Best Snakes for a Beginner

When choosing a snake for the first time the wide variety of species available can be intimidating. A new snake owner must understand the specific traits and needs of each individual species before making a decision. The most important things to consider are temperament, size, and ease of care.

childrens-python

The following species have been chosen based on their exceptional suitability for new owners:

1. Corn Snake

Corn snakes are by far the most popular choice for beginners. They are naturally docile and become tame quickly. Corn snakes that are regularly handled from an early age will almost never bite.

Another attractive feature of this species is the astounding variety of morphs. A morph is simply a colour or pattern variation. The most common morphs can be found at most pet stores. Other morphs may only be available from a breeder or at a reptile show.

Adult corn snakes usually grow to be 4-5 feet long. They are slender-bodied snakes and can be handled even by children without difficulty. Corn snakes are ideal for homes with limited space. Their enclosure should be at least 30 in. long by 12 in. wide. This is roughly the same measurement as a 20-gallon aquarium.

2. Ball Python

Ball pythons are a good choice for someone who wants a heavy-bodied snake that will stay small enough to handle. Like corn snakes ball pythons are very docile and not prone to bite. But they are naturally shy and will require time and patience to tame.

As adults ball pythons grow to be 3-5 feet long. Females are usually much larger than males. Although they are strong snakes a single person can safely handle them without supervision. Their strength makes them excellent escape artists. A secure habitat is an absolute necessity.

Owning a ball python can come with some challenges. This species is known to sometimes be picky eaters. For example, a snake raised on live mice may never accept frozen. Sometimes ball pythons will refuse to eat for long periods of time without any obvious reason. This can be alarming for a new owner. But usually the fast is temporary and the snake will resume eating when it is ready.

Young girl holding a snake over her shoulder
Some snakes are perfectly safe with the right kids. Some are not.

3. Rosy Boa

Rosy boas are one of the smaller species that are ideal for beginners. Adults rarely exceed three feet in length. They do not require a large habitat. A 20-gallon aquarium or equivalent enclosure should be sufficient.

A defining trait of this species is their laid back temperament. Rosy boas are slow moving snakes and they are very easy to handle. It is unlikely that a rosy boa would ever bite its owner. A new snake will become tame quickly with consistent gentle handling.

Rosy boas are found in a wide variety of colours and patterns. The coloration and markings are determined by the snake’s geographical origin. These snakes are considered quite beautiful and are excellent for display.

4. Milk Snake

Milk snakes are an attractive choice for new owners because of their bold stripes of red, black, and yellow. This coloration mimics the venomous coral snake and is meant to deter predators. Milk snakes are timid and not prone to bite. They will become tame with regular handling. But when frightened they will often defecate or release a foul smelling musk. These snakes are ideal for an owner who wants a beautiful display animal and does not need to handle their snake often.

There are many subspecies of milk snake available in the pet trade. The two most common are the Pueblan and Honduran milk snake. Pueblan milk snakes are small. As adults they rarely exceed three feet in length. Most other subspecies are similar to them in size. Honduran milk snakes can potentially grow much larger. Some specimens can reach up to six feet long.

5. Rubber Boa

No snake is as tame or as simple to care for as the rubber boa. A rubber boa biting its owner is almost unheard of. Very little effort is required to tame them. These snakes will even learn to enjoy their owner’s attention and happily curl around an arm or wrist for warmth.

Rubber boas are small snakes. Usually they will grow to be 14-28 inches long as adults. This is another ideal species for small spaces. A 10-20 gallon aquarium is sufficient housing. A unique feature of this species is that they can be kept in groups without causing one another stress or harm. For families with children who each want their own snake choosing a rubber boa can save space and money.

The most challenging part of owning a rubber boa is finding one. Pet stores rarely stock them. A prospective owner may need to search online for a reputable dealer or breeder. Some people catch their boas in the wild. But it is important to first know the local laws concerning the harvesting of wildlife and have enough experience to do so safely.

These five snake species are among the most highly recommended for beginners. Any one of them would make an excellent first snake. But before committing to ownership it is important to first research their care and set up a suitable habitat. A prepared snake owner will be a successful snake owner.