A Guide to Owning a Snake

Snakes may not come to everyone's mind when they think of a pet, but for those who aren't into furry and fuzzy and want a pet that's going to draw some attention, snakes are a perfect choice.

Remember, though, pet snakes are a big commitment. They live on average 15 to 20 years, so owning one is not something to take lightly.

Popular Pet Snakes

Though most snakes can be trained with proper care, there are some breeds that are easier to domesticate and will make better pets. Common types of snakes that make great pets include:

  • King snakes: Many wannabe snake owners are drawn to king snakes for their distinctive markings and colors, but they are also very easy to care for, which makes them a smart pet choice.
  • Ball pythons: Overall, ball pythons are a laid-back breed, and when they do get nervous, they are more likely to roll into a ball than attempt to attack.
  • Corn snakes: Corn snakes have been a popular pet choice for years and are one of the most common domesticated snakes.

Other breeds, such as the rat snake, are known to be skittish, while breeds like the bull snake are often considered too large and too temperamental to make good pets. Still, with proper training by experienced snake owners, even these breeds can be kept as pets.

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Buying Pet Snakes

Buying snakes is really no different than buying a puppy or any other kind of pet. You have the option of going to the pet store and choosing from what's available or tracking down a breeder who has exactly what you're looking for.

Wherever you find snakes for sale, you'll want to get some kind of assurance that the snake is in good health and is free from parasites. You can also do your own check on the snake's health by looking for signs of disease or health problems, such as sloughing scales or weeping eyes.

What You'll Need Before You Buy

Before you bring your pet snake home, you'll need to ensure you have a proper home for it. Ten-gallon snake cages (which are actually more like tanks) are commonly used to start baby snakes, but the tank size will need to increase depending on the age and breed of the snake. Make sure it has a secure lid, too.

A snake's home is more than just a tank, though — you'll need to line the tank with substrate, provide a watering bowl and create hides or limbs for the snake to wind itself on. You'll also need climate control options like a heating pad or mister.

Specific snake care will vary by breed, so be sure you read up before you bring home your new pet.