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5 Great Pet Snakes for Beginners

Ever wondered about the perfect newbie snake for someone stepping into the herpetology world? When we say ‘beginner,’ we mean a snake that’s chill to take care of, needing just some TLC and good housekeeping skills. Among the whole reptile gang, snakes steal the show, hands down. Hit up a reptile expo, and you’ll see a sea of slithery buddies ready for new homes. Snakes are awesome pets; they can be total introverts or social butterflies, depending on the snake’s mood and species. Some are low-maintenance too. Here, we’re hooking you up with five snake buddies perfect for beginners, in no particular order. Whether you’re just starting in herpetology or looking to expand your squad with an easy-going addition, these picks are worth checking out.

1. Ball Python

ball python

Meet the ball python (Python regius), a rockstar in the pet snake scene, thanks to its kaleidoscope of morphs and a charmingly shy personality. Wrangling a ball python is a breeze with the right care hacks. Unlike its slithery peers, this python craves a tropical touch, hailing from central and western Africa. While not the Goliath of pythons, it flaunts a robust build. Females stretch to 3 to 5 feet, while males keep it compact at 2 to 3 feet. But hey, size is relative, right?

Prepare for the longevity marathon—ball pythons, akin to rosy boas, clock impressive lifespans, with some hitting the 30-year milestone in captivity. Start small with a snug 40-gallon setup for hatchlings, but as they flex and grow, upgrade to a roomier 4’x2’x’2′ crib in 3 to 5 years. Toss the screen top for better humidity control; trust me, your python will thank you. And don’t forget the VIP treatment—a hide box on both ends of its pad. Privacy matters for these shy buddies. As for their watering hole, think big—ceramic bowls steal the show over their plastic counterparts in this snake sanctuary.

Normal Ball Pythons usually kick off at approximately $30, a standard rate observed at most reptile exhibitions. Pet emporiums also align with this pricing for these serpentine companions. Yet, once you step into the realm of morphs, the financial sky becomes the limit. While the prices of certain morphs have descended significantly from their exorbitant peaks, there are still some ball pythons on the market commanding a hefty price tag. The silver lining rests in the realm of reptile shows, where a plethora of breeders showcases an assortment of ball python morphs, transforming it into a buyer’s haven. The decision ultimately hinges on your budgetary aspirations.

Among the snakes featured on this roster, the ball python stands delicately on the cusp of being an ideal beginner snake. It flaunts a set of care requirements slightly more intricate than its counterparts. Beyond its basic care needs, the ball python has a proclivity to undergo a fasting period, colloquially known as “going off feed,” regardless of the season. One recurring inquiry in the ball python community revolves around the puzzle of “why my ball python won’t eat.” In most instances, this sporadic fasting is an inherent aspect of a ball python’s nature. There’s no discernible pattern or logic behind these fasting episodes; they simply unfold. Such phases can persist for several months. As long as your ball python maintains a robust and healthy appearance, there’s generally no cause for undue concern. However, if signs of emaciation or undue thinness surface, it’s imperative to promptly seek the counsel of a veterinarian.

2. Gopher Snake

Gopher Snake

Enter the world of gopher snakes (Pituophis spp.), an unsung hero in the reptile realm. Decked out in various morphs, these snakes are the hidden gems of the hobby—easy to snag and budget-friendly, starting at a modest $50, or even less at local reptile fiestas. Stretching to a cozy 3 to 6 feet, with an average of 4 to 5 feet, gopher snakes are the heavyweights of the snake kingdom, boasting a commendable 15+ years of captivity.

Kick off their journey in a 20-gallon long pad, graduating to a 50-gallon suite as they mature. The sweet spot? A 4-foot-long enclosure for your grown-up gopher buddy. Bed them down in two to three inches of aspen wood bedding for prime burrowing conditions. No need for VIP lighting—gopher snakes are cool with the basics. Tweak the thermostat to their liking, maintaining a mid-70s to mid-80s temperature range. Give them a spacious water bowl for a spa-like soak in non-chlorinated water. And when it comes to dining, start the hatchlings on appropriately sized pinky mice, matching the snake’s width. As they grow into adulthood, upgrade their menu to frozen/thawed rats.

3. Rosy Boa

rosy boa

Meet the rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata), a somewhat understated star in the pet snake galaxy, sharing the limelight with the likes of corn snakes and California kingsnakes. Despite not stealing the show, the rosy boa has its own devoted fan base in the hobby. Known for its gentle disposition, it keeps things relatively compact, reaching around 4 feet at max growth, though most hover at a comfy 2 to 3 feet. A budget-friendly addition, you can snag a hatchling for approximately $30-40 at reptile shows, specialty stores, or online—just don’t expect to find them in your typical big-box pet store lineup.

The rosy boa isn’t just a brief companion; it’s a long-haul partner, capable of clocking 25+ years or more. Similar to ball pythons and corn snakes, rosy boas flaunt a spectrum of hues to suit your aesthetic tastes.

When it comes to their abode, make it Houdini-proof, as rosy boas fancy the idea of a great escape. Skip the screened top, though, as it can lead to nose abrasions. Opt for a spacious 40-gallon vertical setup for adult rosy boas, while hatchlings can kick off their journey in snug shoeboxes or similarly sized cribs. Lay down the aspen bedding, providing a cozy two inches for burrowing pleasure. Keep things tidy with spot cleaning and a substrate swap every other month. Forget the disco lights—rosy boas don’t need them. But a heat pad or tape under the tank, coupled with a thermostat, creates a cozy corner for thermoregulation and aids digestion. Keep the rosy boa’s culinary calendar ticking with appropriately sized frozen-thawed mice—two to four times a month in the spring and less during the winter.

4. California Kingsnakes

California King Snake

Enter the realm of California kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula californiae), the monarchs renowned for their prowess in vanquishing rattlesnakes and other serpent foes. Down here in Southern California, these regal reptiles enjoy both popularity in the trade and admiration in their natural habitat. Not just a spectacle for seasoned herpetologists, they are also highly favored as beginner snakes, albeit with a touch of feistiness if not handled regularly. In the wild, they exhibit opportunistic dining habits, relishing the chance to devour a variety of prey, from venomous snakes and small rodents to lizards, birds, and even bird eggs. Despite their royal status, kingsnakes maintain a modest size, typically measuring between 3 to 4 feet.

For your crowned companion, a 40-gallon palace with a screened top, a cozy hideout, and appropriate substrate is the ticket. The more spacious the enclosure, the happier the snake. Equip your setup with an under-tank heater connected to a thermostat tailored to your tank‘s size, ensuring the royal resident can thermoregulate and digest with ease. The water basin should be capacious enough for a royal soak and hefty enough to resist tipping. No need for a dazzling light show—kingsnakes aren’t fans of flashy spectacles. Begin your hatchling’s banquet with suitably sized pinky mice (matching the snake’s girth), progressing through a gastronomic journey of pinkies, fuzzies, hoppers, small mice, and eventually, adult mice. As your serpent sovereign matures, graduate to frozen-thawed mice or even rat pups for a grander feast. A princely sum of around $50 can usher a baby kingsnake into your court, offering a range from an aberrant black-and-white corn snake to a baby albino kingsnake (toward the upper $50 tier). Beyond the palette of colors, remember, they all share the noble lineage of Lampropeltis getula californiae.

5. Corn Snake

Corn Snake

Back before ball pythons stole the spotlight in the snake lover community, corn snakes (Pantherophis guttata) were the rockstars of the pet snake scene. They’re laid-back, easy to handle, and taking care of them is a breeze—what’s not to dig about these North American natives? Corn snakes are still topping the charts as one of the coolest pet snakes. They’re chill, easy to find, and their colors are like a reptilian rainbow. Plus, they don’t grow into massive noodle monsters, and if you’re into the idea of them having baby snakes, well, that’s a walk in the park too.

Corn snake hatchlings average around $25-40 depending on where you buy them and their color variation. You can keep a hatchling in a 20-gallon enclosure for two to three years. After this, you should upgrade the enclosures to a minimum 50 gallon equivalent and larger enclosure. Make sure it has a screened top, an under-tank heat pad attached to a thermostat, a ceramic water bowl, two hides (paper towel roll and a commercial hide), some driftwood for climbing, and aspen substrate. No special lighting is required and when I feed them, I pull them out and place them in their own separate shoebox where they both get a frozen/thawed rat pup or F/T mice. They can live for a long time.

Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team