Why Snakes Make for the WORST Pets

Guys, I like snakes; these lovable logs of muscles and scales have had a bad reputation ever since Eve had a chat with one about some tasty fruit. They’re often cast as the bad guy in TV shows and movies. Ignoring my own bias, I did a little research and here is what I found about snakes being the worst pets out there.

Why do snakes make for the worst pets? 

Snakes are the worst pet because they suffer in captivity, and pose a potential threat to those around them. At least 75 percent of reptiles die within one year of human captivity and this includes snakes.

On top of all that, snakes require specialized care and habitats. Most people are not willing to learn what it takes to care for a snake. Those that do are often unaware of the potential harm it could cause them, or our snake friends.

Snakes Can be Hard to Read

Those that own dogs understand that owning any pet can be hard. A dog, for example, needs to be fed and walked. Grooming is important if you want your furry friend to be happy and healthy. Yes, looking after any creature can be strenuous and time-consuming, but there is one huge advantage that dog owner will always have over those who prefer snakes. A dog will always be able to vocalize when it has a need.

A snake can’t vocalize its needs.

If your dog is hungry, he will come and look at you with those big, adorable, puppy dog eyes. He may even drag his dirty bowl all over your nice new carpet, and lay it at your feet. A snake can only stare at you. If your dog needs additional exercise and wants to go on a walk, he’ll excitedly bound around your home and bark at the front door until you finally succumb to his demands and grab his leash.

A snake has no such ability. Perhaps most important of all, if your dog is hurt or sick, he is sure to cry out in pain or at the very least whine motionless on the floor. Try telling if a snake is hurting.

The fact of the matter is, snakes are very different from our own species and it is difficult to tell what they may exactly need. Let’s take an even closer look at some of the things a snake needs that you may not have been aware of.

The Specialized Needs of Snakes

Many people don’t understand how different from mammals snakes can be, and on top of that, many don’t realize that vast differences exist between different species of snake.

The range of size and diet of two different species of snake is incredibly diverse.

For example, most people know that snakes eat small rodents and reptiles, but did you know that there are some snakes that only eat eggs? And did you know that a rosy boa will grow anywhere from four to six feet, while an anaconda (another species of boa) can grow well over 20?

Size and diet are not the only things in which a snake may require special care. The lighting and temperature of one specific snake’s habitat may differ wildly from another’s. Most snakes, for example, need some sort of light to keep them healthy and strong, while a rosy boa requires nothing of the sort.

The wrong amount of humidity can be detrimental to a snake’s health. You wouldn’t want to keep a king snake in too humid of an environment, nor an anaconda in too try of one.

Point being, snakes come in a wide array of colors and patterns. They come from different continents and environments.

No two snakes are alike and it can be difficult, if not downright impossible, to mimic their natural environments in captivity.

An animal that is hard to control can be unpleasant to be around, and that definitely applies to snakes. Remember, just because you put an animal in a cage, doesn’t mean he’s happy to be there. Which leads me to my next point…

Snakes are Not Domesticated Animals

Dogs and cats have a close relationship with humanity. For thousands of years, we’ve enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with these animals. Dogs worked on the farms and pastures of the humans of yore. In exchange, they received shelter and a full belly. Not to mention the love and affection of just about every person who has ever walked the planet.

Cats are the same way. They hang around us and get to nosh to their heart’s content on all the obnoxious rats that our egregious amounts of waste attract. They get a free easy meal, and we get to live without gross, unsanitary rodents scurrying around all over the place. It’s a win-win deal!

Snakes, on the other hand, do not hold such a revered place in the human imagination. In fact, throughout history, they have been closely associated with God’s wrath and mummy curses. Is there a reason for this?

It could be, in fact, that snakes are wild animals that we happen to stuff into cages. Every time you come home for work, Mr. Doggy-Face rushes to the door to greet you with an affectionate lick.

Your snake, on the other hand, only stares on with indifference, and that’s not just because snakes don’t have eyelids. They feel no special bond with us humans. I recently wrote an article about whether or not pet snakes could be affectionate to their owners, where I also go over if they even enjoy being pets. Find it here.

I don’t think they want to be with us at all! The way we look at our snake is more akin to the way a cat eyes a laser pointer, than how a dog looks at his master and feels love.

Snakes Don’t Like Captivity

Let’s experiment with a little role reversal here. Imagine that you are going about your normal day. You work the regular nine to five, Monday through Friday. You come back home to a loving wife and three kids every afternoon.

On weekends, you like to take your family out on the lake for some quality time. Yes, things couldn’t get much better. One day, as you’re driving to your exciting job as a pet food technician, your car is forcefully thrown off the road by some massive force from above.

Your car lands on the side of the freeway with a massive crash, but you manage to escape unharmed. Suddenly, you feel that same unstoppable force grasp you around the waste, and you are whisked away from all that you know and love to parts unknown. The next thing you are aware of is being crammed into a cage too small for you to stand up straight in, and two large, black, unblinking eyes watching you. The giant eyes of a snake!

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Wasn’t that a fun mental experiment! How do you feel? Crummy? I’m not so sure that snakes feel all that different.

These are wild animals that need space to move and grow. Things they can’t feel locked in a cage.

Maybe that’s why so many snakes break out. Oh yeah! Which reminds me…

Snakes Are Really Good at Breaking Out of Their Habitats

Snakes are like the Harry Houdinis of the pet world. Try to put them in a metaphorical straitjacket, and they’ll screw over your metaphor, escape your fake jacket, and go straight to eating your family dog. No joke. If your snake is big enough, he will straight up consume your dog alive. Down the hatch. Bon appetit and bye-bye Fido. I’ve read horror stories of pythons escaping and taking down fully grown 60-pound huskies. Tragic.

Even more terrifying is when these brutes get out and start attacking humans. In 2013, an African rocky python escaped from a local exotic pet store and strangled two young boys, ages five and seven, in their sleep. This isn’t the only account. In 2012, a man from Virginia was bitten and killed by his own pet venomous snake. In 2009, a young girl, only two years old, was strangled to death by her families escaped 12-foot long Burmese python.

These are only a few of the tragic accidents that happen when these wild animals are locked in cages. They are good at escaping, and quite dangerous when they get out. When they do get out they can end up in some pretty interesting places. In fact, here you can find an article I recently wrote about whether or not pet snakes bite their owners. These stories seem to answer the question, but in this article, I suggest what to do if you do get bitten, and how to avoid it.

Snakes Can Swim Up Through Your Toilet

What are you most scared of? Heights? How about that math test that you didn’t study for? I have a friend that is absolutely terrified of a snake climbing up through the toilet while he is using it. I used to think that was an odd thing to be afraid of, until today.

In February of 2017, a young boy in Texas awoke early one morning to use the john and was surprised to find the toilet already occupied by, yup, you guessed it, a full grown rattlesnake. The boy anxiously called to his mother, who upon seeing the slithery monster, ordered her other sons to beat it to death with a shovel. I never want to go to the bathroom in Texas again. You can learn about this incident here.

While this is a rare occurrence it can totally happen. Snakes are great swimmers and some species can stay under the water for an hour at a time. Their long thin bodies can squeeze into even the tightest of spaces, which means it isn’t too hard for a snake to slither its way up a sewer pipe to a toilet near you. Remember to look before you sit next time you stop by the can.

Snakes Carry Salmonella

Did you ever cook with your mother as a child? I’m sure if you did she was obstinate with the fact that you need to wash your hands after handling raw chicken. 

“Wash your hands!” she said. “You don’t want to get salmonella!”

What is salmonella exactly? Salmonella is a bacterial infection affecting the bloodstream, but more often than not, the intestines.

Salmonella is usually contracted from eating undercooked poultry, but it can be transmitted through touching amphibians or some reptiles, including snakes.

But why is salmonella so bad? What does it actually do?

Friends, there are many terrible ways to die. Being eaten by a snake ranks high on my list, but potentially even worse, is pooping oneself to death. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m talking about good old-fashioned brown death. Salmonella causes abdominal cramps, fatigue, but most common, severe diarrhea. Diarrhea that may be fatal to young children, or those with weakened immune systems.

If that doesn’t change your mind about snakes, I don’t know what will. Not only will these guys Houdini their way out of their cage to eat your dogs and your children, but if you touch it, it may give you an infection that causes you to poop yourself to death. Is this why Indiana Jones was so afraid of snakes? Can you really blame him?

The Danger of Zoonotic Diseases

While on the subject of diseases, let’s talk about zoonotic diseases. When I first heard about a zoonotic disease I thought it was the name of a rocking new metal band. Turns out it is even worse.

A zoonotic disease is an illness that is spread, originating in an animal, and then being spread to humans.

Think swine or bird flu, or even the salmonella that we just discussed. Zoonotic diseases are a real threat that may be spread by your pet snake. Some common illnesses which spread from snakes to humans are: Botulism, Leptospiriosis, Campylobacteriosis, botulism, and more.

Those diseases sound scary enough, but let’s look to the future and hastily come to the conclusion that snakes are only waiting for the perfect moment to spread to us humans some sort of super snake flu. Did you ever learn in Sunday School about those fiery flying serpents that bit up Moses and the Israelites?

That’s what snake flu will do. It will turn us all into fiery flying serpents, soaring around and biting the ever living daylights out of each other until there are no humans left! Those scheming snakes think they have the drop on us, but we will be prepared.

If snake flu isn’t bad enough, snakes can also pass on harmful worms and ticks. That’s just obnoxious.

Related Questions

Are all snakes legal to own? 

Any snake that isn’t an endangered species should be OK to own, but there are some caveats to that. The United States forbids the import of large snake (like boa constrictors, anacondas, etc.) and anyone caught doing so will be slapped with a healthy fine. I haven’t read anything that says it is illegal to buy these kinds of snakes if they are already in the US though. If you are looking to buy one of these as a pet, make sure you do your research and use caution.

Can a snake be a service animal? 

Well, I mean, there aren’t any seeing-eye-snakes like there are seeing-eye-dogs. I have heard of a lot of people that swear their snake helps them relieve stress, but if I’m being honest, most people I know just get more stressed around snakes. I suppose they could be of service if you have a lot of caged pinky mice that you are looking to get rid of. They will happily eat all of them so you don’t have to. I would personally consider that a great service. 

Why would anyone get a pet snake?

Hey now, let’s not think that snakes are all that bad. A lot of people get a lot of enjoyment out of snakes, and I frankly think that they are pretty cool. Maybe, you are a cat person, and can’t imagine why anyone in the world would get any other pet other than a cat. We each have our own personal preferences. If you want some positive views on snakes, please look at this snake owner article about: Do Snake Make Good Pets?