Choosing The Right Kind Of Snake

So, you've gone to the pet store or talked to breeders and you're totally excited to buy a new friend and take it home. Before you go overboard and get caught up in the fun of having a snake, you should consider what kind you are going to buy. When first starting out with snakes, you want to choose a type of snake that is good for beginners. If you get a snake that requires more advanced care, you may end up being overwhelmed. Plus, these snakes are harder to find a new home for if you want to get rid of them because very few people may be qualified to properly take care of them. Here I will provide a list of a few starter snakes and information on each to help you choose which one might be the best for you. I will also tell you some snakes that people like, but are more advanced, so you should probably hold off on buying.

Ball Python (also Royal Python)
This is my personal recommendation for a good beginner snake. I have had several of these and have had very few problems with them. They tend to be very calm and rarely bite unless they are provoked. They are also fairly slow moving snakes. We would often let ours sit out while we worked in the house and it would just curl up and hang out (although you should never leave a snake unattended). I would recommend buying one that is slightly older (i.e. not a hatchling) because they are much more likely to survive and to eat well. Don't buy a wild caught snake, they can be hard to tame and are much less likely to eat regularly. These snakes eat mostly mice (but some prefer birds) and only grow to be 4 or 5 feet long. Just remember that this is a long commitment, because these snakes can live to be 30 years old if cared for properly.

Corn Snakes
These are good starter snakes because they are readily available and also stay fairly small. This also means they eat less food and require a smaller tank for proper care. These snakes are fairly calm and are generally very good eaters (in case you don't want to have to worry about tricking your snake into eating). They also can be kept in many environments, so they are less likely to get ill from an improper environment (but a responsible owner should try to keep them as comfortable as possible).

Milk Snakes
These snakes are small and easy to maintain. They require a dry environment with little light, so you don't have to worry about keeping up the humidity or turning the lights on and off. They do just fine with alternative heating sources, but you will need some light if you're keeping live plants. Just remember that milk snakes are gifted escape artists, so you need to provide a very secure environment to keep them from wandering away.

Reticulated Pythons, Common Or Red Tailed Boas, Rock Pythons, Burmese Pythons
While some of these snakes (especially the boas) can be quite tame, they are still quite large. A full grown reticulated python requires several people to be handled safely. Even if proper precautions are taken, there is little you could do to stop the snake if they decided to constrict. Plus, even if they don't usually bite, a bite from a snake that large is much harder to care for than one from a small snake. They also require very large enclosures and the food is generally quite pricey.

Rainbow Boas, Emerald Tree Boas, Green Tree Pythons
While these snakes do not get very large, they don't always have very good temperaments and could do a lot of biting depending on the snake. These snakes can also be very fast and hard to handle outside of their tank.

These are just a few recommendations; you don't need to limit yourself. Just be sure to do as much research as you can on the snake you decide to get. Know before you buy what care they require and be sure you are able to provide it.

Good luck and have fun with your new friend!

General Information
General Snake Care
Breeding Snakes
Setting Up a Habitat
Buying a Snake
Sick Snake Care
Feeding Your Snake
Choosing The Right Kind Of Snake
What To Do If Your Snake Won't Eat
Keeping A Healthy Snake
How To Hibernate Your Snake


Snake Specific Advice
Ball Pythons
Boa Constrictors
Bull Snakes
Burmese Pythons
Corn Snakes
Emerald Tree Boas
Green Tree Pythons
King Snakes
Milk Snakes
Brazilian Rainbow Boas
Rat Snakes
Red Tailed Boas
Reticulated Pythons
Rock Pythons
Rosy Boas
Rubber Boas
Rubber Boas
Sand Boas
Water Snakes