Have you been reading more and more about snakes and would like to get one as a pet? Snakes are truly amazing, but you would need to pick one that is suitable for you, and one that you can take care of properly. In this post, you will find a list of 17 best pet snakes for beginners, what makes them good for beginners, and some on the pros/cons and care requirements.
All the best pet snakes for beginners in this post are non-venomous and easier to care for than other snake species (in no particular order). Please learn about their care and set up a cage before bringing one home. You can read care sheet and find setup guides on this website.
Before you choose a pet snake, please consider and remember following:
- Make sure that the snake you would like to get is legal in your state/country to keep. Never capture snakes from the wild.
- Almost all pet snakes are squirmy/nippy when young, and would need regular handling to tame down.
- Most snake pets are good escape artists, so you would need a cage with well-fitting lids/tops.
#1: Ball python
Ball python is one of the best pet snakes for beginners – they are non-venomous popular pet snake that you can get. They make great pets because of their shy and docile demeanor and reluctance to attack.
Ball pythons also don’t get too large, with females often growing bigger than males. Full grown adult ball pythons (3 years and over) reach 3-5 feet long (91-152cm), rarely up to 5.9 feet (182 cm). Some males can reach only 2-2.5 feet (61-76 cm) long.
Ball pythons are nocturnal, so they mostly hide during the day. You must provide them with a tight fitting hide on each side of the cage and create a temperature gradient.
Ball pythons require a slightly high humidity (60-80%), so a plastic tub or PVC caging is more ideal. You will need to feed your ball python mice, or better rats. Young ball pythons will eat every 5-7 days, and then you will need to feed only once in 7-10 days (and up to once in 2 weeks for adults).
You will need to provide heat with an under tank pad or a lamp. Ball pythons do not require UVB lighting or very bright in-tank lighting. A ball python will do fine in a 30 gallon cage, but a 40+ gallon is ideal for an adult.
You are very likely to tame a ball python and it will tolerate handling. Younger ball pythons can be nippy, but handling and time often tames them down.
One of the cons of ball pythons is that they can be picky eaters, and go off feed for months. However, if you research their care and make sure everything is optimal, your ball python will be fine.
#2: Corn snake
Corn snake is another great choice for a beginner pet snake. That’s because corn snakes are not likely to attack or bite their owners, are passive and can tolerate handling. They live for a long time too – 15-20+ years with good care.
Corn snakes require a warm environment that you can achieve with a heating bulb and/or heating pad. What is more, corn snakes are slim and can reach 2-5 feet (3-4 feet average, rarely up to 6). They reach adult size in 2-3 years.
An enclosure of 10-20 gallons will be sufficient for a young corn snake, and then you can upgrade to 30-40+ gallons. It’s better to keep young corn snakes in a smaller enclosure with a tight lid as they are good escape artists. You will also have to provide tight secure hides, some branches and other clutter in the cage.
Corn snakes do not require high humidity levels (45-50%, up to 60% when shedding), so might be kept in PVC, wooden, plastic, and glass tanks. They are also widely available and affordable (sometimes you can rehome one for free).
#3: Gopher snake
Gopher snake is another great beginner pet snake. They are generally docile, sometimes shy when young, but often become docile and tolerate handling with regular sessions. Gopher snakes are also beautiful, widely available and affordable.
What is more, they have a decent lifespan – with good care, can live for 20-30 years! In the wild or with poor care, it can be as low as 10-15 years. An adult gopher snake can reach 3-6 (sometimes up to 7-8, average 4-5) feet long (90 cm – 2.4 meters).
Gopher snakes don’t require high humidity (similarly to corn snakes, in the range of 50-55%). This allows you to keep them in a PVC, glass, wooden or plastic tank. You can start a young gopher snake with a 20-30 gallon tank, and move to 3-4+ foot long (2 feet high and deep) minimum when it becomes an adult. Gophers need to be fed rodent prey items.
#4: Rosy boa
Rosy boa is another great pet snake for a beginner (and everyone else). What makes them a great pet is a smaller size, docility, good temperament, tolerance to handling. Rosy boas are also beautiful, with nice coloration and patterns.
Rosy boas live for 20-30 years, and sometimes even longer. Another great thing is that Rosy boas don’t get too large – 1.5-4 feet (46-122 cm). Females often get larger than males.
Smaller size means that they don’t require a huge enclosure. You can keep a hatchling and baby rosy boa in a 10 gallon cage, and then move to a 20-40 gallon tank. They don’t also require high humidity levels (45-50%), so you can house them in a variety of tanks.
#5: California Kingsnake
California Kingsnake is another good beginner pet snake. They do not grow too large and can become tolerant of handling if you take your time with them regularly. Also, they are active and curious. California Kingsnakes also have an interesting black/white coloration with cute eyes.
These snakes do not get too large, reaching around 3-4 feet (91-122 cm) long, rarely up to 4.5-5 feet long (137-152 cm). That means that a California Kingsnake would not need a very large enclosure (40 gallons+ for an adult).
California Kingsnakes are hardy and strong, and are known to eat various small animals, including other snakes and lizards, in the wild. In captivity, you would need to offer them rodent prey items.
New and younger California Kingsnakes can be a bit nippy, but often become friendly and very tolerant of handling with time.
#6: Garter snake
Garter snake (Eastern) is another great beginner pet snake. That’s because they are not aggressive and rather small in size. They are also colorful, active and interesting to watch.
Garter snakes don’t have a very long lifespan, which can be both a good and bad thing, depending on your commitments. They can live for around 7-12 years on average.
Garter snakes reach around 1.5-3 feet/46-91cm long (less often up to 4 feet/122cm long). This makes them easier to handle and keep due to smaller caging requirements. A 30-40+ gallon tank for an adult is optimal.
However, a Garter snake would require UVB and lighting as it’s active during the day. What is more, in the wild, Garter snakes feed on many different prey items, so you could try to mimic a varied diet. They can eat rodents, worms, toads, frogs, salamanders etc.
In general, Garter snakes are great snake pets, and not too hard to care for if you research their care beforehand. You might need some patience to make it more docile, but this is similar to all pet snakes.
#7: Milk snake
Milk snakes are another group of good beginner pet snakes. There are more than 20 subspecies of Milk snakes, and they are beautiful in color and rather easy to care for.
Milk snakes also don’t get too big and are not generally too active, meaning they won’t require a huge enclosure (30-40 gallons is often optimal, but can vary). They reach 3-4 feet (91-122 cm) long.
Some Milk snakes might not be too friendly, especially in the beginning, so you might need to be patient and keep handling to tame it down. Make sure to house separately as they can be cannibalistic towards each other. You would need to feed them rodents.
#8: Boa constrictor
While a Boa constrictor can be a good beginner pet snake, you must know some cons that a beginner might have difficulties with. Generally, Boa constrictors can be very exciting for first time snake keepers, but please do through research if you are interested in getting one.
Boa constrictors are heavy bodied snakes, which get very large (5-10 feet/152-305 cm) on average. This means that this snake will require an enclosure that is 4-6 feet long x 2-3 feet wide & height. They also require warm temperatures and a slightly high humidity levels (55-75%).
Having said that, Boa constrictors are not generally hard to care for. They are also hardy, beautiful, docile and good eaters. However, their size might make it hard to handle and house them, so consider this as well.
If you are beginner, it’s better to consider getting a dwarf male boa constrictor (smaller in size). Boa constrictor imperator is also a good choice.
#9: Glossy snake
Glossy snake (Arizona elegans) is not a very popular snake pet, but is a good choice for beginner snake keepers. These snakes make good pets for beginners because they are calm, beautiful, easy to keep and feed.
Glossy snakes are rather small, reaching around 30-50 inches (75–130 cm) long. They don’t need any specific lighting or UVB and can thrive in a rather small enclosure of 20-30+ gallons. It will require hiding spots in a cage and rather low humidity levels, allowing keepers to choose from a variety of caging options.
Glossy snakes are carnivores and mainly eat lizards, amphibians and rodents in the wild. If you decide to get one, make sure it has already been switched to rodents. Otherwise, you might have issues switching it and would require to feed more than just rodents (can be challenging for beginners or to generally find & manage).
#10: Kenyan Sand Boa
Kenyan sand boa (of generally East African Sand boa due to a vast range of localities) is another great beginner pet snake. They are of manageable size, rather laid back and easy to feed. What is more, they are often widely available and are beautiful (vivid colorations).
Kenyan sand boas reach around 20 inches (49 cm) for males and 2-3 feet long (61-91 cm) for females. Because of their manageable size, you won’t need to get a large enclosure for them.
Around 20+ gallons for an adult is optimal. They also don’t require high humidity levels, so you can choose from a different types of caging materials. Feeding Kenyan sand boas is easy – they will require smaller sized rodent prey items only.
#11: Antaresia genus snakes (Spotted python, Children’s python, Stimson’s python, Pygmy python)
Antaresia genus consists of pythons that are much smaller than other python species. Having said that, they are great pets to keep. That’s because they are hardy, don’t require much space and are generally docile.
These pythons make great beginner pets because they are thin and small, unlike many other pythons. Antaresia genus pythons reach only 2-4 feet (61-122 cm) long. The only cons is that they can be fragile due to size, so you would need to handle with care.
Antaresia pythons are long-lived snakes (20-30+ years with good care) and don’t require huge enclosures. A 30-40+ gallon tank is optimal for an adult spotted python. They are also good eaters, and readily accept rodent prey items.
#12: Murray Darling python (Morelia spilota metcalfei)
Murray Darling pythons are great beginner pet snakes. They are often docile, laid back, easy to care for and tolerant of handling. They have a long lifespan of around 20-30+ years, which is a commitment as well.
However, these snakes get very big, and can reach up to 9 feet (2.7 m) long! This is great for someone who wants a big snake, and can provide housing for it, because otherwise, they are not too hard to take care of. They are also good eaters.
Murray Darling pythons belong to a genus of Morelia (carpet pythons) and few species in this genus are good for beginners. Another good beginner snake in this genus is Bredli, or Centralian Carpet python. Green tree pythons (Morelia viridis), however, are not good choice for beginners.
#13: Woma python
Woma pythons are one of the best beginner pet snakes. They are generally docile with handling, hardy, good eaters, beautiful and interesting to watch.
Woma pythons can reach 4.5 to 6 feet on average, so you would need to house it in a 40-50+ gallon cage. Hatchlings and babies can be started out in a 10-20 gallon tanks and then upgraded after 10 months or so.
Woma pythons will need a temperature gradient and some climbing spots. They are also good eaters, and you will need to feed rodent prey items.
Thank you for reading this post on best beginner pet snakes. If you would like to find care information for pet snakes, see this resource page.