Snakes are becoming more popular as pets with each passing year.
The demand for these scaly reptiles has resulted in hundreds of pet snake species. With so many species, it can be hard for new reptile keepers to know which snake best suits them. This can often vary depending on skill level, confidence, time and budget.
Some species are best left to keepers with lots of reptile husbandry knowledge. But, there are also plenty of snakes that are perfect for beginners.
Are you looking to get into the snake-keeping hobby? Continue reading for our pick of the top 15 best pet snakes that are easy to take care of…
15. Rainbow Boa
The rainbow boa is a perfect beginner snake for someone who has previous reptile husbandry experience. As pets, rainbow boas can be shy and defensive, but they quickly warm up to handling after a few weeks.
Rainbow boas get their name from their iridescent scales. Their scales refract light to create a unique rainbow shine over an orange and black body. They are the most eye-catching snake on our list. These beautiful snakes can grow up to six feet in length and live for up to 20 years with good care.
This species needs a large enclosure, ideally a 100-gallon tank. Their tank must have plenty of shade and cover to reduce stress.
Their tank setup must also have high heat and humidity to mimic their natural habitat, which can be tricky to achieve in a very large tank. Rainbow boas are native to the Amazon River basin. This species lives in warm, wet forests and savannas, where they live close to the ground.
Rainbow boas are mostly active at night and rarely come out during the day, they are a nocturnal species.
14. Woma Python
The Woma Python is an underrated beginner snake.
These constrictor snakes stay relatively small, are docile, and do not require much in terms of care. However, they are still fairly rare pets, which can make it a challenge to find a good breeder.
Woma pythons are tan with dark, reddish brown bands that give them the appearance of having tiger stripes. Adults rarely grow longer than five feet, and are easier to handle than more popular alternatives like ball pythons.
Wild woma pythons mostly eat lizards, but captive species usually adjust to an all-rodent diet without a problem. They only need to be fed a mouse or rat every two weeks which makes them simple to feed.
This species is native to the deserts of Australia. Their tank should have five inches of loose substrate for them to dig in. Like the Rainbow Boa, they also need plenty of hides to feel secure. Keep humidity between 50-70% and basking temperatures no higher than 90°F to keep this snake happy.
13. Children’s Python
The Children’s Python is loved for its ease of care and manageable size. It is a small constrictor that is often described as a miniature ball python. These small pet snakes grow between two to four feet long and are not as powerful as other pythons.
The Children’s Pythons is a hardy, friendly snake that needs only a basic setup to remain happy and healthy.
A 30-gallon, well ventilated glass or plastic enclosure is perfect for this python to climb and stretch out. This species enjoys climbing when given the opportunity, so height is an important consideration when picking out an enclosure for them.
Some Children’s pythons can be defensive and wary of handling, but most adjust quickly to being held as they age. The only reason this snake doesn’t rank higher is because of its simple appearance. They have a mottled brown back and cream belly.
12. African House Snake
The African house snake is a medium-sized beginner snake that is growing in popularity as a pet. In their native range in sub-Saharan Africa, these snakes are known for living near dwellings and humans.
As far as appearances go, the African house snake is relatively simple. They are dark brown with a pale underbelly and lighter stripes on their back and sides. Because of their color and range, they are also known as the brown house snake.
Unfortunately, African house snakes can be hard to find for sale. It may take some time searching before you can find a reputable captive breeder. However, the good qualities of this snake make the search well worth it for new snake owners.
African house snakes can be nervous and shy at first. To reduce stress, they need to be kept in a quiet room without bright lights or sudden noises. They can grow used to handling and are generally docile, provided their enclosure helps them feel safe and hidden.
11. Pueblan Milk Snake
The pueblan milk snake is a confident, active, and colorful snake that is kept as a pet around the world. It is one of 25 subspecies of milk snakes, which are known for being great pets.
This snake’s bright colors are meant as a warning to potential predators. The colors confuse predators into thinking this snake is venomous. They have yellow or white bands surrounded by black and red bands in a black-yellow-red pattern. They look almost identical to the venomous coral snake, but are harmless and do not produce venom.
Adult milk snakes average four feet in length, and are light and agile. They are also excellent escape artists. It is important to house this species in a secure enclosure with a tight-fitting lid. Adults can be kept in a 40-gallon tank with décor such as branches, plants, and boxes for hiding.
We recommend milk snakes for previous snake owners who want a colorful and adventurous new species. Their feisty attitudes and penchant for escaping can be a lot for a complete novice.
10. Dekay’s Brown Snake
The Dekay’s brown snake is considered by many to be one of the best beginner pet snakes available.
Dekay’s brown snakes are brown or gray, with a darker brown checkerboard pattern on their body. Most individuals also have a dark stripe below the eye and just behind the head. Though relatively small and plain, this snake has a big personality once it overcomes its initial shyness.
It may not be the most beautiful snake on the list, but it is perfect for beginner snake owners with no experience. Adult Dekay’s brown snake only reach 13 inches in length making them easy to handle.
Due to their small size, this species can be kept in a 20-gallon long enclosure. They do best on a natural substrate like organic potting soil, packed coconut fiber, or bark. A slightly cool ambient temperature of 72-78°F with a basking spot of 83-85°F is ideal for this species, along with an ambient humidity of 50-60%.
Dekay’s brown snakes have a very simple diet. They do not need to be fed rodents. Instead, these snakes can be fed insects, earthworms, slugs, and fish.
9. Rough Green Snake
Are you a beginner looking for a bright, easy snake that does not take up much room?
Rough green snakes are bright, lime green with a white or yellow belly and round, dark eyes. Their color allows them to camouflage in the leaves and branches where they hunt for insects, frogs, and invertebrates in trees.
The rough green snake is a popular first pet snake that is native to North America. Unfortunately, due to their popularity, juveniles are collected in the wild and sold in pet stores. To be a responsible owner, look for a captive-bred pet species, instead of a wild-caught.
A rough green snake can be housed comfortably in a 30-gallon tall tank with a tight lid. These snakes are docile, but are quick and agile, making it best to handle them in a secure location.
8. California Kingsnake
The California Kingsnake is a hardy, active species native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. They are popular as beginner pet snakes because of their calm personalities and ease of care.
Kingsnakes do not require special equipment to stay healthy, as long as they are kept in a suitable enclosure.
An adult California kingsnake can be kept in a 40-gallon long terrarium with a 90°F basking spot and 80-84°F ambient temperature. However, these snakes have to be housed alone. The name “kingsnake” comes from their habit of eating other snakes.
California kingsnakes are white with wide black saddles along their spines. They grow no longer than six feet, though four feet is more common. They should not be confused for the also popular Mexican Black Kingsnake.
7. Garter Snake
Garter snakes are the most adaptable and resilient species on this list. They are also one of the most common snake species in North America.
Garters make great pet snakes because they are active and curious. As a bonus, they are fully diurnal, meaning that they will be active during the day.
They are relatively slim and small snakes, especially males. Females grow to about three feet, while males stay closer to two feet. The most popular species, the common garter snake, is dark gray or black with three yellow stripes running down its spine.
It may take several handling sessions before a garter snake enjoys being held. Some individuals can take even longer to warm up to handling. When threatened, they may bite or secrete musk as a warning.
6. Rosy Boa
The rosy boa is a perfect choice for someone who wants a boa without the large size. These snakes are one of the smallest varieties of boa and one of the overall best beginner snake species. They are slow-moving, easy to handle, attractive, and calm.
Rosy boas are cream or light gray with three pink, red, or orange stripes down their body from head to tail. Like most boas, these snakes are muscular and round. They can be anywhere between one to three feet at adulthood.
Their small size, when combined with their calm demeanor, makes them manageable for a snake owner of any skill level.
A fully grown rosy boa will thrive in a 30-gallon tank. Use a heat lamp, basking bulb, or under-tank heater to create a temperature gradient from 75°F to 92°F.
Additionally, since this species is found in the desert, they also need a humidity of around 40%.
5. Kenyan Sand Boa
The Kenyan sand boa is the last of the miniature boas on this list. Like the rosy boa, this species grows no longer than three feet and is known for its charming and gentle behavior. This is a heat-loving small snake with a lot of charm.
Kenyan sand boas are native to the deserts of eastern Africa. They are unique because they burrow under the sand to ambush prey. To help them burrow their eyes and nostrils are placed far up on their heads, giving them a cartoonish appearance that many people find cute.
These snakes have a cream underbelly and orange back covered in brown blotches. As with other popular species, there are many morphs available for sale too.
Caring for and housing sand boas is easy. A 15 to 20-gallon glass tank is perfect for even the largest individual; just make sure they have three inches of loose substrate for burrowing. The trickiest part of keeping this species is maintaining the 50% humidity.
4. Rat Snake
Rat snakes are inexpensive, friendly, and beautiful snakes that are found widely across North America and Europe. It is common to find them in habitats from humid swamps to rocky deserts.
There are over 45 species of rat snake to choose from. This diverse group comes in different colors, patterns, and sizes. The most common pet rat snake, the black rat snake, is black with a white belly. This species is one of the largest, reaching six feet or more when fully grown.
Rat snakes make great companions for a novice snake owner who is confident in their ability to handle larger species. Most are docile and well-adjusted to life in captivity, however some can be temperamental.
The black rat snake, for example, does not need much besides a UV lamp, heat source, large water bowl, 30-gallon tall tank and decor for climbing. They are not picky about substrate, so aspen shavings, newspaper, wood chips, or potting soil are all acceptable. Most take well to feeding on frozen-thawed mice, rats, and chicks.
3. Hognose Snake
The hognose snake is loved by enthusiasts of all skill levels. This small species has plenty of character and an unforgettable appearance.
Hognose snakes grow to a maximum of three feet and have rough, almost prickly scales. Their most distinguishing feature is the upturned scale on the front of their faces, which gives them the name “hognose.”
Thanks to their upturned snouts, hognose snakes are skilled diggers. They spend much of their time underneath the substrate. They are also known for being curious and interested in their owners and surroundings.
These snakes can be defensive, but almost always bluff. It is common to see them hissing, playing dead, or puffing out their necks instead of biting.
2. Ball Python
The ball python is one of the most widely-kept pet snakes in the world.
Ball pythons have made a name for themselves as one of the best snakes for beginners. They are especially good for keepers with no prior experience as they are calm and easy to care for.
A standard ball python is dark brown with a pale belly and black, wavy stripes and spots across their bodies. However, they are many morphs that come in different colors and patterns.
Ball pythons are heavy snakes, but grow to different sizes based on their sex. Females reach 4-5 feet, while males stay close to 3 feet and are a lot lighter. A large female can still happily live in a 40-gallon enclosure.
These snakes are not as active as the other species on this list. Instead, they prefer to stay hidden. Give them plenty of hides, plants, and other décor to keep them comfortable and relaxed. They get their name for the defensive ball they make when they feel threatened.
1. Corn Snake
The corn snake tops our list as the best pet snake.
This species is suitable for someone with no experience and is even calm enough to be kept by children. Its price, personality, availability, size, and simple care requirements make it the top our list.
Most corn snakes are a beautiful red, orange, and yellow pattern with a checkered black and white belly. However, there are hundreds of corn snake morphs to choose from too. No two corn snakes are the same!
Corn snakes are slender and not heavy or strong like a python. However, they do need a 40-gallon enclosure because of their high activity levels. These snakes need a basking temperature of 90°F and an ambient temperature of 78°F on the cool side.
Thanks to their charming personalities and easy care, this snake is the best species for new keepers.
Keeping Pet Snakes
Snakes are a beautiful and unique group of reptiles. Just like lizards make fantastic pets, snakes do too! However, they do need a proper setup, diet, and regular care. In general, they live for a long time, are low-maintenance, and are resistant to health issues.
Getting a snake is a long-term commitment with its own challenges and rewards.
New owners are often surprised at how much they enjoy keeping snakes!
The biggest downside of keeping a snake pet is that it will not be cuddly and affectionate like a cat or dog. Most snakes do just fine without being handled or interacting with their owners. However some species, such as ball pythons and corn snakes, are known for being more relaxed and tolerable of gentle, regular handling.
Like fish, many snakes are kept for their ornamental value. Species come in an almost endless variety of colors, patterns, and sizes, including intricate browns, bright greens, and even rainbow hues!
Snakes are very different in terms of care and behavior than most traditional small pets.
Like all reptiles, snakes are ectotherms (i.e. “cold-blooded”). This means their internal body temperature is controlled by the outside environment. Because of this snakes need special equipment, like heat lamps and thermostats, that most pets do not.
The species listed here generally require only basic equipment.
However, it is important to research each species in-depth before adopting. You need to make sure you know exactly how to care for it.
|African House Snake
|Black, brown, and cream
|Black and white
|Red and orange
|Dekay’s Brown Snake
|Black and yellow
|Brown and tan
|Kenyan Sand Boa
|Brown and orange
|Pueblan Milk Snake
|Black, yellow, and red
|Orange with rainbow sheen
|Black and white
|Pink and gray
|Rough Green Snake
|White and tan
The best snakes for beginners are calm, cheap, easy to care for, and hardy.
However, no species of snake is perfect. They are not domesticated and were only introduced as pets relatively recently. Each snake’s personality will vary between individuals. So, no matter what species you buy, make sure to research its needs before buying.
Keeping a snake is a unique and rewarding experience that can’t be found with more traditional pets.
Whether you are looking to buy a snake as your first pet, or have already kept reptiles, we are confident that any snake on our list will make a great choice.
What species are you interested in? Let us know!