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The Best Snakes For Beginners To Keep As Pets

by Martha Simmonds

Many people want snakes as pets, and while this may tend to freak some people out, the truth is that in many ways snakes make the perfect pet. Snakes are low-maintenance, are much more social than many people think, and they make a great way for kids to learn about wildlife. And there are other benefits as well.


Each and every year, tens of thousands of people choose snakes as their pets, and there is little wonder why. Snakes only have to be fed once or twice a week and can be very comforting, friendly animals. Of course, just like other pets, you have to know what you’re getting yourself into, so a little research into snakes is always recommended before you rush out to the pet store.

Although low-maintenance, you still have to take care of snakes and keep their terrariums nice and clean. In addition, not all snakes make great pets, and if you want tips on how to find the best snakes for beginners, keep reading because below are four of them that do, in fact, make good pets for those who have never owned one before.

1. Corn Snakes

Corn snakes, also known as Pantherophis guttatus, are native to North America and are actually in the rat snake family. They make great pets for several reasons. First and foremost, they are one of the most docile and friendly snakes out there, which means it is easy to learn to love them.

Corn snakes are easily accessible because there are tons of them, and you can even find them yourself in certain areas of the country. They are easy to maintain and low-maintenance, and they won’t cost you a lot of money, which is a big plus for those on a budget.

Best of all, these types of snakes are easy to handle and very safe, regardless of who is around them. Like other snakes, however, they can and do bite occasionally, but they are not a poisonous variety of snakes so most people just take care of the bite and move on.

When they’re in the wild, corn snakes are found mostly in the Midwest and southeastern parts of the country. They are usually found in areas that are wooded and grassy. Not only that, but they are a great way to reduce the rodent population because this is an animal they love to feast on!

When the corn snake is fully grown, its typical length is 40 inches, although some have been known to grow as long as 60 inches. If you get your corn snake from a breeder, ask him how long your snake should grow because he’ll have a better idea of this number. Typically, corn snakes cost $20 to $40 USD.

The pros and cons of owning a corn snake include:


• They are easy to feed
• They offer lots of colors and patterns when they morph
• They are easy to find


• They live a very long time – usually around 20 years
• Some people just don’t like the look of this snake
• They aren’t as unique or exotic as some other snakes are

2. Hognose Snake

There are several varieties of the hognose snake, including the eastern and western hognose, which are the only two types recommended for beginners because other varieties tend to grow way too large. Typically, eastern and western hognose snakes grow 24 to 36 inches in length, which is manageable for beginners.

Also known as the Heterodon, the hognose snake is native to North America, and if you’re considering choosing this type you’ll need to find out two things. First, they can be finicky eaters and, therefore, you should ask the breeder if the snake has been acclimated to its feeding. Second, they need a regular light schedule so you should do some research on their heat and lighting needs.

Hognose snakes are also very unique-looking because they have a turned-up snout. They also come in many different morphs, which means you’ll find them in a variety of patterns and colors. Their looks, in fact, are one of the reasons so many people choose this snake as a pet.

One important fact to remember about hognose snakes: they are technically venomous, but the good news is that their venom is mild and has little to no effect on humans. If you’re bitten, just tend to the bite and let it heal properly. Some of their pros and cons include:


• They are adorable snakes!
• They are friendly with a lot of personality
• They do not get very big


• They can be finicky eaters when they’re young
• They need more humidity and lighting than other snakes
• They aren’t good for people who want large, long snakes

3. California King Snake

The Cali king snake is popular for numerous reasons; for instance, with their black-and-white design, they look super-cool. They are native to North America and widely available. But if you choose this type of snake as a pet, don’t put it together with another snake because it may decide to eat its new roommate!

Some snake enthusiasts keep more than one Cali king snake, but these are usually professionals who know how to keep all of their snakes safe. For beginners, it is a must to keep each Cali snake away from all other snakes, including other Cali king snakes!

The Lampropeltis getula californiae, or California king snake, also has cool patterns and is available in several different designs and color patterns. They are friendly, social, and very active, making for a great pet indeed.

One thing you do have to watch out for, though, is that these snakes are little escape artists. They’ve even been known to push through the mesh in their terrarium and escape, which can be a little disconcerting for other members of your family. When you have a Cali king, it’s always important to keep all potential “escape routes” covered in their terrarium!

Cali king snakes can be three to four feet in length and occasionally get up to around five feet long. Here are some of the pros and cons to owning one of these snakes:


• Easy to feed because they are good eaters
• Easy to maintain and take care of
• They are very social and friendly


• Not much variety in colors and patterns
• They are cannibalistic and cannot be paired with other snakes
• They may try to escape, and may even succeed

4. Ball Python

Although not super easy to take care of, the ball python – or the Python Regius – is still a good pet for beginners for other reasons. Ball pythons are docile, not very active, and they stay calm and relaxed most of the time. If you want a snake that isn’t too hyper, this is definitely a snake to consider.

Ball pythons are native to sub-Saharan Africa and are one of the shortest pythons out there, usually getting between 36 and 58 inches when they are fully grown. However, their girth makes up for that because they can be quite thick and wide. Their size is definitely one of the things that makes them great for beginning snake owners.

The ball python comes in a variety of morphs, which means you can enjoy them in many different colors and patterns. In fact, there are more than 500 different morphs for ball pythons, so they truly offer something for everyone. Although they typically cost $40 to $50, some morphs are so rare that the seller can get thousands of dollars for them.

Ball pythons also like to hide even when they’re in their terrarium, and they never require a lighting schedule, which means you can use a simple heating mat to regulate the temperature in the terrarium. Although their overall demeanor makes them easy to care for, this isn’t the type of snake you should choose if you want a very social and active pet.

If you’re still not convinced that the ball python makes a great pet snake for beginners, consider their pros and cons, which include:


• They come in tons of colors and patterns
• They are calm and easy to handle
• They are super easy to feed


• They aren’t as friendly as some other snakes
• They are very large girth-wise, so they are not technically “small”
• They are so docile that they hide a lot of the time


Most snakes are relatively easy to take care of, but that doesn’t mean they are all good for beginners. Learning which ones are the best snakes for beginners helps you determine which one is best for you. After all, just like people, snakes each have their own personality, so it’s important to find one with whom you are compatible!

It’s also important to do your due diligence because you want to make sure that you get the right snake and that having a snake is really something you’re prepared to do.

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