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How to Select the Right Pet Snake for You

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Snakes are fascinating animals that, with proper handling, can be quite tame as pets. However, snakes are not suitable pets for everyone. They have special needs and should only be cared for by those who are committed to meeting those needs. If you’re new to pet snakes, learn what you should think about before getting one and which species are the best snakes for beginners.

Considerations Before Getting a Snake as a Pet

  • When choosing a snake as a pet, keep in mind that you are making a long-term commitment because many species can live for more than 20 years.
  • You must be willing to feed prey animals to your snake (though previously frozen, pre-killed prey is the safest option), and you will almost certainly need freezer space for frozen prey items (i.e., rodents).
  • Because snakes are excellent escape artists, you must ensure that your enclosure is escape-proof. Snakes are relentless in their search for and squeeze through any small gaps.
  • Despite their beauty, large constricting snakes and venomous snakes should not be kept as pets due to safety concerns.
  • If at all possible, purchase a captive-bred snake from a reputable breeder. Wild-caught snakes are more stressed, more prone to parasites and disease, and more difficult to tame.

Purchase a Healthy Snake

  • Perform a cursory exam on your snake to look for signs of illness, such as bubbles coming out of the nose, retained skin, closed eyes, and mouth rot.
  • Request a feeding demonstration to ensure that your new snake readily accepts pre-killed prey and eats well. Ball pythons are notorious for having feeding issues, so this is an especially good idea for them.

Recommended Snakes for Beginners

These snakes are all reasonably sized, relatively easy to care for, and quite docile as pets. Because they are so popular, they are also easy to find from a breeder or at a reptile show:

  • Corn serpents
  • Milk and King snakes
  • Pythons (ball)
  • Hognose serpents