Snakes may be the most popular type of cold-blooded pets in the world, next to tarantulas. But with so many species out there, it may be difficult for you to choose which one to get. Well, luckily for you, we’re here to tell you which ones are the best kinds of snakes for a pet.
The best snake for a beginner is the Corn Snake, a friendly and docile species that is also easy to keep as a pet. The beautiful Kingsnake is also suitable for a first-time owner since it’s not too big. That said, the Ball Python is the most common pet snake, and they tend to be a very calm species.
But what else makes these the best type of snakes for a pet? What will you need to keep one of these cold-blooded animals? We have the answers to all your questions below!
The 4 Best Snake Species to Keep as Pets
Before we go through the list, we need to clear out that we’ve included snakes that are great pets for beginners. Let’s get into it!
Best Pet Snakes for a First-Time Owner
1. Corn Snake – The Friendliest Snake in the World
Considering how docile they are, there’s no wonder why the Corn Snake is one of the most common pet snakes. These species are so friendly that you can even handle them very often! The fact that they’re not venomous doesn’t hurt either.
Also called Red Rat Snake, these species feed on, you guessed it, rats, mice, and other rodents.
In captivity, you can feed these pets a frozen mouse every week when they’re adults. But please remember to thaw the mice before you offer them to the snake.
There are two versions of the origin of the name Corn Snake. Some associate these snakes with corn because they help to get rid of rats in corn plantations.
Others think the name has to do with the snakes’ colors and patterns, resembling corn kernels. But this version is harder to accept since there are many variations of colors in Corn Snakes.
These snakes can come in shades of orange or brownish-yellow with red patches on their back. Meanwhile, the belly of a Corn Snake has black and white marks like a checkerboard.
But that’s not all! Corn Snakes also vary in size. As adults, these reptiles are between three and five feet long. There are even some cases of Corn Snakes getting to be six feet long.
So, if you get a baby Corn Snake, you may want to buy the largest tank because you don’t know how long your pet will grow to be. But what else will you need to house a Corn Snake? Let’s take a look!
What You’ll Need to Keep a Corn Snake as a Pet
- A 20-gallon glass terrarium with a secured lid on the top, so the snake can’t escape. A container this big is perfect to house a snake as it grows and as a full-grown adult as well.
- Some substrate so that the snake can slide around the container and burrow. Coconut substrate is a recommended alternative because it doesn’t have many chemicals.
- Include decorating items that double as hiding spots for your pet snake. Things like rocks, barks, and branches will work. These objects also make the enclosure look more natural and better.
- An incandescent heat lamp to keep the temperature inside the tank between 80 and 85ºF. At night, the heat in the terrarium needs to drop to 75ºF.
- Get a thermometer to measure the temperature inside the snake’s tank as often as possible.
- Snakes don’t tend to need as much humidity, so a 40 to 50% level will be enough. Luckily, this is a level that’s already in most households. But, in the winter, you may have to mist the tank and change the water dish more often.
- Use an inside hygrometer to measure the humidity level as much as possible.
2. California King Snake – Beautiful and NOT Deadly
California King Snakes are also among the best pet snakes, especially for beginners. Why? Well, for starters, they come in many different patterns and colors that are all stunning! There’s even one type of California King Snake that mimics the shades of a Coral Snake.
Another name for California King Snakes is Milk Snakes, and they also come in a manageable size. An adult Milk Snake tends to be around 14 and 60 inches long.
Like Corn Snakes, California King Snakes are, for the most part, friendly and social. You can train them to let you handle them from a very young age. You only need to remember not to make sudden movements that could scare your pet!
Also, California King Snakes are not venomous. So, even if they bite you because they felt threatened, there’s no reason to worry! But still, keep in mind that they are not likely to bite humans.
When it comes to taking care of your pet Kingsnake, you will need:
- A 60-gallon tank to house the snake through all its life, including its baby and adult phases. To prevent the snake from escaping, you need to make sure there aren’t any holes in its terrarium. You can place a mesh lid on the top but secure it with clamps; these snakes are climbers!
- You must add hiding spots to allow the snake to rest during the daytime. As with most snake species, barks, rocks, leaves, and branches will do.
- Heaters under the tank to achieve the snake’s ideal temperature gradient. During the day, Kingsnakes need the heat to reach 70 or 85ªF. At night, the temperature should drop to 10 or 15ºF.
- A shallow water dish to increase the tank’s humidity will be enough. A Milk Snake only requires a 50 to 60% level of humidity.
- You’ll need some reptile carpeting or “Astroturf” kind of substrate so that the snake can move around the tank.
- Feed the snake with mice or a baby rat once a week.
3. Ball Phyton – The Most Common Pet Snake
Ball Pythons are another not venomous kind of snake. These snakes are also the most commonly owned as pets worldwide.
An adult Ball Python is around two to five feet long, but some get to be six feet long. The name of these snakes comes from their ability to constrict and adopt a ball-like shape when in danger.
Ball Pythons are also docile and friendly, although not as much as Corn or Milk Snakes. With proper care, these species can live up to 30 years, so they are a long-term type of pet.
Things you’ll need to house a Ball Python:
- Get, at least, a 30-gallon enclosure with a secured fitted top to avoid escapes.
- Astroturf substrate for the snake to slide around the bottom of its tank.
- Add some decorating items like branches, rocks, and leaves. You’ll also need to provide a dark hiding spot.
- A heat bulb to keep the temperature between 82 and 88°F during the day. At night, the heat needs to drop to 75ºF. You’ll also need a thermometer to measure the temperature often.
- Place a large water dish for the snake to soak in when it needs to.
- Offer mice or young rats to your adult snake once or twice a week. Baby Ball Pythons will need prey every five to seven days.
4. Eastern and Western Hognose Snake – Cute and Small
Hognose Snakes are among the best pet snakes because they’re between 24-36 inches. Thus, they’re not as intimidating for first-time owners and also happen to be cute and unusual!
These snakes come in different colors and patterns, but they also have a unique feature. Of course, we’re talking about the Hognose Snake’s shovel-shaped head!
That said, we do have to warn you: These snakes are venomous. But their poison is mild and has no lethal consequences on humans.
Likewise, they’re very docile, and you can handle them without fearing they’ll bite you. A Hognose Snake would have to be very stressed out to bite a human.
Another thing to consider is that these species are the most high-maintenance on the list. To keep one of these reptiles as a pet, you’ll need: Instead, they may prefer to use another defense mechanism: Playing dead.
Another thing to consider is that these species are the most high-maintenance on the list. To house a Hognose Snake, you will need:
- Since they’re not that big, a 20-gallon tank is enough to house an adult Hognose Snake. You can use shredded aspen bedding as the substrate for these reptile’s enclosure. Also, don’t forget to add rocks, branches, and hiding spots.
- The temperature of the tank should be between 77 and 88ºF during the daytime. At night, the heat should drop to between 76 and 79ºF.
- The diet of these snakes in captivity includes mice once or twice a week. A large dish with clean water is also necessary since these reptiles drink and sometimes soak in it.