PETS SNAKES FOR BEGINNERS
Pets Snakes For Beginners. Pet snakes have become a more commonplace pet nowadays, but like other pets, there are many different breeds to consider when choosing your first pet snake. This article will not only show you which pet snakes are the best for beginners, but will also give you all the info you need on keeping your new pet safe and comfortable in its new home.
First off, it’s important to note that not all snake breeds which are kept as pets are the best choice for beginner snake owners, as some have very specific needs and you need some more experience and know-how to keep them safe and comfortable. – Pets Snakes for Beginners
THE DIFFERENT SNAKES THAT ARE KEPT AS PETS
Although very experienced keepers may keep large snakes like rock pythons, reticulated pythons, and Burmese pythons as pets, these should all be avoided by the beginner snake keepers. There are five snake breeds which are considered to be good snake breeds for beginner snake owners as they are relatively easy to care for. These are:
- Corn snakes
- Ball pythons
- California kingsnakes
- Rosy boa
- Gopher snake
THE CORN SNAKE
The Corn snake (Pantherophis guttata) are probably the most well-known and popular of these snakes. Native to North America, there is very little not to like about corn snakes. They don’t grow too big, so can be kept in fairly small snake enclosures and they also have gorgeous color combinations and quite a docile disposition. While they will try to defend themselves when handled, a cat can do much more damage than a corn snake! Be sure to let your new snake settle for a few weeks and get it used to its routine before handling it too much. They usually tame quite quickly when they get used to you.
As corn snakes hatch at 8 to 12 inches long grow to about 4 – 5.5 feet in length, they are still small enough when mature to be handled with relative ease. They also have a lifespan of around 20 years and are reproductive until the age of 10 or 12.
HOUSING CORN SNAKES
Housing corn snakes are also not too big an undertaking, as the babies can easily live in plastic vivariums the size of a large shoebox for a few months before having to be moved. Adult corn snakes need an enclosure of at least 20 gallons long, although bigger is better. It is very important to only house one corn snake (or any snake) to an enclosure, as they are not social animals and having another snake in the same enclosure will be very stressful to them. Remember that the enclosure must be escape proof as snakes are quite the escape artist!
No special lighting or heating is required for corn snakes, but natural light will help it adjust its day and night cycles — but do avoid direct sunlight as direct sunlight could let the temperature rise to become lethal.
Corn snakes eat appropriately-sized rodents, with some even eating the occasional lizard or frog. Hatchlings will normally consume newborn mice. Adult snakes may also eat birds and bird eggs. They do not recognize crickets as food, however, so they should not be offered. Most corn snakes will learn to eat previously frozen (but completely thawed) mice. Adults only need to be fed every 7 to 10 days. – Pets Snakes for Beginners
THE BALL PYTHON
The Ball Python (Python regius) is also a very popular choice for a pet snake thanks to its many morphs and shy demeanor. Native to Central and West Africa, the ball python does need some humidity in its enclosure. Though not large (males grow to about 2 to 3 feet in length and females 3 to 5 feet in length), the ball python is heavy bodied. These are also long-lived snakes, with some surviving for more than 30 years in captivity.
Snake enclosures for ball pythons need to be around 3 feet in length and a 30-gallon enclosure works well. To keep the humidity up inside the enclosure, it’s important to not to use a screen top for ball pythons. The water bowl should also be large enough for the snake to soak in. – Pets Snakes for Beginners
Still, the ball python is in the top five of snakes perfect for beginners and thrives in captivity if well looked after. One enclosure accessory that is a must for a ball python is a good hide box — even a couple if the size of your enclosure allows it — as ball pythons are quite secretive creatures. You should also have a hot spot on one end of the enclosure and a cool spot on the other.
THE AMBIENT TEMPERATURE
The ambient temperature in the enclosure should not fall below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is very important to have a thermometer with which to check these temperatures instead of winging it. Humidity should also preferably be between 50 and 60 percent and will also help your ball python to shed properly. – Pets Snakes for Beginners
Ball pythons are normally fed an appropriately-sized rodent once a week, starting out with rat pups and moving up in size as they grow. Ball pythons can also eat thawed or pre-killed rodents, but you should not handle a ball python for a day after they have fed as this can lead to regurgitation. These pythons may also stop eating for certain times of the year (for instance winter), but there is usually no need for worry. – Pets Snakes for Beginners
When you do handle your ball python, don’t make sudden movements and give it time to learn who you are. As they are mostly shy and spend a lot of their time hiding, they need to learn not to fear you. You should be relaxed when holding your python so as to give it time to settle. It’s also best to avoid handling the snake when it is time to feed it. Excessive movement around the snake enclosure — by humans or pets — must be avoided. – Pets Snakes for Beginners
THE CALIFORNIA KINGSNAKE
(Lampropeltis getula californiae) are very popular as beginner snakes, although they have been described as “nippy”. In the wild the California kingsnake is an opportunistic feeder who will eat even other snakes, although they are not large snakes — averaging 3 to 4 in length. These California kingsnakes are also not a bulky or heavy snake, unlike the ball python, and often live for over 20 years, the females remaining fertile into their young teens. – Pets Snakes for Beginners
Your California kingsnake can be housed in a 20-gallon enclosure with a screened top, a hide, and suitable substrate. An under tank heater will be necessary, however, to help the snake thermoregulate, though no special lighting is required. Like with the ball python, the California kingsnake’s water bowl must be large enough for it to soak in. Remember to check that the snake enclosure is escape-proof, though, otherwise, they’ll definitely find a way out! Don’t use so-called “hot rocks” in the snake enclosure, as the centralized heat can cause burns. Rather use a heating pad.
KINGSNAKES WILL EAT OTHER SNAKES
Especially since California kingsnakes will eat other snakes, they should be kept alone or in breeding groups of no more than one male and several females. It is extremely important not to raise juvenile California kingsnakes together, as they could eat each other. They should be adult-sized — more than 2 feet — before being introduced. They should be fed separately. – Pets Snakes for Beginners
California kingsnakes in captivity should be fed rodents (usually mice), which can be either live or well-thawed. However, as live mice may inflict wounds, freshly-killed is a safer choice. Feed your California kingsnake once or twice a week.
The California kingsnakes can still be quite wild by nature even though bred in captivity. It may defecate or urinate on you when you pick it up as it is afraid, but with regular and gentle handling the snake should settle in and make a great pet. – Pets Snakes for Beginners
THE ROSY BOA
The Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata) may not be as popular as corn snakes, but is still a popular choice as it is fairly docile, tolerate handling well, and also doesn’t grow too large. The average size of the rosy boa is 2 to 3 feet in length, although they can grow to 4 feet. Like ball pythons and corn snakes, the rosy boas come in a variety of color patterns and morphs.
Rosy boas, given proper care, are very long-lived and may be expected to live 30 years or more in captivity. Their long lifespans should, therefore, also be taken into account when you think about getting a rosy boa. – Pets Snakes for Beginners
Thanks to their smaller size, rosy boas can live well in snake enclosures between 10 and 20 gallons, depending on their adult size. The enclosure must definitely be escape proof and screen tops are not really recommended for rosy boas. The enclosure should also not have an abrasive top, as this may cause rostral abrasion as rosy boas are notorious for rubbing their snouts against enclosure surfaces to find a way to escape. Special lighting is not necessary for rosy boas, although a thermal gradient is important. The temperature gradient can be 65 degrees (Fahrenheit) at one end and 90 degrees at the other. Remember to measure the temperature with a reptile habitat thermometer. The enclosure can be cooled to 55 degrees in winter and then slowly heated again once spring arrives. – Pets Snakes for Beginners
For feeding, rosy boas usually live on domesticated mice, starting on fuzzy mice (i.e. younger than 7 days old) when they are hatchlings and eating small adult mice when fully grown. Rosy boas need only be fed every one to two weeks during summer, spring, and fall.
THE GOPHER SNAKE
The Gopher Snake (Pituophis spp.) are also native to North America and are nonvenomous, ground-dwelling constrictors. They are hardy snakes and have minimal requirements when kept as a pet — which makes them perfect for beginners. They are bold and it’s their curiosity that makes them popular.
Gopher snake hatchlings are already a foot in length, with adults being between four and five feet generally, although some may grow to six feet. The enclosure for adult gopher snakes should be between 20 and 30 gallons, depending on their size. Larger snakes to best in enclosures that are four feet in length. Gopher snakes are very active and that is why they need a bit more space than other, similar-sized snakes. They are, however, also quite the escape artist and need to have secure enclosures.
Like the other snakes on this list, the gopher snake doesn’t need any special lighting, but the amount of light they do receive may affect their feeding and breeding responses. You can also use a heating pad to create a warmer area in the enclosure, ensuring that the snake can regulate its body temperature. Their water dish should also be large enough for them to soak in. However, they do not require extra humidity in their enclosure.
FEEDING YOUR GOPHER SNAKE
When feeding your gopher snake, you should be careful not to overfeed, as they have quite voracious appetites and will eat almost anything. Food should be offered only once a week. Hatchlings will start with mice, but adult snakes will most likely feed on rats. As live rodents may injure the snake, freshly killed or well-thawed rodents are the best choice and most gophers do not hesitate to eat these.
Gopher snakes are active during the day and love to explore their enclosures. Most are docile and can be handled easily. If they do not like to be handled, they will let you know thanks to their epiglottal keel (a throat flap that vibrates upon exhalation). They will also start to rattle their tail against the ground — hoping that you will mistake them for a rattlesnake. Regular handling, however, calms most snakes when given time. Gopher snakes learn to trust people over time and aren’t shy about exploring the world, making them one of the most engaging pet snakes! – Pets Snakes for Beginners
TIPS WHEN BUYING YOUR FIRST PET SNAKE:
Do your homework and be specific about the species you want to get and why you choose that species
Make sure you have an adequate place to put the snake enclosure in your house
Only buy your snake from reputable breeders — do not take snakes from the wild as pets
Please take some time to read – Do Snakes that Make Good Pets – A Beginners Guide