Pets help us in many ways.
They provide companionship, they help relieve stress, they make us laugh, and so much more.
They may not be able to pat us on the back and give us a pep talk, but their mere presence picks us up when we’re feeling down.
But what about snakes?
They’re certainly not ass cuddly as a dog or as hilarious as a cat. Can a snake provide the same benefits?
It can. But not in the same way, of course.
Moreover, many breeds of snake are incredibly low-maintenance. They are far easier to care for than many other pets. And then there’s the “cool-factor.”
Add it all up, do snakes make good pets? Let’s find out. We’ll also go over what it takes to care for a snake, so you have a good idea what exactly to expect.
Table of Contents
- 1 Do Snakes Make Good Pets?
- 2 Why Snakes Make Good Pets
- 3 Good Pet Snakes For Complete Beginners
- 4 Looking After A Pet Snake
- 4.1 How To Set Up A Snake’s Habitat
- 4.2 How To Feed Your Snake
- 4.3 How To Keep Your Snake Healthy And Happy
- 5 Are Snakes Good Pets: Final Thoughts
Do Snakes Make Good Pets?
Yes, they do, because they are low-maintenance and generally easy to care for them. Of course some species require a lot of space and effort, but smaller snakes are usually easy pets. Any of these beginner snakes are wonderful for a new pet owner.
Of course, snakes do not give you the same kind of affection a dog will. If that is what you want in a pet, then snakes are not for you.
But even without the affection, having a snake will afford you all of the benefits of having any other type of pet. Plus they’re easier to care for than most.
Benefits Of Having Pets
Not only do pets provide great company, studies also show that they can have a positive effect on our health in other ways. Some of the ways they benefit our health are:
- Having a pet can help lower your blood pressure
- They can also help maintaining cardiovascular health
- They can help reduce stress; loneliness is cause of stress and having a pet helps alleviate loneliness
- Pets can help increasing your self-esteem
- Having a pet helps you live in the moment instead, instead of stressing over past problems or future worries
- Pets help fulfill our need for touch
- Pets can make us laugh, which always puts us in a better mood
These are just some benefits of having pets. There are a lot more and they do vary somewhat, depending on the type of pet you keep.
People keep different pets that range from cats and dogs to horses to peacocks to even tigers and other rare and exotic creatures. As mentioned, snakes are one of the easier animals to keep, because they do not require as much effort in terms of daily care.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons snakes are great pets.
Why Snakes Make Good Pets
Before we get into the reasons, we need to note that we are talking about snakes raised in captivity. You should always buy your snake from a reputable breeder, and never catch it yourself in the wild.
Captured snakes are wild and very difficult to tame. They will have a hard time adjusting to life in a restricted environment. They also tend to be riddled with parasites and diseases.
Captive-raised snakes are used to living in restricted enclosure and are usually already tame. You should still get them examined for diseases or parasites, but they should not have too many issues. They are also used to eating dead food, so you won’t have trouble trying to get them to eat your thawed mice or rats, etc.
Now let’s take a look at 7 reasons snakes make great pets.
1. Low Maintenance
Snakes require much less of your time and attention than more common pets like cats or dogs. They also won’t scratch your furniture or chew up your shoes.
You’ll need to keep their enclosure clean, which requires a brief daily check and a monthly deep clean, and you’ll need to keep them fed. Snakes generally eat once every week or two, but may not eat at all during the winter. You may not like the idea of feeding them mice or rats, but you can also get a breed that eats insects or one that only eats eggs.
Apart from that, you really only need to provide them the right living conditions, so make sure you know what temperature and humidity levels your breed likes.
2. No Grooming Required
Snakes shed their skin several times a year, so you really don’t need to do any grooming. As long as you provide the proper humidity levels, the shed should go fine. If it does not, you may have to pick little patches of dead skin off your snake.
You also want to make sure your snake has a water dish that is large enough for it to bathe in. Not only does this help during shedding time, but it also allows your pet to take baths, making your life even easier. Just make sure to change the water often, so that it does not need to drink its own filth, which could make it sick.
Snakes are fascinating to watch. Even when they don’t do much, it is still difficult to tear yourself away. If you’ve ever visited someone’s home who has a snake, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Unlike dogs or cats, who love to make their presence known, snakes do not really make any noise. They do hiss at times, but that is barely audible. They will not bark all night long or meow at you until you pay them attention.
5. Low Space Requirements
Snakes are fine spending most, or even all, of their time in their enclosure. And they don’t need all that much space, in relation to their body size. That said, do not be one of those snake owners that stuffs their pet into a tiny space.
Make sure you give it plenty of room to feel comfortable. It is still far less of your home you are giving up than with a cat, for instance, which will take over your entire house.
Watching a snake, you learn a lot you did not know before. You might not have known that they have no ears or that that snakes can’t blink, but when you have one in your home, you notice those things.
More importantly, if you have children, having a pet snake teaches them that there is no need to be afraid of snakes. That is an important lesson everyone should learn.
9. Not Dangerous
Of course there are dangerous snakes, but as already mentioned, you should not get one of those as a first time owner. Most snakes are harmless and even the dangerous ones don’t actually mean to harm us. They only strike when they themselves are frightened. Treat your snake well and it will be nice to you, too.
Now that we know why (some) snakes are great pets, let’s take a look at some of the easier snakes to keep as pets and what it takes to care for one.
Good Pet Snakes For Complete Beginners
Unless you have a lot of experience with snakes, you should stay away from large constrictors or venomous snakes, like Bоа constrictors, Burmese pythons, trее Bоаѕ, wаtеr ѕnаkеѕ, grееn ѕnаkеѕ, anacondas, elephant trunk snakes and reticulated pythons. These snakes can be dangerous and could even get you, or someone else, killed.
The following are all docile snakes that are great for first time owners, because they do not get large and they do not require much care or specialized equipment.
Corn snakes are one of the most commonly kept and readily available snakes. The primary reason is their size. They never get very large and can be kept in a fairly small enclosure. Learn all this species in our article on caring for a corn snake.
Next on our list is the California King Snake. This snake is easy to feed, because it eats a wide variety of prey, like insects, rodents, and even other snakes. They also do not get too large.
Third in our list is the Rosy Boa. They also stay small in size. The maximum length they grow to is around 4 feet. Rosy Boas aren’t as popular among snake owners as the other species on this list, but we’re not sure why. They are just as good as pets and we have an whole article dedicated to rosy boa care.
Gopher snakes are also very easy to find and inexpensive to buy. They can grow to 4 to 6 feet in length. They also weigh a bit more than the other snakes listed here, but they are still easy to keep. They can live 15 years or more.
The ball python is the final snake on our list of easy-to-keep pets. They are extremely popular because of their demeanor and because of the many morphs, like the banana ball python. The are actually a bit shy in nature and this endears them to people.
The ball python is probably our number one pick for a new snake owner who isn’t sure which breed to get. The corn snake is our other top choice. Read our article comparing ball pythons and corn snakes for more.
While ball pythons are thicker than other small snakes, they do not grow very long. Males generally reach 2 to 3 feet in length, while the larger females grow to 3 to 5 feet. Our guide on caring for a ball python has more.
Now that you know which snakes are particularly good for beginners, let’s take a look at what it takes to care for one of them and keep it happy and healthy.
Looking After A Pet Snake
Looking after a snake means providing a suitable habitat and maintaining it, meeting your pet’s nutritional needs, and keeping it safe, comfortable, healthy and happy. It boils down to the following 3 primary tasks. We’ll get into more detail on each one below.
- Arrange a Shelter: you need to set up a habitat where your snake can live comfortably and where you are comfortable keeping your snake.
- Feed your Snake: you need to give your snake the right kind of food at the right times
- Maintain your Snake’s Health: you need maintain the ideal environment for your snake, keep its habitat sanitary, make sure it always has plenty of fresh water, monitor for any signs of sickness and regularly take it to a vet for a checkup
How To Set Up A Snake’s Habitat
Here is what goes into setting up a snake habitat. We also have a much more detailed article on setting up a terrarium.
A terrarium needs to be the right size and type (read all about choosing the best enclosure) and you will need a separate one for each snake you have, since they are not social creatures.
Because snakes are cold-blooded, they use the environment to regulate their body temperature. To that end, they need a hot spot in their enclosure.
Ideally, you want one side to be hot and one to be cool, so that they have a temperature gradient. How warm each side should be depends on the species. The best ways to provide this are to use a heating bulb on one side of the enclosure, or to place a heating mat beneath one side.
You need to fill the bottom of the enclosure with a substrate your snake can use as bedding. The best substrates help regulate humidity and are not too hard to clean when soiled. Avoid materials that could be toxic to your snake. Read our article on the best substrate materials for help in choosing an appropriate one.
Most snakes like dark places where they can hide. Ideally you want to give your snake two such hiding spots. One should be on the warm side of the terrarium and one on the cool side.
The hideouts need to be large enough to accommodate the snake’s entire body, but not much larger. If it is not a snug fit, your snake won’t feel comfortable. For help in finding good snake hides, read our article on the best hiding places for snakes.
Snakes like to climb things, like trees. While you can’t put a tree inside a terrarium, but you can give your pet a similar experience with various vines and branches.
But don’t just grab some from a nearby forest. You could easily bring parasites into the enclosure and make your snake sick. Our article on the best climbing branches and vines will help you find the right one.
How To Feed Your Snake
Snakes prefer to eat live prey, but this is not generally a good idea for captive snakes. Luckily, you can easily train them to eat pre-killed or thawed prey.
What they eat depends on the snake. For most, frozen mice are rats are best, because they are easy to buy in most pet stores and can be found on Amazon as well.
You should feeding a small or young snake at least once or twice a week. Older snakes don’t need food as often as young snakes. Once a week to once every three weeks is usually sufficient, depending on the breed. If you are not sure if your snake needs food, the easiest way to find out is to offer it some. If it doesn’t need anything, it simply won’t eat.
Make It Enticing
Sometimes snakes don’t want to eat what you are presenting them, even though they actually need food. This can be due to a number of reasons. If it happens, try making the meal more enticing, by wiggling it around in front to them for a few minutes. Seeing it move around can awaken their instinct to hunt.
Another trick to try is to cover the enclosure with a cloth and leave it covered for an hour, or even a few hours. A little bit of privacy can make your snake feel more comfortable eating.
Feed Live Prey
I know I said not to use live prey, but some snakes simply won’t eat anything else. If you have such a snake, go ahead and give it live food. If it eats insects, this is no problem, but with rodents, there is a danger the prey could hurt the snake. Keep an eye out for this and take your snake to see a vet if it suffers an injury.
How To Keep Your Snake Healthy And Happy
In addition to shelter and food, your snake also needs a few other things to keep it happy and in good health.
You’ll want to check the enclosure at least once a day to remove any soiled substrate and feces (since they eat infrequently, they also have infrequent bowel movements. Once a month, you should do a complete clean and replace the substrate entirely.
Take everything out of the terrarium and wash both the terrarium and all of the accessories with a safe cleaning solution. Let it dry completely before replacing everything. Try to put it all back as close to the way it was before as possible.
Give your snake fresh water at least once a day. They often soil the water, so you want to make sure to replace dirty water as quickly as possible.
You should always monitor your snake for signs of illness, but it is also a good idea to take it to see a vet on a regular basius, just to make sure it is in good health.
Are Snakes Good Pets: Final Thoughts
Snakes make great pets, but they’re not for everyone. They will never learn to recognize their owner like a dog does.
How good a pet a snake makes also depends on the species. Naturally, venomous snakes are not good pets. There are also many non-venomous snakes that make bad pets. Some are simply to big and others, like red bellied water snakes, have very stringent habitat and food requirements that are difficult to get right.
The ones we listed above are all very popular, specifically because they are small and easy to care for. Hopefully you found a snake you like and our brief overview of what it takes to care for a snake gave you an idea of what to expect.
So, what do you think? Are you going to go ahead and get a snake? Which one? Feel free to answer in the comments below.