Choosing Your First Pet Snake

How to Choose Your First Pet Snake


Choosing the Right Breed

  1. Know what you want in your snake.Here are some options you can consider:
    • The size of your snake: Some big snakes, such as Anacondas, Burmese Pythons, and Reticulated Pythons, can grow up to 20 feet (6.1 m) long, so they are not recommended for first-time snake owners. Anyone considering adopting one of these types of snakes needs to keep in mind that these snakes require huge, expensive cages and can be quite dangerous to handle. Medium-sized snakes can get about 6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 m) long; this includes most boa constrictors like the Colombian Red Tail Boa and the Brazilian Rainbow Boa. Smaller snakes are more suitable for most pet owners as they need smaller cages and less food. They usually get up to 2-5 feet (0.6-1.5 m) in length which is also more manageable for most people.
    • Food: Most snakes eat mice or rats; these can be purchased frozen or live at the pet store. Feeding your snake frozen food is preferable because in some cases live rodents can actually injure or kill your snake. Some snakes will occasionally become picky and demand live food. Some snakes, such as garter snakes, can occasionally eat small fish or worms. Some snakes can occasionally eat quail or finch eggs, and African Egg-eating snakes solely feed upon those types of eggs. Big snakes, such as Reticulated Pythons, typically feed on rabbits and chickens.
    • Some snakes are easy to handle, others not so much. Think about how much you want to play with your snake. Ball pythons, corn snakes, and many other types of snakes are great to handle while snakes like Green Tree Pythons may not ever want to be handled and will only be observation animals.
    • Consider the place from which you purchase your pet snake. Most pet stores obtain their animals from reptile mills or untrustworthy places, and the majority of their animals easily fall ill and perish. There are also numerous websites online on which you can purchase a pet snake to be shipped to your house, but be very cautious with this because not all of these companies will ensure the safe delivery of your snake. A great place to purchase a reptile is from a reputable breeder. Attending local reptile shows can give you an opportunity to find a wide range of snakes for sale where you could actually meet the breeder in person.
    • Be cautious of purchasing venomous snakes. Only people with decades of working with reptiles should even consider handling "hot," or venomous, snakes. Most reputable breeders and pet stores do not sell venomous snakes.
    • You should also take into consideration the different morphs, or colors and patterns of the snake's scales, prior to your purchase. For example, corn snakes come in a huge variety of colors, and almost all of them are not very expensive. However, there are many rare morphs out there that can look stunning yet cost a fortune. Make sure that you purchase your snake from a reputable breeder that will not rip you off by lying to you about the morph or severely overpricing their snake. Do your research first.
  2. Choose easier snakes for simpler care.There are a couple of beginner snakes that you should think about for your first pet snake. These are snakes with a calm temperament and are fairly easy to look after.
    • Corn snakes are perhaps the easiest of snakes to care for and can be held and tamed very easily. These are an active and curious species which will like to slither around and check stuff out.
    • You could also take a look at Ribbon snakes, Black Rat snakes, King snakes and Milk snakes which also have similar personalities as members of the Colubrid family.
    • If you would like a snake that is less active and slow moving, a great choice is a Ball Python. They do not get very big and will enjoy just sitting in your hands or hanging around your neck.
  3. Choose snakes depending on whether you have children in the house.Children will often benefit from different kinds of snakes than adults. The minimum age for a child to have a snake it about 5.
  4. Know what kind of snake you are getting.If you are not purchasing from a reliable source, you can find a lot of snakes appear to look the same and it can be difficult to know exactly what species of snake you are getting unless you seek professional advice.
  5. Know which snakes are no good for new owners.Anacondas, reticulated pythons, venomous snakes and Burmese pythons can be dangerous animals if proper care and locked enclosures are not provided. It is best to leave these species for more experienced keepers. You will also find that these have very specific care requirements meaning that the smallest of mistakes will result in an almost catastrophic accident!

Making Sure You Want the Breed of Snake You Choose

  1. Check the life span of the breed of snake you have chosen.Before you decide upon having a snake as a pet, remember that some species can live over thirty years, making this a lifelong commitment that you should be one hundred percent sure about.
  2. Make sure you can take care of the snake.Different snakes have different needs for equipment and feeding. More advanced snakes need monitoring of temperatures, humidity and complicated feeding that you need to take into account. Research is essential and is the first step that you must take.
    • Corn snakes and Ball Pythons are equally friendly, but Ball Pythons can not tolerate temperatures below 75 degrees F (24 degrees C). If your house gets cold, would need heating for the Ball Python's cage.
    • Asian Vine Snakes are very interesting, but they only eat lizards. Buying one would involve quite a chore in keeping it fed.

Choosing the Right Place to Buy Your Snake

  1. Check wild caught snakes for local and federal laws.On occasion, a child brings home a snake caught in the wild, which turns out to be an endangered species! Check with your local humane society or the Department of the Interiorto check.
  2. Choose a legal breeder or pet store.Exotic animal smuggling is a large business and can contribute to the extinction of endangered species.
  3. Watch for behavior issues for smuggled animals.Animals that are wild caught and smuggled across continents have the following issues that you may notice:
    • You may see increased aggression. A wild captured snake will be stressed out and unsure of the new smaller surroundings. This can make the snake scared of you and be more aggressive.
    • You may have trouble getting a smuggled animal to eat due to its stress level. Secondly, it may not eat until it is adjusted to captivity.
    • You may find parasites in snakes that have been living in the wild and may need expensive treatment by a veterinarian.
  4. Know that getting a captive born snake from a a reputable breeder is best.Even when you get a snake from a friend of a friend and you do not know how badly or how well the snake has been treated, making long term implications for future care of the snake.
    • Craigslist is full of people trying to get rid of their snakes, but for reasons above is less good than other places to get a snake. Still, many times you can get a snake for free there.
    • Reptile shows are fun places to get your snake, and the exhibitors are knowledgeable compared to pet store employees. Still, it is hard to decide which are the reputable breeders and which are not.

Taking Care of Your New Snake

  1. Read up on the care and feeding of your kind of snake.There are many related wikihows for all kinds of snakes that you can read. It is also great to chat with other snake owners and learn from them.
  2. Watch online videos on snake care.
  3. Take good care of them.Snakes are wonderful creatures if you take care of them and make sure that they are fed correctly, homed correctly and handled in the right manner. Research cannot be stressed enough; the more you know, the higher the chance that you will get everything right and the longer and happier relationship you will have together.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Can snakes be in a house with dogs?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    They can, however, they need a separate room/enclosure. Don't interact with the snake while the dog is around, as it could cause serious injuries to the snake as well as the dog. Good Luck!
  • Question
    How big can a ball python grow?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    A male ball python can be as long as 2-3 feet. A female, up to 3-5 feet.
  • Question
    Does this apply to second and third pet snakes?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    They should be handled the same - with care and caution - but you could get slightly more difficult pets to keep if you feel experienced.
  • Question
    How do I play with my snake without it trying to bite me?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It depends on the breed and individual snake. If you have it from a young age, it will try and bite because it is not used to being handled, but you can tame it by handling it regularly. Wear cowhide gloves when you handle your snake so it won't lose any teeth if it decides to bite you which can cause the snake to stop eating entirely. As the snake gets used to you, it is important to not handle it too much. Three times a week is perfect when starting out.
  • Question
    I'm thinking about getting a corn snake, but my mom doesn't like the idea of feeding small animals to snakes. Any advice?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Disgusting as it may seem, this is the natural way snakes eat. However, most pet stores sell freshly killed or frozen snake food, so you wouldn't have to actually kill an animal or watch your snake kill a live one.
  • Question
    Which snakes don't bite?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    All snakes bite, but if you want a snake that is not venomous, a ball python is an ideal pet for beginners and, as long as you establish trust between you and the snake, they unlikely to bite. Just don't aggravate it and you can hold/play with it.
  • Question
    Are corn snakes easy to tame?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes they are! If you are new to keeping snakes, a corn snake is a good choice.
  • Question
    Will a ball python be aggressive to cats?
    Community Answer
    Ball pythons are extremely docile, and would only try to strike to defend herself or if she thought something was food. I would recommend keeping the snake away from the cats, though, as they may harm the snake and in return, the cat may get hurt from the snake defending herself.
  • Question
    What snakes are friendly and also grow to be 5-7 feet long?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Ball pythons, though only the females only get that big, and even for a female, 7 feet would be a monster.
  • Question
    Is a milk snake a good starter snake?
    Community Answer
    I would say no, as they are slightly more fragile than most beginner snakes, like corn snakes and ball pythons.
Ask a Question
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  • Docile snakes such as Garter Snakes , Corn Snakes and Ball Pythons are great starter snakes for kids and adults.
  • Ask other snake owners about their snake, how to look after it and also any problems that they may have had.
  • If you like snakes, research them and make an educated choice of purchase. They are a big responsibility. Don't forget that many people are afraid of them. Be tolerant and respectful.
  • Use various sources such as publications, websites and forums to research different species and also to find breeders in your area.


  • Remember, anything with a mouth can bite. Even though there are several species so docile that they will probably never bite, there is always a chance for a feeding accident. Use tongs when feeding so your hands are away from the snake's mouth. Always wash your hands after touching rodents or birds before handling your snake so you don't smell like food. It is possible that your snake could smell these animals on you and decide to bite first and ask questions later.
  • This is a long term commitment and if you cannot commit thirty years or so to the animal and its care, you should not be getting one!


Choosing a Pet Snake for a Child

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Date: 06.12.2018, 14:30 / Views: 31355