Have you been considering buying yourself a snake as a pet?
Are you overwhelmed with how many different snake breeds are out there?
There are a lot out there, so you’re probably asking:
What are the best snakes for handling?
Beginner snake owners should look into buying a ball python, corn snake, garter snake, California kingsnake, rosy boa, or gopher snake.
It’s crucial to understand the commitment of caring for a snake before you buy one, and beginner snakes are ideal for people new to snake handling.
Continue reading if you’d like to learn more!
Table of Contents
What Are The Best Snakes For Handling?
Snakes are fantastic pets to own!
It is overwhelming to decide which snake to buy, as there are many different types.
The best snakes for beginners are easy to take care of with the right direction and equipment.
You should only consider buying a snake if you are committed to understanding their needs and doing your best to provide.
Here are some of the best snakes for pets as a beginner.
Ball pythons are probably the most popular snake on the market, found in your average pet retail store.
They are very docile and shy pets.
Ball pythons come in 50+ different morphs, so you’ll have a lot of options to choose from.
Some popular ball python morphs include:
- Cinnamon – Light brown with dark spots
- Albino – Yellow and white with red eyes
- Banana – Light tan body with bright yellow spots
Females grow up to 3 to 5 feet, while males are usually 2 to 3 feet long.
They are usually heavier snakes and can live for a long time, with some living as long as 30 years. You must provide fully grown ball pythons with a 40-gallon enclosure.
Ball pythons require some humidity in their enclosures. That is why we don’t recommend screen tops; screen tops can allow humidity to escape.
Due to their shy nature, we recommend hiding tops on both sides of the enclosure.
Purchase these snakes for around $30.
Corn snakes are trendy pets due to their docile nature and easy requirements.
Corn snakes make good pets for children. They don’t have any fangs, and their bites barely leave a mark.
However, their exploring nature would make handling them slightly tricky for your little ones.
A corn snake can get as long as 3-5 feet and live for about 20 years (if well taken care of).
Adult corn snakes require large enclosures. So, get a 40-gallon terrarium for your corn snake.
Their housing requirements are minimal, including a screened top, a heating pad, a water bowl, a couple of places to hide, and a substrate.
Tip: Organic soils are the best substrate for corn snakes.
They need to be fed baby rats or mice.
Hatchlings sell for anywhere between $20 to $45.
If you’ve seen a snake while walking around outside, it was likely a garter snake.
These snakes are alert during the day, making them perfect for someone who wants a more active pet.
They stay smaller at about 2-3 feet in length.
They require a UV light source and eat a more varied diet, including rodents, worms, fish, and amphibians.
The name comes from their ability to kill and devour other snakes, though they are relatively easy to take care of as pets.
Kingsnakes enjoy handling and stay relatively small, averaging 3 to 4 feet in length.
They require a small enclosure with a screened top, a water bowl, a place to hide, a substrate, and a tank heater.
Feed them smaller mice while the snake is younger, and move onto larger mice as the snake grows.
They cost around $50.
These snakes generally don’t play friendly with other snakes, so keep them alone in their enclosure.
This type of snake is also considered docile and calm, with sizes ranging from 2 to 4 feet in length. Rosy boas can live up to 30+ years in captivity.
Rosy boas, if threatened, will curl up in a ball instead of biting you. They spend most of their time burrowing and are nocturnal. You’ll have great luck handling them at night.
The best part about owning a rosy boa is their tolerance to being handled for long. They don’t really mind human interaction.
They sell on the market for $30-40.
Find them at reptile stores rather than big retail pet stores.
They come in various striped colors, like gray, brown, and orange. Because rosy boas are more inquisitive, screened tops are not recommended for their enclosure.
It may damage their noses.
Otherwise, they have similar requirements to the snakes mentioned above and predominantly eat mice.
Gopher snakes are commonly found in North America and cost around $50.
They can grow larger, averaging from 3 to 6 feet in length.
They are heavier to handle and may require a larger enclosure as they grow.
Baby gopher snakes can get slightly grumpy. They’ll bluff by rattling their tails like a rattlesnake and puff up to appear scary. So, make sure you gain their trust before trying to handle them.
Gopher snakes like heat sources on one side of the enclosure to self-regulate their temperatures. Also, make sure you use a tank with a tight lid – these guys can escape before you can even notice.
Younger gopher snakes eat mice, while full-grown ones should be fed rats once a week.
These are fun snakes to own because they are interactive and playful.
Western Hognose Snake
Western hognose is a small and stout snake species with a maximum size of 2 to 3 feet.
Their upturned snout gives them a distinctive appearance, and their small size makes them easy to handle.
These guys are tiny, adorable, and highly docile. A western hognose will try to avoid biting for as long as it can. They prefer to play dead if they feel threatened.
This snake species also enjoy burrowing and calmly exploring its enclosure.
Western hognose snakes are relatively uncommon, so you’ll likely only find these snakes in speciality pet stores or from breeders.
Interestingly, females are bigger than males. So, when you have to pick one for yourself, choose depending on your size preferences.
You can easily house an adult hognose in a 30-gallon tank.
Hog Island Boa
A Hog Island boa is a type of boa constrictor, so you might be surprised to see one on the list.
However, they are significantly smaller than their namesakes, averaging from 4 to 6 feet in length. Hog Island boas can live for about 20 to 40 years in captivity.
They come from an island off the coast of Honduras and have different requirements than red tail boas or other snake species.
Hog Island boas are pretty docile since the islands don’t have many predators. You can easily tame and handle these guys.
As for the living requirements, you’ll need at least a 90-gallon tank for an adult. Maintain the overall temperature at 86 degrees F and the basking spot at 88 degrees F. You can use a ceramic heat emitter for it.
Kenyan Sand Boa
Kenyan sand boas are desert dwellers. They are non-arboreal, meaning they don’t hang around in trees.
They prefer to stay burrowed under the sand. So, you will notice them more active during the night than during the day.
Kenyan sand boas are relatively small, reaching only 30 inches long. Some can be as small as 15 inches. Males are smaller than females.
As babies, you can tell between the two by looking at their tails. Females have short, triangular-shaped tails, whereas males have larger tails.
Kenyan sand boas are slow and soft slitherers. But you’ll have to learn to read their body language to prevent getting bit by them. These guys are known to strike sideways and pretty unpredictable.
You can keep a Kenyan sand boa in a 15-gallon tank without any problems.
How to Safely Handle a Snake?
Now that you know some of the friendliest snakes out there, let’s learn the best ways to handle them.
These details will help you bond with your snake well and prevent any injuries to you or your snake.
Choose the Right Room
Since snakes are cold-blooded critters, they prefer staying within a warm and cozy environment. Therefore, whenever you decide to hold your snake, do it in a closed room that’s at a comfortable temperature.
Pick a room with soft flooring, like carpeting or rugs, to prevent injury if the snake falls. Avoid rooms with a lot of nooks and crannies – snakes are pro-slitherers and can quickly escape.
Also, make sure your other pets aren’t around during your handling session. A bite from your four-legged buddy can be fatal to your pet snake.
Always Wash Your Hands
Did you know that over 90% of healthy reptiles have salmonella in their gut?
It’s a nasty bacteria that can spread to their skin.
Salmonella can cause severe health issues for humans, like diarrhea, headaches, fever, and crazy abdominal cramps. So make sure you don’t touch your mouth or nose or eat anything after handling your pet.
It’s best to wash your hands with an antibacterial soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling your snake.
Be Gentle and Move Slowly
Imagine someone picking you up by your head and waist, twisting you around, or dropping you on a hard surface.
It would be quite traumatic!
So, when it comes to handling snakes, move slowly.
For new snakes, let them get used to being around you before trying to hold them. Once your snake is comfortable in your presence, put your hand in the enclosure and let them slither over and around it.
When you’re ready to pick up your snake, do so by gently but firmly supporting their body with both hands.
Don’t squeeze the snake, as this can cause them to become stressed and potentially bite.
If your snake wraps its tail around you, don’t try to pull it off. This is a sign of trust and comfort. Your snake will eventually let go on its own.
Know Where Not to Touch
There are a few no-go zones when it comes to handling snakes.
Avoid touching their head and tail, as these are sensitive areas that can cause them to feel threatened or defensive. Snakes also don’t appreciate being touched around their vent and underbelly.
Focus on supporting their body and gently stroking along the length of their spine.
Know When Not to Handle a Snake
There are times when you should avoid handling pet snakes.
Snakes can become irritable and may not want to be touched. Wait until their shed is complete before handling them again. Give them a few days to regain strength and energy even after shedding.
Snakes need time to digest their food, so avoid handling them for at least 48 hours after they have eaten. Handling too soon can cause the snake to regurgitate its meal or potentially bite if it feels threatened while vulnerable.
When They’re Sick
If your snake shows signs of illness, it’s best to avoid handling them until they have been treated and returned to full health.
Tip: Always respect your snake’s boundaries and never force them to be handled if they show signs of discomfort or aggression.
What Types Of Snakes Should I Avoid Handling?
In general, beginners should avoid large or venomous snakes or more complicated snakes to care for.
Large constrictive snakes are dangerous for inexperienced snake owners.
These snakes include boa constrictors, Burmese pythons, water snakes, green snakes, and anacondas.
Timid snakes are better left alone, too. These guys are skittish and never get accustomed to being handled. Rough green snakes and smooth green snakes are among some of the most timid snakes.
As a loving reptile parent, you must always put your pet’s comfort and safety first!
How to Not Get Bit by Your Pet Reptile
Pet snakes, generally, are pretty shy animals. They won’t bite unless they feel threatened or are trying to defend themselves. Confusion is the main reason for snake bites.
If you’re all new to handling snakes, the chances are that you’ll get a few nips and bites. It’s natural in the early stages of getting used to each other.
But don’t worry; it’s normal for inexperienced handlers.
Here’s how to prevent these bites from happening:
Don’t Startle Your Snake
Snakes can’t see very well, so they rely on their sense of smell and vibrations to identify when danger is nearby. If you startle your pet or reach into its enclosure without warning, it may strike out of fear.
So, approach them slowly and calmly, making sure they are aware of your presence before touching them.
Avoid Quick Movements
Sudden movements can trigger a snake’s defensive instincts, causing it to strike or bite. Make sure to move slowly and deliberately when handling your snake.
Also, avoid jerky motions like shaking or waving your hand in front of the snake – this can be perceived as a threat and may result in a bite.
Don’t Handle Your Snake When It’s Stressed
Just like humans, snakes can have bad days, too! They may be stressed for various reasons, such as shedding or illness. If your snake shows signs of stress, avoid handling them until they have calmed down.
Signs of stress in snakes include hissing, striking, defensive postures, and hiding.
Use Tongs to Feed Your Snake
Snakes can sometimes mistake your hand for food when offering them prey. To avoid accidental bites, use tongs or feeding tweezers to offer food to your snake. Keep your fingers away from the snake’s mouth during feeding time.
It’s also a good idea to feed them in a separate enclosure. Like this, they’ll learn to associate their enclosure with food, making it safer for you to handle them in their main enclosure.
How to Deal with a Snake Bite?
The good news is that small pet snakes like corn snakes and hognose snakes rarely bite. Even if they do, their bites won’t break your skin. But that doesn’t make getting bit any less scary.
Here’s what you should do in case your snake bites you:
Maintain Your Calm
You are probably freaking out, but you need to calm down and make sense of what just happened. Check for injuries on both yourself and your pet snake.
Now, slowly return your snake to its enclosure and check your wound.
You’ll have to act according to the severity of the bite.
Wash and Sanitize
If your snake’s teeth only pierced the top layer of skin, clean the wound with antibacterial soap and water. Apply an antiseptic cream or ointment and cover it with a bandage. Keep an eye on the wound for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge.
See Your Doctor
Do you have a deep bite? Is your snake venomous? Has your wound become infected? Don’t delay and visit your doctor immediately. Snake bites should never be taken lightly, even if from a pet snake. If the bite is from a venomous snake, tell your doctor about the species. It’ll help the doctor match the right antivenom.
What Are Some Things To Consider Before Buying A Snake?
Buying a snake is not something to take lightly.
Snakes are a long-term commitment, with some living for over 20 years.
Are you ready to take on the level of responsibility required of a longer-living pet?
You also need to make sure you’re comfortable handling and storing prey animals, whether those rodents are frozen or live.
Also, do you have the proper space in your home for a snake?
Enclosures can take up a decent amount of space depending on the size of your snake, and it’s essential to have enough room for them to explore and live.
You also need to make sure you get your snake from a reputable breeder.
Wild snakes are much harder to tame and are often the home of diseases and parasites.
Lastly, check the laws for the area where you live.
Some snakes are considered illegal in certain places, or you may need a permit to own them.
Sssaying Goodbye to the Top 9 Snake BFFs
The best snakes for pets are widely available, easy to handle, and long-living.
However, before purchasing any other type of pet, make sure you have considered carefully if you have the time, energy, and resources to commit to being a snake parent.
Snakes are a fascinating and rewarding pet to have at home with the proper planning and enthusiasm. You’ll need an enclosure (the right size), food (live or frozen prey), and time to engage with your pet.
We highly recommend you learn how to properly handle a snake before reaching into your pet’s enclosure. Safety always comes first!
Did you find the information in this article useful?
At Oddly Cute Pets, we want all reptile lovers to have a positive and safe experience with their pets. If you’re looking for more information on a particular snake species, check out our other articles on our website. We’re sure you’ll find everything you need to know about your favorite reptile!