Snakes are captivating animals due to their unusual look and little need for attention so you may want one for a pet. They require special requirements however, which vary between breeds. This means you should choose a snake breed which best suits your interests and time. Here are five common breeds which are easy to find in most pet shops and are fairly easy to look after.
Corn snakes are a popular breed for beginners as they are gentle and do not grow as large as other breeds. This means they require a fairly small enclosure, a 20-gallon tank. They also require a heat lamp to keep the enclosure warm. Corn snakes are particularly good at escaping, so be prepared to search a room after a day away from the enclosure! They are usually only fed twice a week when growing. Corn snakes are usually fed frozen mice, so may be a better pet snake if you aren’t comfortable handling larger prey items like rabbits.
They come in many colours and can be found with lots of patterns, so you’ll have plenty of choices with the look of your corn snake.
They live around 15 years, so aren’t as long a commitment as other snake breeds.
Points for: small size, simple enclosure and feeding
Also well suited for beginners, royal pythons are a more heavy-bodied (larger) breed than corn snakes. A larger enclosure will therefore be needed, which must be made of wood to keep the snake warm. Imagine the enclosure taking up about the space of a coffee table in your room. Royal pythons are also known as ‘ball pythons’ because when they are threatened, they roll themselves into a tight ball. Similar to corn snakes, royal pythons also need a heat lamp, and are fed frozen mice.
Royal pythons are black with a yellow, brown or gold pattern.
They live around 30 years, so you’ll be spending a long time with your pet.
Points for: larger size with simple feeding
Boa constrictors can be chosen rather than the above due to their large size and intelligence. They are generally more interactive and interesting than more common snakes. However, they will take up a large space in your home, and their enclosure will need to be custom built and very secure. To keep their enclosure warm, they’ll need heating bulbs as well as a heating pad. Adult boa constrictors are fed either a few rats or a rabbit around once a month. All of these factors together mean that boa constrictors are quite expensive to look after.
Boa constrictors are brown, grey or cream, with brown or white spots. They come in a few species, including the red-tail and Kenyan sand boa.
They live on average 20-30 years, so are a long-term responsibility.
Points for: more interactive, larger size
Green Tree Pythons
Green tree pythons are ‘arboreal’, meaning they like to spend a lot of time up in tree branches. They form a cute clump on tree limbs, which can make them more interesting to watch. They have a reputation for being defensive or aggressive, but when handled gently and carefully, green tree pythons are calm for short handling periods. Generally, they are owned by experienced keepers rather than beginners, and are kept as display snakes. Their enclosures will take up the same space as a coffee table, and will need a heat bulb. They also require slightly higher humidity than other snakes, so you’ll need to spray the tank with water every morning. You will need to feed them mice roughly every two weeks.
Green tree pythons are very vibrant green or yellow, an unusual and interesting colour.
They live for around 20 years.
Points for: interesting look and behaviours
Western Hognose Snakes
Western Hognose snakes are best known for their interesting look, but are also one of the smallest common snake breeds. They may be the best pet snake for you if you don’t have a large amount of space available for your snake. Like the Royal Python, they need a wooden enclosure to stay warm, as well as a basking lamp. When threatened, Western Hognose snakes form a hood, much like Cobra snakes, and may hiss. This means you must learn how to handle your western hognose snake properly. They are fed mice every two weeks.
Western hognose snakes are are tan or dark brown with black spots, getting their unusual look from the upturned nose.
They live for around 15 years.
Points for: interesting look, small size
From these five breeds, you can see that snakes come in a wide variety of sizes, lifespans and looks. If you haven’t yet found a breed which suits your personal interests, there are many more to choose from. You may benefit from asking in pet shops or snake enclosures for snakes with your desired characteristics to find the best pet snake for you. Good luck looking after your new pet!