. But don’t abuse your snake this way.
Respect your Ball Python’s need for a defensive posture when it rolls itself into a ball.
When handling Ball Pythons, it is important not to startle your snake.
Start by giving your Ball Python a gentle touch on its back, toward the middle of its body, not the head or tail, while it is still safe in its enclosure.
Give your Ball Python a chance to detect your scent.
If your Ball Python is in the mood, pick it up gently by the middle of its body, and then slowly and confidently pick it up into your arms.
Then allow your snake to explore your body.
Never hold on to your Ball Python tightly. This will cause a defensive reaction, which will be squeezing you.
If your Ball Python hisses, raises its head above its coiled body, or nips at you, leave it in its cage and try again another day.
Ball Pythons sometimes reject human contact when they are digesting their food (which can take several days) or when females are about to lay eggs.
California King Snake
A California King Snake can bring excitement into your family’s life—when it escapes its cage.
California King Snakes make great pets if you make sure you have them in a comfortable, escape-proof cage .
Their ability to find their way out of their cages is balanced by their ability to adapt to different kinds of setups, and they have a peppy, friendly personality.
Also, they come in dozens of morphs and colors.
You need to know upfront that juvenile California King Snakes can be “fighty.” In nature, they have to scrap for hard-to-find food.
After you have fed your new California King Snake a few times, it will calm down.
Throughout its life, however, the only time it is likely to bite you is when you are feeding it.
It only eats every few weeks, so it gets very excited about food.
Use tongs to give your California King Snake its meals so it won’t nip at your fingers as an appetizer.
Corn Snakes are easy to find in reptile stores and at reptile shows. They are inexpensive.
They are easy to care for. Unlike some other gentle snakes, they don’t need special lighting. They come in at least 800 morphs, and they almost never bite.
Corn Snakes enjoy being handled once they get used to their enclosure, which may take a month or so.
Unlike most other snakes, Corn Snakes are inquisitive.
They like to observe the world outside their cage. They also are skilled at communicating with body language:
- When your Corn Snake is hissing and shaking its tail, it is telling you that it feels threatened. These behaviors are your snake’s way of telling you “Stay away!”
- When your Corn Snake flicks its tongue, it’s just collecting tiny particles from the air to smell them. This is how it knows you are you. But you don’t have to get in its face to be recognized.
Kenyan Sand Boa
Kenyan Sand Boas are easy-going. They don’t have venom.
They aren’t likely to bite people unless you haven’t fed them in a while.
They sometimes bite when they are looking for their next meal.
Of course, rough handling can result in your snake defending itself the only way it knows how, by biting you.
Kenyan Sand Boas like to sniff you before you pick them up.
They need to detect your scent to know that you are that strange two-legged animal that feeds them, not some other animal coming to eat them.
After your Kenyan Sand Boa has had an opportunity to confirm that the person approaching their enclosure is you, it’s OK to pick them up.
Pick them up by their midsection, the heaviest part of their bodies. Picking them up by the neck or tail can injure them.
The Rosy Boa is a native of the American Southwest and northern Mexico.
It is smaller than other Boas, and it has the unusual habit of killing prey by squeezing it against its body rather than inside a coil.
Young Rosy Boas take a few months to get used to being handled. During this time, it’s best just to touch them on their midsections without picking them up.
If your young Rosy Boa hisses or draws away from you, touch it gently with a hook, without picking it up, to get it used to be touched.
Even after Rosy Boas become accustomed to handling, it’s always best to “say hello,” just rubbing them for a minute or two before picking them up.
It’s always best to avoid startling this snake.
Rubber Boas aren’t pretty snakes, but they make up for their lack of coloration with a great personality.
They’re slow, they’re gentle, and they seem to like being held.
Many people who have experience with many kinds of snakes report that Rubber Boas have been the easiest to handle.
You almost certainly won’t have problems handling your Rosy Boa.
However, getting them to eat the rodents you can find at a pet supply store can be a major problem.
The first time you see a Sunbeam, you may react with “This is the most beautiful snake ever!”
Sunbeams have skin that includes every color of the rainbow.
They are small, and because of that, they are shy. They are non-venomous, and they are not aggressive.
Sunbeams like to spend most of their time in their burrows, so you may have to coax it out so it can learn it’s not going to get hurt when you handle it.
Don’t get a Sunbeam, however, if you aren’t prepared to give it an enclosure that can keep it healthy.
Sunbeams need warm and steamy conditions like those of their native Indonesia.
Most Sunbeams were caught in the wild and have a stressful beginning to their lives, so be sure to be gentle with them.
Western Hognose Snake
If you are looking for a snake with personality, check out Western Hognose Snakes.
Western Hognose Snakes have great acting skills.
They can flatten their necks like a Cobra. if that doesn’t work, they may just roll on their sides and stick their tongues out at you. Or they may play dead.
Western Hognose Snakes and also rear back and strike from 18 inches away. But when they strike, they will almost always just hit you with their upturned nose.
Western Hognose Snakes almost never bite after they get used to being handled. Give your Western Hognose Snake at least two weeks to get used to its enclosure.
Feed it three or four times. Then try handling it gently for a few minutes at a time, building to about 20 minutes after a month or so.
Full disclosure: Western Hognose Snakes are mildly venomous. But their venom will only cause an itch or a sting in people.
Often there will be no reaction at all.
But it is toxic to worms and lizards that the Western Hognose Snake digs up with its upturned nose.
African Egg Eating Snake and Indian Egg Eater
These snakes consume small bird eggs whole.
Both of these snakes are a little hard to find, but these are the only snakes on our list that can never bite.
Once they get the egg in their throats, spikes come down from their spine to crush it, and later the snake regurgitates the shells.
You never have to feed mice to these snakes. In fact, they aren’t capable of eating mice.
Egg-eating snakes are usually imported. They go through the stress of being captured in the wild on another continent and shipped in a box to your pet store or a reptile show.
Give them a month to get used to their new homes, and make sure they have something to climb on in their enclosures.
Make sure they have fresh water.
If you give your Egg Eater time to recuperate from its trip to your home, it can be socialized for easy handling.
How to Prevent Snake Bites
Any snake that has teeth can bite, even these eight gentle snakes we described above.
And if your snake bites another family member, or a neighbor, or a curious kid from next door, there can be legal repercussions for you and your snake.
Don’t put your snake in a situation in which it feels it has to defend itself by biting.
Follow these simple rules:
- Give your snake time to get used to new surroundings before you try to pick it up. Snakes will be more comfortable with handling when they are comfortable with and used to their enclosures. Wait at least two weeks after you put your snake in its new home before handling it.
- Approach your snake from the side, not the head. Predators that eat snakes will approach them head first. Your snake will regard being approached from the side as less threatening.
- Don’t grab your snake by the neck. Support it from the middle of its body so it will feel more comfortable.
- Go slow with snake handling sessions. Start with a five-minute session. If that goes well, play with your snake for 10 minutes the next time. Gradually increase the amount of time you interact with your snake to about 20 minutes, making sure it is not exposed to excessive heat or cold or threatened by larger pets (and it doesn’t threaten your smaller pets).
- Make sure any children in your home know these rules.
So these are 10 snakes that don’t bite and are known to be good options for people looking to keep a pet snake.
Other articles you may also find useful: