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Snakes That Make Good Pets and Useful Tips to Take Care of Them

Snakes as Pets
Do reptiles intrigue you? Are you dying to have snakes as pets? Here is your online guide to pet snakes and their care.
Tulika Nair
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula)
"I've always liked reptiles. I used to see the universe as a mammoth snake and I used to see all the people and objects, landscapes, as little pictures in the facets of their scales. I think peristaltic motion is the basic life movement. Swallowing." ― Jim Morrison
If you are one of those minority people who adore reptiles with their scaly body, you are in august company. Jim Morrison, in his own words, always liked reptiles. Keeping a snake as a pet is not a choice that most people would make, but if you are thrilled by the idea, then you need to know which are the various types of snakes you can adopt as pets.
Pet Snakes: The Different Types
There are different types of snakes that have been tamed by people across the globe, but if you are a beginner, then you need to know which are the best species to have as pets. In order to choose the best snake, there are several important criteria to keep in mind, especially their adaptability to their surroundings, average size as an adult, feeding habits, health, and behavior. Given below is a list of the best snakes that you can keep as pets. Click on the pictures below to view the magnified images of the different types of pet snakes.
Corn Snakes
Corn snake
These are the most popular snakes to keep. They are an excellent choice as they are easy to care for or handle. These snakes do not get too large, and are easy to tame. They are also relatively docile. Corn snakes are extremely popular due to their beautiful coloring. These snakes belong to the genus Pantherophis.
Garter Snakes
Garter snakes
Commonly referred to as garden snakes, these are favorite with several snake lovers, as they are extremely safe to handle and are very small too. Garter snakes need a lot of compassion, and tend to behave differently when being handled as compared to when left alone. Belonging to the genusThamnophis, they are non-venomous and grow up to around 2 feet in length. If you have garden snakes, remember that they tend to prefer damp environment.
King Snakes
King snake
These are fairly docile and make great pets if you intend to breed them, as they breed easily in captivity. They grow up to 6 - 7 feet in length. These snakes belong to the genus Lampropeltis, have a long lifespan, and are cannibalistic, tending to eat snakes housed with them. They belong to a category of snakes called constrictors, i.e., they strangle their prey in order to fed on them.
Milk Snakes
Milk snake
These are closely related to king snakes. They belong to the same genus Lampropeltis, and have similar characteristics as king snakes. They breed well when they are in captivity and are easy to handle. Milk snakes are common in parts of Canada, South America, and throughout the U.S. They closely resemble the coral snake, which is one of the top 10 deadliest snakes.
Ball Pythons
Ball python
These belong to the genus Python. When ball pythons are threatened, they turn themselves into a rolled-up ball, which is why they are called so. They are docile snakes, and if cared for properly, they are known to live up to 50 years. Ball pythons grow up to about 5 feet, at a rate of 1 foot a year. They feed primarily on rodents.
Gopher Snakes
Gopher snake
They belong to the genus Pituophis, and are found largely in the western U.S. They are constrictors and hibernate in winters. They love exploring spaces and crevices, and move slowly. They reach up to 6 feet in height. Their color ranges from cream-yellow and green-gray, to tan. They are also found in black or brown colors, with reddish blotches.
There are several other snakes that are not recommended as pets, regardless of whether you are a beginner or someone who has had many pet snakes. Venomous or large snakes like cobras, rattle snakes, anacondas, and reticulated pythons are some of them. Also try to avoid snakes like boas, burmese pythons, tree boas, and water snakes.
Things to Keep in Mind While Choosing a Pet Snake
It may seem like an adventurous choice to make, but choosing a snake as a pet is an important decision that should be given due consideration. If you are enthusiastic about the idea because it makes you stand apart in the crowd, then you are probably making a choice for all the wrong reasons. There are several things about snakes to keep in mind before choosing one as a pet.
  • Make sure you are committed to your decision. The life cycle of a snake is long, and they are known to live for at least 15-20 years.
  • It is important to do your research about the kind of snake you want. There are several types of snakes that make excellent pets. It would also be a good idea to get to know their scientific names, since common names may differ from store to store.
  • A snake demands a lot of attention, and is also quite an investment. Be ready to take care of the expenses.
  • Do not opt for wild snakes, as they are prone to diseases and are difficult to care for. Instead, ensure that the breeder is well-known and gives you a captive-bred snake.
  • Ask your breeder to demonstrate feeding the snake once, as you have to ensure that it is used to eating pre-killed prey.
  • Get over your squeamishness where furry little rats are concerned, and be prepared to freeze them for your snake.
  • Ensure that you have the vivarium/enclosure in place before getting the snake. The vivarium has to be large enough to accommodate the snake when it stretches to 2/3rd of its adult body height.
  • Snakes have somehow managed to channelize Houdini, and are brilliant escape artists. Ensure that your snake's enclosure does not allow it to do so.
  • Look for signs of ill health in your snake before buying it. The snake should not be too fat or too thin. It should not be shedding when you take it home. Ensure that it flicks its tongue at regular intervals.
  • Observe the snake. It will give you a good insight about its temperament.
  • And lastly, check your city's rules and regulations to make sure if you need a license.
Pet Snake Care
You may not have your pet playing fetch or perking its ears and staring expectantly at the door as soon as you park your bike. You will not even have it enchanted by a ball of wool. But if you have decided that a snakes are for you, then it requires the same amount of care as other pets.

  • It is preferable to feed your snake pre-killed prey. Giving it a live rodent may result in a wrestling match that can cause injuries to the snake. Also, consider your convenience and the expense of breeding live animals as feed.
  • Snakes are incapable of regulating body temperature. It is essential to provide both warm and cool zones in the enclosure so that your snake remains comfortable.
  • It is always a good idea to get your pet checked for parasites before bringing him home. Always get your snake treated by a qualified vet in case you notice signs of illness.
  • Always keep clean water in the enclosure, and ensure that it is at room temperature. Your snake will need water for drinking and soaking itself.
  • Do not constantly keep handling the snake. Some species have been reported to get stressed.
  • Do not keep more than one snake in one enclosure, they are cannibalistic and solitary reptiles.
  • Do not keep a snake in a house that has children under the age of 5.
  • Develop a routine for your snake, whether this concerns the time you spend with it, or the cleaning of its enclosure.

Having snakes as pets, can probably alienate you from a lot of people, at least initially. Try and educate your friends and family about the good points of having snakes (no more rats!) and if nothing works, tell them that you just want to be another Chandler:

"If I'm gonna be an old, lonely man, I'm gonna need a thing, you know, a hook, like that guy on the subway who eats his own face. So, I figure I'll be crazy man with a snake, you know. Crazy snake man."