Search
Close this search box.

20 Friendly Pet Snakes For Beginners

Are you interested in owning a pet snake, but not sure where to start? With so many species of snakes to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to bring home. However, there are many friendly and easy-to-care-for pet snakes that are great for beginners. In this article, we’ll cover 20 of the best pet snakes for those who are new to snake ownership.

Here is a quick list

  1. Corn Snake – Corn snakes are a popular pet snake for beginners because they are docile, easy to handle, and come in a variety of colors.
  2. Ball Python – Ball pythons are another great choice for beginners. They are friendly, slow-moving, and have a mild temperament.
  3. Garter Snake – Garter snakes are a small, colorful species that are easy to care for and make great pets.
  4. Rosy Boa – Rosy boas are a gentle, slow-moving snake that are easy to handle and come in a variety of colors.
  5. King Snake – King snakes are a popular pet snake that are known for their docile temperament and ease of care.
  6. Milk Snake – Milk snakes are a colorful, docile species that are easy to handle and make great pets.
  7. California Kingsnake – California kingsnakes are a popular pet snake that are known for their gentle disposition and ease of care.
  8. Kenyan Sand Boa – Kenyan sand boas are a small, docile species that are easy to handle and make great pets.
  9. Hognose Snake – Hognose snakes are known for their unique appearance and docile temperament, making them a great choice for beginners.
  10. Children’s Python – Children’s pythons are a small, docile species that are easy to handle and make great pets.
  11. Western Hognose Snake – Western hognose snakes are a popular pet snake that are known for their quirky personality and ease of care.
  12. Rough Green Snake – Rough green snakes are a small, docile species that are easy to handle and make great pets.
  13. Gray-Banded King Snake – Gray-banded king snakes are a docile species that are easy to handle and make great pets.
  14. Corn Snake – Pueblan Milk Snake – Pueblan milk snakes are a colorful species that are easy to care for and make great pets.
  15. Rat Snake – Rat snakes are a popular pet snake that are known for their docile temperament and ease of care.
  16. Black Rat Snake – Black rat snakes are a docile species that are easy to handle and make great pets.
  17. Pine Snake – Pine snakes are a popular pet snake that are known for their gentle disposition and ease of care.
  18. Nelson’s Milk Snake – Nelson’s milk snakes are a docile species that are easy to handle and make great pets.
  19. Spotted Python – Spotted pythons are a small, docile species that are easy to care for and make great pets.
  20. Dumeril’s Boa – Dumeril’s boas are a docile species that are easy to handle and make great pets.

The corn snake

(Pantherophis guttatus) is a popular species of pet snake that is native to the southeastern United States. They are known for their docile temperament, ease of care, and beautiful colors and patterns. Corn snakes can grow up to 6 feet long, but are usually between 3 and 5 feet in length. They are typically fed a diet of rodents, and can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care. Corn snakes are a great choice for beginners and experienced snake owners alike, and are often recommended as a first pet snake due to their ease of care and gentle disposition.

Ball Python

The ball python (Python regius) is a popular species of pet snake that is native to central and western Africa. They are known for their docile temperament, slow movement, and relatively small size. Ball pythons can grow up to 4-5 feet in length, but are usually around 2-3 feet long. They are typically fed a diet of rodents, and can live for up to 30 years in captivity with proper care. Ball pythons are a great choice for beginners due to their ease of care, but are also popular among experienced snake owners due to their unique morphs and patterns. They are often recommended as a first pet snake because of their gentle nature and low maintenance requirements.

Garter Snake

Garter snakes are a group of species of small, slender, and harmless snakes that are found throughout North and Central America. They are known for their colorful markings and stripes, and are often kept as pets. Garter snakes are relatively easy to care for, and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They typically eat a diet of insects, fish, and amphibians, and can live for up to 10 years in captivity with proper care. Garter snakes are active and curious, and enjoy exploring their environment. They are also generally docile and tolerate handling well, making them a good choice for children or those who are new to snake ownership.

Rosy Boa

King Snake

King snakes are a group of non-venomous snakes that are found throughout North and Central America. They are known for their bold and distinctive markings, which often include rings or stripes. King snakes are popular as pets due to their docile nature, ease of care, and striking appearance. They typically eat a diet of rodents, but will also consume other snakes and reptiles in the wild. King snakes can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care, and are a good choice for beginner and experienced snake owners alike. They are generally hardy and tolerate handling well, and are also relatively active and curious. However, some species of king snakes can grow quite large, so it is important to research the specific species before bringing one home as a pet.

Milk Snake

Milk snakes are a non-venomous species of snake that are found throughout North and Central America. They are known for their bright and bold coloration, which can include shades of red, black, and white. Milk snakes are popular as pets due to their docile nature, ease of care, and unique appearance. They typically eat a diet of rodents, but will also consume lizards and other snakes in the wild. Milk snakes can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care, and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They are generally hardy and tolerate handling well, and are also relatively small, with adults reaching lengths of 2-5 feet. It is important to note that milk snakes can resemble the venomous coral snake, so it is important to research the specific species and its markings before bringing one home as a pet.

California Kingsnake

The California kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae) is a non-venomous species of snake that is native to the western United States. They are known for their striking black and white banding, which gives them a distinct appearance. California kingsnakes are popular as pets due to their docile nature, ease of care, and unique appearance. They typically eat a diet of rodents, but will also consume other snakes and reptiles in the wild. California kingsnakes can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care, and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They are generally hardy and tolerate handling well, and are also relatively small, with adults reaching lengths of 3-4 feet. California kingsnakes are also known for their escape artist tendencies, so it is important to provide a secure enclosure for them.

Kenyan Sand Boa

The Kenyan sand boa (Eryx colubrinus) is a small, non-venomous species of snake that is native to East Africa. They are known for their unique, stocky appearance and docile temperament, which make them popular as pets. Kenyan sand boas are relatively easy to care for and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They typically eat a diet of rodents, and can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care. Kenyan sand boas are relatively small, with adults reaching lengths of 2-3 feet, and are also known for their burrowing behavior. They tolerate handling well, but can be shy and prefer to spend much of their time hiding in their substrate. Overall, Kenyan sand boas are a good choice for those looking for a unique and easy-to-care-for pet snake.

Hognose Snake

Hognose snakes are a group of non-venomous species of snake that are found throughout North and South America. They are known for their unique, upturned nose and docile temperament, which make them popular as pets. Hognose snakes are relatively easy to care for and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They typically eat a diet of rodents, but will also consume amphibians and lizards in the wild. Hognose snakes can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care. They are also relatively small, with adults reaching lengths of 2-3 feet. Hognose snakes have a reputation for playing dead when threatened, which can make them entertaining to watch. They are generally hardy and tolerate handling well, but it is important to note that some species of hognose snakes have a mild venom that is not harmful to humans.

Children’s Python

The rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata) is a small, docile species of snake that is native to the southwestern United States and Mexico. They are known for their gentle temperament and unique coloration, which can range from shades of pink and orange to brown and gray. Rosy boas are relatively easy to care for and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They typically eat a diet of rodents, and can live for up to 25 years in captivity with proper care. Rosy boas are slow-moving and enjoy hiding in tight spaces, but are generally docile and tolerate handling well. They are also relatively small, with adults reaching lengths of 2-3 feet, making them a good choice for those who are limited on space.

Western Hognose Snake

The western hognose snake (Heterodon nasicus) is a non-venomous species of snake that is found throughout North America. They are known for their unique, upturned snout and docile temperament, which make them popular as pets. Western hognose snakes are relatively easy to care for and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They typically eat a diet of rodents and can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care. Western hognose snakes are relatively small, with adults reaching lengths of 2-3 feet. They are also known for their habit of playing dead when threatened, which can make them entertaining to watch. Western hognose snakes are generally hardy and tolerate handling well, but it is important to note that some individuals may be prone to respiratory infections, which can be avoided with proper husbandry and veterinary care.

Rough Green Snake

The rough green snake (Opheodrys aestivus) is a non-venomous species of snake that is native to the southeastern United States. They are known for their bright green coloration and docile temperament, which make them popular as pets. Rough green snakes are relatively easy to care for and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They typically eat a diet of insects, and can live for up to 8 years in captivity with proper care. Rough green snakes are relatively small, with adults reaching lengths of 2-3 feet. They are also known for their arboreal lifestyle and climbing abilities, so a tall and spacious enclosure with plenty of climbing opportunities is important. Rough green snakes are generally hardy and tolerate handling well, but may be prone to respiratory infections if not kept in a warm and humid environment.

Gray-Banded King Snake

The gray-banded king snake (Lampropeltis alterna) is a non-venomous species of snake that is found in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They are known for their striking black and white striped pattern and docile temperament, which make them popular as pets. Gray-banded king snakes are relatively easy to care for and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They typically eat a diet of rodents, and can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care. Gray-banded king snakes are relatively small, with adults reaching lengths of 3-4 feet. They are also known for their hardiness and tolerance of handling, which make them a good choice for those who are new to snake ownership. Gray-banded king snakes are generally easy to care for, but it is important to provide them with a proper enclosure that is large enough for them to move around in and includes a hiding place for them to retreat to when feeling stressed or threatened.

Pueblan Milk Snake

The Pueblan milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli) is a non-venomous species of snake that is found in central Mexico. They are known for their vibrant colors, which mimic those of the venomous coral snake, and docile temperament, which make them popular as pets. Pueblan milk snakes are relatively easy to care for and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They typically eat a diet of rodents, and can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care. Pueblan milk snakes are relatively small, with adults reaching lengths of 2-3 feet. They are also known for their hardiness and tolerance of handling, which make them a good choice for those who are new to snake ownership. It is important to note that while Pueblan milk snakes are non-venomous, they may musk or bite when feeling threatened or stressed. Therefore, proper handling techniques and a calm, gentle demeanor are important when interacting with them.

Rat Snake

The rat snake is a common name for several species of non-venomous snakes that belong to the genus Elaphe, which are found throughout the world. Rat snakes are known for their hardiness and tolerance of captivity, which make them popular as pets for beginner and experienced snake owners alike. They are generally easy to care for and can be fed a diet of rodents, birds, and eggs. They typically grow to be 3-6 feet in length, with some species growing larger. Rat snakes are generally active and curious snakes that enjoy exploring their environments, but they may become stressed if they do not have enough hiding places or if their enclosure is too small. With proper care, rat snakes can live for up to 20 years in captivity. It is important to research the specific species of rat snake you are interested in to ensure that you can provide the appropriate environment and care for them.

Black Rat Snake

The black rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus) is a non-venomous species of snake that is found throughout much of North America. They are known for their striking black coloration and docile temperament, which make them popular as pets. Black rat snakes are relatively easy to care for and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They typically eat a diet of rodents, birds, and eggs, and can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care. Black rat snakes are relatively large, with adults reaching lengths of 4-6 feet. They are also known for their hardiness and tolerance of handling, which make them a good choice for those who are new to snake ownership. It is important to provide black rat snakes with a large enclosure that includes hiding places and climbing opportunities. They are generally active and curious snakes that enjoy exploring their environments, but may become stressed if they do not have enough space to move around in. Black rat snakes are generally healthy and have few health concerns in captivity, but may be prone to respiratory infections if not kept in a warm and humid environment.

Pine Snake

The pine snake is a common name for several species of non-venomous snakes that belong to the genus Pituophis, which are found in North America. Pine snakes are known for their striking pattern of yellow or white stripes on a brown background, and are popular as pets for experienced snake owners who appreciate their beauty and unique characteristics. They are generally larger snakes, with some species reaching lengths of up to 6 feet or more. Pine snakes are generally active and curious snakes that require a large enclosure with hiding places, climbing opportunities, and room to move around. They typically eat a diet of rodents, birds, and eggs, and can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care. Pine snakes have few health concerns in captivity, but may be prone to respiratory infections if not kept in a warm and humid environment. It is important to research the specific species of pine snake you are interested in to ensure that you can provide the appropriate environment and care for them, as some species may have different requirements.

Nelson’s Milk Snake

Nelson’s milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum nelsoni) is a non-venomous species of snake that is found in Mexico and the southwestern United States. They are known for their vibrant colors and docile temperament, which make them popular as pets. Nelson’s milk snakes are relatively easy to care for and are a good choice for beginner snake owners. They typically eat a diet of rodents, and can live for up to 20 years in captivity with proper care. Nelson’s milk snakes are relatively small, with adults reaching lengths of 2-3 feet. They are also known for their hardiness and tolerance of handling, which make them a good choice for those who are new to snake ownership. It is important to note that while Nelson’s milk snakes are non-venomous, they may musk or bite when feeling threatened or stressed. Therefore, proper handling techniques and a calm, gentle demeanor are important when interacting with them. Additionally, it is important to research the specific care requirements of Nelson’s milk snakes, as they may have slightly different needs than other species of milk snakes.

Spotted Python

Dumeril’s Boa

Dumeril’s boa (Acrantophis dumerili) is a non-venomous species of boa that is found in Madagascar. They are known for their striking pattern of brown or gray markings on a tan or cream background, and are popular as pets for experienced snake owners who appreciate their beauty and unique characteristics. Dumeril’s boas are generally larger snakes, with adults reaching lengths of 6-8 feet or more. They are relatively docile and tolerate handling well, which make them a good choice for experienced snake owners. Dumeril’s boas require a large enclosure with hiding places, climbing opportunities, and room to move around. They typically eat a diet of rodents, and can live for up to 30 years in captivity with proper care. Dumeril’s boas have few health concerns in captivity, but may be prone to respiratory infections if not kept in a warm and humid environment. It is important to research the specific care requirements of Dumeril’s boas, as they may have slightly different needs than other species of snakes.

How to take care of a pet snake

Taking care of a pet snake involves several key considerations, including:

  1. Housing: Provide a secure enclosure that is appropriately sized for the snake’s species and has adequate heating, lighting, and ventilation.
  2. Diet: Feed your snake a diet consisting of appropriately-sized prey, such as mice or rats, and ensure that the prey is fed a healthy diet to ensure the snake receives proper nutrition.
  3. Health: Regularly monitor your snake’s health, including checking for signs of illness, ensuring proper shedding, and maintaining a clean living environment.
  4. Handling: Handle your snake regularly to help it become accustomed to human interaction and to prevent aggression.

Housing

When it comes to housing a pet snake, it’s important to provide an appropriate enclosure that meets the specific needs of your snake’s species. Some general guidelines for housing a pet snake include:

  1. Size: The enclosure should be appropriately sized for your snake’s species and size, allowing it to move around freely and stretch out.
  2. Security: The enclosure should be secure to prevent escape, with a tight-fitting lid or top.
  3. Heating: Snakes are ectothermic, meaning they rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. Provide a heat source, such as a heat lamp or heating pad, to maintain the proper temperature range for your snake’s species.
  4. Lighting: Some snake species require specific lighting, such as UVB lighting, to maintain their health.
  5. Substrate: Choose a suitable substrate for your snake’s enclosure, such as aspen shavings, coconut coir, or reptile carpet.
  6. Hiding spots: Provide hiding spots in the enclosure, such as caves or other structures, to give your snake a place to feel secure.

Diet

The diet of a pet snake depends on the species, size, and age of the snake. Most snakes are carnivores and feed on a diet of live or pre-killed rodents, such as mice or rats. Some species may also eat insects, fish, or other small animals.

It’s important to choose prey items that are appropriately sized for your snake, as feeding prey that is too large or too small can cause health problems. As a general rule of thumb, prey should be no larger than the widest part of your snake’s body.

Young snakes typically require more frequent feedings than adult snakes, but as they grow, the frequency of feedings can be reduced. Snakes should be fed in a separate enclosure to prevent substrate or other materials from being ingested with their food.

If you are unsure about the specific dietary needs of your snake, consult with a veterinarian or an experienced reptile owner.

Heating

Heating is an important aspect of caring for a pet snake, as snakes are ectothermic, meaning they rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. Providing the proper temperature range is crucial for your snake’s health and wellbeing.

Different snake species have different temperature requirements, so it’s important to research the specific needs of your snake’s species. As a general rule, most snakes require a basking area with a temperature range between 80-90°F (27-32°C) and a cooler area with a temperature range between 70-80°F (21-27°C).

A heat lamp, ceramic heat emitter, or heating pad can be used to provide heat in the enclosure. The heat source should be placed at one end of the enclosure to create a temperature gradient, allowing your snake to move between warmer and cooler areas as needed. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature in the enclosure and make adjustments as needed.

It’s important to avoid overheating your snake, as this can cause health problems. Always provide a cool area in the enclosure where your snake can retreat if it gets too warm.

Substrate

There are many different substrate options available, but some common choices include aspen shavings, coconut coir, reptile carpet, and paper towels. Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to consider the specific needs of your snake’s species and your own personal preferences.

Some factors to consider when choosing substrate include:

  1. Absorbency: The substrate should be able to absorb any moisture in the enclosure and help maintain proper humidity levels.
  2. Dust level: Some substrate materials, such as sand, can be dusty and irritate your snake’s respiratory system.
  3. Ease of cleaning: The substrate should be easy to clean and replace when needed.
  4. Availability: Some substrate options may not be readily available in your area or may be more expensive than others.

Hiding spots

Hiding spots are an important aspect of a pet snake’s enclosure, as snakes need a place to retreat and feel secure. Providing hiding spots can help reduce stress and prevent aggression in your snake.

There are many different options for hiding spots, including commercially available reptile caves, artificial plants, and other structures. Natural materials such as rocks, logs, and pieces of driftwood can also be used as hiding spots.

Hiding spots should be placed in different areas of the enclosure, allowing your snake to choose the location that it feels most comfortable. It’s important to make sure the hiding spot is appropriately sized for your snake, allowing it to fit comfortably inside.

In addition to providing hiding spots, it’s important to handle your snake regularly to help it become accustomed to human interaction and to prevent aggression. When handling your snake, be gentle and avoid sudden movements or loud noises that could startle or stress your snake.