I was trying to find out which snake breeds were best for kids while still being easy to care for and were safe to have in the home. Snakes are fascinating, especially to young kids, though parents might be a little hesitant to buy one for their child as a pet, so I did a little bit of research and this is what I found.
So, what are the best snakes breeds for kids that are safe and easy to care for? The top five beginner snake breeds are:
- Corn Snakes
- California King Snakes
- Rosy Boas
- Gopher Snakes
- Ball Pythons
These five snakes seem to be the best blends of docility and size. There is a lot of information a pet owner needs to gather before buying and raising any type of pet, and snakes are no different.
There are a few things that are nice to know before you decide which snake is the right snake for you.
Corn snakes make great beginner pet snakes for many reasons. Their size and personalities are a huge factor in their popularity, as well as their color and the ease at which it is to care for them.
Corn snakes are a popular snake breed and as such, they are easy to find and can be bought from almost all pet shops, reptile expos, online reptile shops, and the breeders themselves.
When first looking into buying a pet it is nice to know that the price range. Corn snakes usually cost between 25-40 dollars, depending on their color variation and from where you decide to purchase them.
Corn Snakes are beautiful snakes and come in a myriad of colors and patterns. When born, corn snakes are around 8-12 inches long, and by adulthood, they grow to be around 4-5 feet long.
Because they are not too big and not too small corn snakes are very easy to handle and are great pets for beginners and kids.
These stunning snakes are also popular for their lifespan. Normal corn snakes live well into their teen years. Some even live as long as twenty years. These reptiles live and grow alongside you or your child.
Taking care of a corn snake is very important, and as far as snakes go, corn snakes are pretty easy to care for. Adult corn snakes need a 20-gallon terrarium with a secure mesh lid.
Along with their terrarium, corn snakes need bedding. Most people use aspen shavings, but cypress mulch works just as well.
Corn snakes need to feel secure, so adding hiding spots can make all the difference in the happiness and the temperament of your snake. A hiding spot can be anything from a manufactured hide box to a paper towel roll. The most important thing to remember is that the box must be big enough for the whole snake while still being snug.
Corn snakes also enjoy climbing, so adding a climbing tree and a basking light could be a nice treat for them, even though a climbing tree is not essential.
Like all living things, corn snakes need water and food to survive. Inside your snake terrarium, if you will provide a heavy bowl which your snake can easily find but not easily knock over, your snake will live a happy life. For corn snakes, in particular, it is usually a good idea to keep the water dish in the corner of the terrarium and using a ceramic dish is never a bad idea.
Corn Snakes are relatively easy to feed and can be fed pre-killed mice. Baby corn snakes need to be fed about every 5-7 days but as they grow into adulthood that switches to about every 7-10 days. Newborn corn snakes eat newborn baby mice, and adult corn snakes eat large mice.
A good tip to remember is to always make sure that the mice are thawed all the way through before trying to feed them to your snake.
For a more in depth analysis of the pros and cons of having a corn snake as a pet, read this article.
California King Snake
These snakes can be all white or be patterned black and white and they only grow to be about 4 feet long. You can find California King Snakes at almost any pet store, on online reptile stores, at a reptile shows, or directly from a breeder. Most cost around 50 dollars.
When purchasing a king snake though, you want to make sure that they have been eating thawed mice consistently before buying.
Caring for a California King Snake is fairly easy as far as caring for snakes go, especially because they are so lightweight and relatively small. Because of their size, adult California King Snakes only need a terrarium that is around 20 gallons long, but a baby California King Snake can live in a terrarium the size of a shoe box for quite some time.
California King Snakes aren’t very high maintenance so you can really chose any kind of bedding as long as it is clean and doesn’t give off strong smells. If you choose to use newspaper, paper towels, or a reptile carpet, you might want to add a hide box so that your snake has a way to hide and feel as if he is burrowing.
If you don’t want to purchase a hide box, make sure that your bedding allows for your snake to burrow so that they can feel secure.
As with the Corn Snake and all living things, California King Snakes also need food and water. If you don’t want to feed your king snake freshly killed mice, before purchasing, you should make sure that your snake has been surviving pretty consistently off of frozen and then thawed pre-killed mice.
Until your snake is very familiar with you, you should never handle them after eating until their diameter is back to its original size. If the bedding provided for your king snake could possibly be digested you should move them to a different location for feeding.
The water bowl provided for your California King Snake should only ever be filled half way so that your snake can bathe and not spill any water. If the water gets dirty you will want to change it. If it starts to cause humidity in the cage, take it out, wait for the humidity to go back down, the put the bowl back in.
For a more in depth look at California king snakes, check out this article.
Rosy Boas are great snakes and are ones that are often chosen for pets. They are extremely docile and take to handling very well.
They are rather small snakes most adults ranging between 2 and 3 feet, although they can get to be 4 feet in length.
Rosy Boas can come in a wide variety of colors and patterns and can even come in morphs, which helps add to their appeal to prospective buyers. Like their counterparts above, because of their popularity, they are very easy to purchase at reptile shows, in pet stores, online, and from breeders. However, they can sometimes be harder to find at big retail pet stores. They range from about 30-40 dollars and live for 25 or more years, so a lot of people like them.
Rosy Boas are so little that they really only need a terrarium that is 10-15 gallons. Most snakes will always try to find ways to escape, but rosy boas are especially notorious for doing
Rosy boas are pretty low maintenance and don’t need a lot of things. As long as they have about a 2-inch bedding that is replaced about 6 times a year and spot cleaned when needed, they are pretty happy. The substrate or bedding can be anything acceptable for a snake.
It is a wise decision to provide a hide for your rosy boa, although it is not necessary. A hide adds security, which means your snake will be less likely to rub their noses on things looking for a way to escape.
Rosy Boas have an interesting diet and interesting water requirements. Unlike most snakes, who need a constant water supply, rosy boas actually do better with limited water. It is best to provide water for your rosy boa about 2 times a month, usually a couple of days before feeding them. If they drink water too regularly or right before or after feeding they will regurgitate their food.
Rosy boas have an interesting feeding pattern. During summer, spring, and fall, they should be fed a small sized rodent 2-3 times a month. During the winter, rosy boas do not eat.
In their natural habitat, as the weather cools, these snakes experience a sort of hibernation because their bodies cannot digest foods during the winter. So, when the winter months come, shut off your heating pads and let the snakes cage cool to about 55 degrees.
Once spring comes, you can slowly raise the temperature back up to about 90 degrees.
Before cooling your snake’s terrarium it is vitally important that you do not feed your snake for at least 14 days. This makes sure that they don’t have undigested food in their stomachs. During this time it is okay to provide your rosy boa with water consistently.
Rosy Boas need to be handled often so they can stay familiar with their owners so they don’t get scared and bite.
For more information on keeping rosy boas as pets, read this article.
Gopher snakes are not super popular snakes in the snake buying community, but they are very beautiful and make great pets. Plus because of their active nature, they make great display snakes.
Gopher snakes are pretty heavy-bodied snakes and they can grow to be about 4-5 feet in length. They are a very common snake in the United States, but because of state regulations and overall snake health, it is better to purchase one instead of trying to catch one. Their prices are normally very reasonable, starting at around 50 dollars.
A 20-gallon terrarium will work with most gopher snakes, but the bigger you can get, the better. Really any type of substrate or bedding will work for them. They like to nestle, so providing a loose particle bedding would be the best for them. With gopher snakes, it is best to stay away from strong smelling woods like Cedar.
Providing rock hides and branches can be good for your snake and help them to be relaxed. A hide is imperative when your gopher snake is preparing to shed
Gopher Snakes need a constant source of water to be able to soak in and drink from. This water should be changed often and be in a dish that is large enough to account for bathing and heavy enough not to be knocked over.
Gopher snakes are known for having a very large and unending appetite so to avoid having an obese snake it is recommended to only feed them once a week. Baby gopher snakes will eat mice and adult gopher snakes will eat rats. Because they love to eat and will literally eat anything, it is easy to feed them thawed meals, even for their first time feeding.
For more information about gopher snakes, see this article.
Ball Pythons are currently the most popular pet snake at the moment, mostly because they come in so many different morphs. Morphs are snakes that appear different than the normal or wild snake, but not because of a genetic defect.
All snakes have morphs but the ball python has so many that they are considered to be the hottest commodity right now. Luckily that hasn’t affected the price too much. Most ball pythons can be bought starting around 30 dollars, but if you go to a snake show and want to spend a lot of money there are some morphs out there that can become pretty expensive.
Ball Pythons are heavy snakes, but aren’t that long. They range from around 3-5 feet, with females generally being longer than males, and they have an incredible life-span of 30 years or longer.
These snakes are rather friendly and are fairly easy to care for. Ball pythons are rather shy and, as such, are one of the rare snakes where a bigger terrarium isn’t better.
Ball Pythons don’t need a lot of stuff in their cages, but they do need to have at least to hide boxes to help them feel safe and secure. Normally it is best to put one hide box at each end of their terrarium.
Unlike all the other snakes on this list, ball pythons come from a humid climate and as such require humidity in their cages. Because of this need for humidity, it is preferred to have a terrarium that doesn’t have a screen roof.
The substrate or bedding in your ball python’s cage needs to be spot cleaned regularly and fully removed and replaced once every month. Because of this, the best kind of substrate to use for ball pythons is newspaper or paper towels.
Ball pythons need a constant supply of water and a water dish that is heavy enough to not tip over while still being big enough for the ball python to bathe in. Ball pythons eat an appropriately sized rodent once a week and can eat thawed pre-killed food.
Ball pythons are shy at first and need some time to learn to trust their owners, but once they do they actually seem to enjoy being handled.
For more information on ball pythons, read this article.
What snakes are not good pets for beginners? While there are a lot of good snakes out there to have as a beginner, there are a few that just aren’t that great. The five main ones are Boa Constrictors, Burmese Pythons, Water Snakes, Green Snakes, and tree boas or pythons.
What snakes should not be kept as pets? There are a few snakes that are just not meant to be in captivity and can be rather dangerous as well as expensive and hard to care for. These snakes include Reticulated Pythons, Anacondas, and any venomous snake.
Can snakes be friendly? Friendly is a term that cannot be used to describe snakes as they don’t have the proper mental structures to feel friendliness, but there are snakes that can be handled and some that will even enjoy it because humans are warm.