Keeping a Pet Snake – Key Considerations

Firstly and probably most importantly you need to understand that owning a snake is a long term investment. Many species of snake can live up to 20 years. It is also important to understand that snakes can fit through tiny holes, so an escape-proof tank is essential.

Before choosing your snake:

  • Understand the full adult size your snake will reach. Some snakes can grow to huge sizes although sensible pet snakes will normally reach a maximum length of around 6-7 feet. Depending upon the species, the size of your snake cage should be a minimum of two thirds the overall length of the snake, so that it can stretch out suitably.
  • Different species of snakes will have different temperaments. Some species are more prone to biting than others and subsequently don’t make the best pets. Ideally you should research the species beforehand to make understand its behavioural characteristics.
  • If you have a weak stomach then snakes are unlikely to be great for you. Snakes eat prey, albeit typically frozen and thawed, but they will still require you to feed one animal to another. For some this is appealing, although unless you are willing to see nature in action, a snake may not be right for you.
  • If you are just starting out keeping snakes then it is worth looking at species that are fairly hardy in captivity. Some snakes are remarkably difficult to keep healthy, although others can thrive at the right temperature with a clean cage, fresh water and the proper diet.

So if you have understood these considerations and feel a snake is right for you, what species should you be considering?

  • Corn Snakes – Great for beginners, visually appealing and relatively easy to keep.
  • Gopher Snakes – Not as colourful but can become extremely tame with regular handling.
  • Ball Pythons – A little harder to feed and can live in excess of 25 years.
  • Garter Snakes – Smaller in size although once again a good variety of colours.
  • King Snakes – Numerous varieties and do well in captivity.