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Snakes that are commonly kept as pets

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There are over 3,000 different snake species discovered around the world. And that number is constantly changing as new discoveries are made.

However, not all snakes are kept as pets. Snakes in the families Boidae, Pythonidae, and Colubridae are the most commonly kept. Although almost any type of snake can be obtained from a reptile show or online, the most commonly kept pet snake species from these families are listed here. Many different types of snakes are kept as pets.


Red-tail boa

The red-tail boa is a type of boa constrictor that is commonly seen in the pet trade. Red-tails can reach lengths of 15 feet and grow to be around 10 feet long. They are not suitable as pets for those who are unwilling to commit to caring for a snake that eats large rats or rabbits and can live in captivity for 30 years or more.

They are distinguished by the distinct red tip on the end of their tails.

Sand Boa from Kenya

These unusual burrowing snakes can grow to be about a foot and a half long. They are typically docile snakes that burrow their entire body beneath the sand, leaving only their tiny head exposed to strike passing prey. They have beautiful yellow and brown patterns on them.


Python with a ball

The ball python, arguably the most popular pet snake, is a very even-tempered, docile snake. They only grow to be about 3-5 feet long but can live in captivity for up to 35 years. They get their name from the tight ball shape they curl up into when threatened. These snakes don’t need much heating or lighting and make excellent first snake pets, but they do have specific needs to stay healthy. More information can be found here.

The Burmese Python

These are large snakes, but they are frequently kept as pets. Burmese are usually pretty docile but a little more active than your smaller ball python, growing to be 15-20 feet long (and sometimes even longer). Feeding these beasts is not for those who are afraid of handling dead rats or other larger prey items. Burmese pythons may be better suited to adult snake owners due to their heavy weight and extreme length when fully grown.

Python of the Green Tree

Arboreal snakes add some variety to a standard snake enclosure. Green tree pythons enjoy curling up in an elegant clump and clinging to a small tree limb. As adults, they reach lengths of about 5 feet and are very bright green (sometimes with yellow or blue dots). They are frequently confused with the emerald tree boa.

The Python of Blood

The blood python is a stocky snake with lovely patterns that is known to be a little temperamental. They have short tails and can reach lengths of 6 to 8 feet. They get their name from the brick-red blotches that appear frequently in their patterns.


The King Snake

King snakes, which are related to milk snakes, grow to be about 5-7 feet long, making them a smaller pet snake. They got their name because they will readily eat other snakes, so they should be kept alone. Because king snakes are native to North America and breed frequently in captivity, finding a captive-bred pet should be simple.

The Milk Snake

The milk snake, which is a species of king snake and is most commonly seen in the pet trade, closely mimics the color patterns of the venomous coral snake (a technique known as Batesian mimicry). The band patterns found on coral and milk snakes are referenced in the popular saying, “Red on yellow will kill a fellow, but red on black is a friend of Jack.” Coral snakes have red bands that are adjacent to yellow bands, whereas milk snakes have red bands that are adjacent to black bands.

Snake, Black Rat

The rat snake, one of the plainer-looking snakes, makes up for his lack of luster with his athletic abilities. This snake is capable of swimming and climbing trees. When startled or scared, they will wrinkle their bodies to resemble rattlesnakes and even vibrate the tips of their tails. The rat snake, which is native to the central and eastern United States, constricts his prey before eating it.

The Corn Snake

The corn snake, a species of rat snake, is a popular beginner snake due to its small size, but it is also a favorite of experienced keepers due to its varying color patterns. Corn snakes, like many snakes, can grow to be about 5 feet long and are excellent escape artists. They are not known to bite and are docile snakes.