Are you buying a snake, but feeling overwhelmed? I’ve broken down the most common pet snakes below! Find your perfect scaly companion here!
Here are some of the most popular pet snake breeds:
- Corn Snake
- Ball Python
- California King Snake
- Western Hognose Snake
- Milk Snake
- Garter Snake
- Rough Green Snake
- Rosy Boa
- Rainbow Boa
- Green Tree Python
In this article, I will go over the top ten snake breeds for pets. For each breed, we will cover husbandry requirements, as well as personality traits, and any special considerations. I will discuss their temperament, handleability, and diet requirements. By the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive profile of each snake, and will be able to decide which reptile will make the best companion for you!
Table of Contents
1. Corn Snake
These mellow snakes are known for their handleability, and can live 20 years in captivity! They are considered an attractive beginner snake due to their vibrant colors and docile personality.
Corn snakes are not known for biting and are considered the least aggressive snake on this list.
These stunning snakes reach an adult size of 3 to 6 feet, making them easier to manage than some other bulky noodles on this list. They need a temperature of about 80 degrees and a basking spot of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. These colorful snakes need 65% humidity to keep them healthy, as this breed is susceptible to fungi and bacterial infections.
Frozen, captive-bred rodents are their preferred diet. This would be a perfect introduction snake for someone who is looking for an easy-to-care-for friend with beautiful colors.
2. Ball Python
Ball Pythons are popular pets because of their accessibility, color patterns, and calm temperament. These nocturnal snakes are docile and shy but easier to handle. Their first instinct when threatened is not to lash out and bite, but to curl up in a ball as a defensive mechanism. Most can be handled briefly without causing stress.
Their main diet should consist of rodents but they are known to be picky eaters. They will fast due to stress, and hunger strikes can be a frequent obstacle handlers need to overcome.
These burrowers require a basking spot of 96 degrees and an ambient temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity levels hovering around 45-75%.
These constrictor snakes can reach up to 5 feet and live 30 years in captivity with proper husbandry. Ball Pythons are perfect for night owls looking for a long-term friendship with a handleable snake.
3. California King Snake
California King Snakes are docile ground dwellers who make hardy pets and are active during the day. They will grow to be about 4 feet long and will live around 15 years.
They will enjoy ambient temperatures of around 78 degrees and a basking spot of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If their tank becomes too hot, they will start to hide during the day to stay cool. Humidity levels need to be around 45%.
These constrictors should be fed primarily frozen rodents. They are not known to bite in captivity and are considered docile enough to hold regularly. If they do bite, it is not a medical emergency.
These snakes are a good choice for a beginner herp keeper seeking a smaller snake to handle occasionally.
4. Western Hognose Snake
These petite snakes will top out at 3 feet long and will live up to 20 years in captivity. They use their upturned snouts for burrowing in their enclosure, so having sufficient substrate is important.
With frequent handling, these snakes will become accustomed to human interaction. Hognose Snakes rarely bite, opting to show they are intimidated by playing dead or head butting your hand instead. These snakes will also hiss and show a hood to appear larger than they are.
If you are bitten, it is not considered a medical emergency, though the area may appear reddened after due to their diluted venom.
Their tanks should be 90 degrees on the hot side and 78 degrees Fahrenheit on the cooler side. They require less humidity than some of the other snakes on this list and thrive at 40% humidity.
They also feast on a diet consisting of rodents. Anyone looking for a smaller, more unique-looking snake should strongly consider the Western Hognose Snake!
5. Milk Snakes
These docile constrictor snakes are perfect for night owls looking for a mellow buddy to pass the time. Milk Snakes live 10 to 15 years and reach 2 to 4 feet in length. They thrive in captivity and are known for being active and personable. These banded snakes require a heat gradient of 90 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level between 40-60%.
They thrive on a diet of frozen, captive-bred rodents and are hardy eaters. These borrowers are susceptible to respiratory infections, so it’s important to keep their tank within the optimal ranges.
They may be shy at first, but after working with them, they are easily held. They are not known for biting and instead will emit a musky scent when nervous. If they do bite, their teeth are tiny and medical attention will not be needed.
This popular snake comes in a variety of colors, perfect for those who want a unique-looking pet.
Milk Snakes are great beginner pets for someone looking for a personable, interactive snake that is primarily active at night.
6. Garter Snake
These alert snakes are perfect for beginners who want an active pet that is visible during the day and easier to handle. Garter Snakes max out at 3 feet in length and have a lifespan of about 9 years. This makes them easier to keep for those looking for something a little smaller and less of a long-term commitment.
Although they rarely bite, they can emit a musk when threatened.
These docile snakes can be fed nightcrawlers, feeder fish with a staple feeder being frozen, captive-bred rodents. Garter Snakes eat more frequently than other snakes, about twice weekly.
They require a basking spot of 95 degrees and ambient temperatures around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. These snakes thrive with humidity levels between 35 and 65%.
Garter snakes are great for someone looking for a docile, active snake that does not reach the length or age of some of the other snakes mentioned on this list.
7. Rough Green Snake
These emerald-colored snakes reach lengths of about 3 feet and are thin-bodied.
Instead of feeding on rodents like the other snakes on this list, Rough Green Snakes are insectivores. This makes them ideal for those who don’t want the commitment of a larger snake or are wary of feeding frozen rodents.
These beauties will live for around 8 years in captivity. They prefer a basking temperature of 85 degrees and an ambient temperature of around 74 degrees Fahrenheit. A humidity level of 50% will be sufficient for these snakes. These arboreal reptiles enjoy climbing branches, so make sure to decorate the enclosure with plenty of climbing spots.
Rough Green Snakes can get stressed from frequent handling, but are not known for biting. They prefer to be hidden amongst the branches in their enclosure, and it can negatively affect their health when they are handled too frequently.
Make sure that these shy snakes have plenty of hiding spots to keep them from getting stressed.
These robust snakes are a great choice for someone who prefers a smaller snake and is wary of preparing frozen rodents for meals.
8. Rosy Boa
Rosy Boas are calm snakes who tolerate handling and make excellent pets. They will grow to around 3 feet and live to be 25 years old with proper husbandry.
These constrictor snakes primarily eat frozen rodents and are known as being easy to feed. Rosy Boas rarely bite when they feel threatened and are easy to handle.
They prefer a basking spot of around 90 degrees and ambient temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. These constrictors will do best with humidity levels of around 45% and are active mainly at night.
They are a burrowing snake, so if you are looking for an active snake that would be highly visible, these snakes may not be the best fit.
The Rosy Boa would make an excellent pet for beginners who want a long-term companion that does not mind being handled.
9. Rainbow Boa
These spectacular-looking snakes have a rainbow, iridescent sheen that appears in sunlight. They live up to 20 years in captivity and grow to be about 5 feet in length.
These burrowers require a high humidity of 75-90% and enjoy cage temperatures that range from 88-78 degrees Fahrenheit.
They can be temperamental and shy, so they are not recommended for beginners who want an easy-to-handle snake. These nocturnal snakes do tend to calm down with regular handling and with age.
Rainbow Boas thrive on being fed frozen rodents and are known to be hardy eaters.
These beauties have specific care requirements that are more suited to an advanced reptile keeper. This snake would be perfect for someone looking for a stunning snake and a more challenging vivarium setup.
10. Green Tree Python
These beautiful pythons are nocturnal and are rarely seen during the day. They are arboreal and are seen frequently perched on branches in their enclosure. It’s important to provide sufficient ledges and branches for them to explore.
As adults, they will reach 4 – 6 feet and can live to be 15 years old.
These shy snakes need to be worked with to get to the point where they can be handled without being stressed. When threatened, Green Tree Pythons are known to bite as their defensive mechanism, and are easily agitated. They also have over a hundred long teeth, so their bites will cause significant lacerations that may need medical attention.
Their diet consists primarily of frozen, captive-bred rodents.
These rainforest dwellers thrive with a basking spot of 88 degrees and ambient temps that hover around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They enjoy humidity levels between 40-70%, which may be challenging for beginners. Green Tree Pythons are more fragile than some of the other snakes mentioned on this list, so tank conditions are important for a long lifespan.
This snake is not recommended to beginners based on its fragility, bite and tank requirements. These sedentary snakes are perfect for intermediate to expert keepers that prefer a beautiful but not active snake.
Pet snakes can be rewarding companions for those who are looking for an easier-to-care-for animal. Their low maintenance lifestyles are attractive to many people who think dogs and cats require too much daily attention. Many of the snakes on this list can be handled with varying frequency or they can be left to their own devices in a properly set up vivarium. This allows the owner to choose the level of interaction with their pet.
One important consideration of snakes is their size in adulthood and their lifespans. Many of the snakes on this list will live to be over 20 years old and can reach a length of 6 feet. Ball Pythons and Corn Snakes are two examples of snakes who would need significantly sized tanks and an owner who is comfortable with longtime companions. For those who want less of a time commitment, Rough Green Snakes and Garter Snakes have a shorter lifespan and both grow to around 3 feet.
Most of the snakes on this list thrive on a rodent diet, but the Rough Green Snake is perfect for those who are hesitant about keeping frozen rodents on hand. The Green Tree Python is a great choice for intermediate keepers who are looking for a stunning snake that needs more specific care requirements than some of the other snakes on this list. Rainbow Boas have high humidity requirements and are perfect for keepers who want a more challenging companion. Pet owners also need to consider if they would prefer a snake who is more active during the day or at night. There is something for everyone on this comprehensive list of popular snake breeds!
Hi! My name is Janelle and I am a reptile keeper from the United States. I’ve been raising reptiles for ten years. I love creating custom vivariums. I currently keep a Jeweled Lacerta, Sprout.