Types Of Pet Snakes

After consideration, you have decided to commit to adopting a pet snake. 

However, there are a few things you want to consider first. 

How much space do you have in your home to devote to an enclosure? 

Do you feel comfortable feeding live or frozen rodents, or would you prefer not to? 

Do you want a snake which does well with handling, or are you all right with more of a display snake? 

What is your budget for adoption or buying? 

Do you know something about taking care of a reptile pet, or are you a beginner?

Whatever your answers may be, we have a snake on this list which is right for you. 

We made this list of common pet snake types, along with specific information on their native habitat, appearance, enclosure needs, diet, and overall temperament. 

We have also included bullet points for adult size, lifespan, and average cost.

types of pet snakes

Some Important Reminders

When we say cost, it applies to the initial cost of buying or adopting a snake. 

They do not include setup costs for: 

  • enclosure
  • heating and lighting bills
  • regular food costs
  • vet visits

Always go to trusted sources when searching for a pet to buy.

Highly-recommended reptile breeders and reptile-specific pet stores are perfect options.

This will make it more likely you buy or adopt a healthy, captive, and well-bred specimen. 

Another great option is pet rescue groups which are spread throughout the U.S. and many other countries as well. 

Rescue has the added benefit of giving an abandoned pet snake a second chance at a better life.

We always recommend buying or adopting a captive-bred snake instead of a wild-caught one. 

Captive-bred specimens are less likely to be stressed by living in an enclosure and with humans than wild-caught specimens. 

Buying from a captive breeding population also puts less pressure on wild snake populations, which may be under threat.

Some snakes on this list are so low-cost because there is no profit in captive-breeding them, meaning most if not all specimens will be wild-caught. 

This list includes rough green snakes and smooth green snakes, both of which are mostly wild-caught for the pet trade. 

Cheaper snakes also tend to have lower life expectancies in captivity.

We do not recommend buying or adopting venomous snakes, especially not if you are a beginner snake keeper. 

All the snakes on this list are either nonvenomous, or their venom is not harmful to humans.

Make sure to do complete research on what types of enclosures are best, proper lighting setup, and diet before committing to a species. 

Different species of snakes have different care and husbandry needs.

African Egg-Eating Snake

African Egg-Eating Snake

Scientific NameDasypeltis scabra

These smaller snakes are native to Sub-Saharan African and Middle Eastern deserts and semiarid areas. 

They are usually brown, with scattered darker scale spots. 

They have round heads, which distinguish them from many other snakes.

Since these snakes live in deserts and in areas around grasslands and forests, they do not have high humidity requirements. 

Keep their enclosures at 40 to 60 percent humidity by misting their substrate and any plants with water once a day. 

They are terrestrial, meaning they will need more floor space in their vivariums. 

We recommend a reptile enclosure with a front-opening door.

Check out this post for some DIY reptile enclosure ideas.

One unique husbandry requirement for these snakes is they eat only bird’s eggs. 

You will need to regularly purchase finch and quail eggs since chicken eggs are too big for them. 

While this is odd for a pet snake, many owners are drawn to egg-eating snakes since they do not require live or frozen rodents as food. 

An egg-eating snake may be your first choice if you feel squeamish about feeder mice or live insects.

These snakes require frequent handling in order to get used to it. 

Once they are, they are very friendly and docile snakes.

  • Adult Size: 2-2.5’ feet (0.6-0.8 m)
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Average Cost: 60-160 USD

African House Snake

african house snake

Scientific NameBoaedon fuliginosus

These common snakes are native to sub-Saharan Africa. 

They are called house snakes because they tend to thrive in human-inhabited areas and feed on common house pests, including rats and mice. 

They come in a variety of brown tones with subtle scale patterning.

African house snakes appreciate a tall enclosure space and some climbing branches and vines. 

While hatchlings tend to do well in a 10-gallon tank, you will want to scale up their enclosures as they grow into adulthood. 

We recommend investing in a well-ventilated tank with an escape-proof top. 

While this snake, unlike other snakes and reptile pets, does not require UVB lighting, it doesn’t hurt them to have it.

Like most pet snakes, if you choose an African house snake, you should open up some freezer space for their feeder mice or rats.

African house snakes, though they aren’t as popular as other beginner snakes, are a favorite of reptile keepers for their easy temperament and sweet nature. 

Like most snakes, they may be aggressive during their relocation adjustment. 

However, once they are settled, they are very unlikely to bite or act defensively towards you. 

Since African house snakes have a longer lifespan, you will have plenty of chances to bond and build trust.

  • Adult Size: 2-4′ ft (0.6-1.2 m), males usually smaller than females
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Average Cost: 70 USD

Amazon Tree Boa

green tree boa

Scientific NameCorallus hortulanus

As suggested by their name, Amazon tree boas are prevalent in the Amazon river basin. 

Most commonly, they are brown in color, but there are red and green tree boa varieties. 

Amazon tree boas are known for their piercing eyes, which have an intimidating reflective membrane.

The most crucial enclosure requirement for these boas is a vivarium with plenty of climbing space and a network of branches to support them.

They become stressed or aggressive if they cannot climb. Include one hide box each on each end of the enclosure. 

Maintain humidity levels of 40-70% in the tank.

Feeder rodents will be the Amazon tree boa’s main staple. 

If they need, their prey may be sprinkled with a calcium powder. 

These boas do have a tendency to overeat if allowed, meaning they will need to be kept to a strict feeding schedule.

Feed an adult once every 10 to 14 days.

Due to its more advanced care requirements, this is not recommended as a beginner boa. 

It also tends to be more aggressive, meaning handling may not be an option, and it has strong teeth. 

Captive-bred snakes tend to be less aggressive, and a breeder may claim they grow out of biting, but there is no real guarantee. 

Most of the specimens currently in the pet trade are, unfortunately, wild-caught.

  • Adult Size: 4-5′ ft (1.2-1.5 m), tend to be thin
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Average Cost: 40-60 USD

Ball Python (AKA Royal Python)

ball python

Scientific NamePython regius

Ball pythons, an especially popular pet snake, are native to Western and Central African grasslands. 

They get their name from their defensive behavior of curling up into a ball to feel safe. 

Captive-bred pythons come in a variety of color morphs, but the wild and common varieties are olive-green with brown and black blotches.

Ball pythons do best in smaller enclosures which help them feel secure. 

Hides are especially appreciated and vital for them. 

Since they are nocturnal snakes and like to stay hidden during daytime hours, keep their lighting on 12 hours on, 12 hours off cycle. 

Do not let ambient temperatures in their tanks fall below 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C).

While these pythons eat the usual feeder rodents, they like to have their meat freshly killed or thawed. 

They are known to be picky eaters, which puts most beginner snake keepers off of them as a species.

Ball pythons are naturally docile snakes. 

They are more likely to curl up in a ball if threatened rather than defending themselves by biting. 

Building trust through gentle and frequent handling helps them get used to you.

  • Adult Size: 2-5′ ft (0.6-1.5 m), females are generally larger than males
  • Lifespan: 20-30 years
  • Average Cost: 25-200 USD, depending on the color morph

California King Snake

california king snake

Scientific NameLampropeltis getula californiae

These large snakes are the most popular among pet king snake varieties. 

They are native to the West coast of the United States and stretch into Oaxaca, Mexico. 

Typically, they are dark brown or black with yellow or white stripes and blotches. Captive breeders have produced a variety of color morphs. 

Though wild populations are stable, it is still best to look for a captive-bred California king snake, as it is more likely to be parasite-free and will tolerate captivity better.

California king snakes have basic husbandry and enclosure requirements. 

A 20-gallon enclosure minimum is best. 

We also recommend making sure your tank is escape-proof. 

A California king snake is an escape master!

Like most snakes, the California king snake is a mouse eater. 

Make sure you are not feeding your snakes any prey which is wider than your pet’s largest width for easiest digestion.

These snakes, though they grow large, have very gentle and calm temperaments. 

For this reason, and their relative ease of care, they are prevalent among snake keepers and come well-recommended for beginning snake handlers.

  • Adult Size: 2.5-5’ ft long (0.8-1.5 m)
  • Lifespan: up to 20 years
  • Average Cost: 70-170 USD

Read More: Corn Snake Vs. King Snake: Which is Easier To Tend?

Cape House Snake (AKA Brown House Snake)

brown house snake

Scientific NameBoaedon capensis

These African natives tend to frequent human-inhabited areas, feeding on house pests like rodents. 

They can eat an entire nest of baby mice in one sitting! 

They have varied patterns and striping in blacks, browns, and olive greens in the wild. 

Captive breeders, however, have produced many unique color morphs.

Since they inhabit a variety of environments in the wild, we recommend offering these snakes multiple mental stimulation items. 

These include climbing branches, at least two hides, and maybe some damp substrate in which to burrow. 

Cape house snakes have basic husbandry requirements otherwise. 

They are mostly nocturnal snakes, meaning their lights should be on a cycle to reflect their normal circadian rhythms.

We recommend sticking with smaller feeder rodents, as these tend to be smaller snakes. 

Pinkies and fuzzies should do nicely.

Once they have acclimated to relocation, cape house snakes have friendly and calm dispositions. 

If they do bite, their bites will not hurt as much since they are smaller. 

While we recommend this snake highly for beginners, they do not live as long as other snakes on this list, which is an aspect of their care to keep in mind.

  • Adult Size: 2-4′ ft (0.6-1.2 m), females are generally larger than males
  • Lifespan: about 8 years
  • Average Cost: 60-150 USD

Carpet Python (AKA Diamond Python)

carpet python

Scientific NameMorelia spilota

These large pythons are native to a variety of South Pacific environments in Australia, New Guinea, the northern Solomon Islands, and the Bismarck Archipelago.

Captive-bred specimens come in a variety of unique color morphs and patterns.

Since carpet pythons live in hot environments, they require high temperatures. 

However, regular lighting setups and basic humidity will suffice. 

Experts recommend opaque sides and tops for python enclosures to help with their feelings of security. 

A material like PVC or plastic will also help prevent excessive heat retention in the sides of the enclosure.

Carpet pythons are semi-arboreal and will appreciate both ground space and some climbing room.

Once they reach adulthood, carpet pythons should be fed rats. Since hatchlings are fed on mice, they may become picky and only eat mice. To fix this behavior, add the scent of a mouse to a frozen rat.

Hatchling and juvenile carpet pythons may be nippier than adults. 

Luckily, carpet pythons are easily tamed, and adults are generally ok with frequent handling.

  • Adult Size: 5-9′ ft (1.5-2.7 m), depends on the variety
  • Lifespan: up to 20 years
  • Average Cost: 100-300 USD, some rarer morphs may cost more, into the thousands of dollars

Children’s Python

Children's Python

Scientific NameAntaresia childreni

Children’s pythons, named for museum curator John Children, are native to rocky areas of Australia. 

They usually have brown and beige spotted camouflage patterning in the wild. 

However, captive breeders have produced a variety of color morphs in their populations.

Children’s pythons have basic care requirements, making them popular among beginners. 

They do require a humid hide, kept moist, to aid them in shedding.

Like most pet snakes, they eat feeder rodents. 

They are smaller pythons, so small to medium-sized mice or rats will work well for them.

Another reason Children’s pythons are so popular is their friendly and docile nature. 

They do very well with gentle and frequent handling. 

We highly recommend Children’s pythons as beginner pythons.

  • Adult Size: 2.5-4’ ft (0.8-1.2 m)
  • Lifespan: Up to 30 years
  • Average Cost: 70-350 USD depending on where they came from

Common Boa Constrictor (AKA Red-Tailed Boa Constrictor, Boa Constrictor)

boa constrictor

Scientific NameBoa constrictor

These huge snakes live throughout tropical environments in Central and South America. 

They are long and muscular, usually with brown and black patterning. 

As suggested by a common name, they sometimes have red tails.

Since they are so large, they will absolutely need a larger enclosure. 

Provide more water and food than you would with most snakes.

Adult boa constrictors eat larger prey animals than most pet snakes. 

Depending on how wide they are, they may eat rats, rabbits, or even full chickens.

Boa constrictors generally need to learn to tolerate handling. 

Once they have adjusted, they tend to be very friendly and docile, though they may wrap and tense around you if they feel threatened. 

These snakes are recommended only for adult beginners because of their size.

  • Adult Size: 13-16′ ft (4-5 m)
  • Lifespan: Up to 30 years
  • Average Cost: 60-200 USD

Corn Snake

corn snake

Scientific NamePantherophis guttatus

These United States natives are the most popular beginner pet snake in the world. 

Corn snakes come in a variety of captive-bred color morphs. 

In the wild, they are usually red or orange with black or brown blotches along their bodies.

These snakes are nocturnal, so make sure to cycle light and darkness for them. 

They will also need some extra lighting. 

You should keep the cool side of their enclosures at 72° degrees Fahrenheit (22° C) and the warm side at 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C).

These are also rodent eaters. 

They enjoy pinky mice in captivity.

Their hardy natures, basic care requirements, and gentle temperaments are what makes them especially popular with beginners. 

Corn snakes are especially good with frequent and gentle handling.

  • Adult Size: 3-4’ ft (0.9-1.2 m)
  • Lifespan: up to 20 years
  • Average Cost: 40-100 USD

DeKay’s Brown Snake (AKA Brown Snake)

DeKay's Brown Snake

Scientific NameStoreria dekayi

These small snakes are found throughout North America. 

As suggested by their name, they are usually brown with subtle spotted scale patterning. 

Their heads are rounded, not triangular.

DeKay’s brown snakes have fundamental husbandry requirements. 

They do not need exceptionally high temperatures to do well. 

Since they are smaller, they do very well in smaller vivariums, reducing the cost of a housing tank.

Since they are a small snake, brown snakes eat live insects, like crickets or roaches, and earthworms, not rodents. 

These may be a right choice for you if you are comfortable offering live insects and not rodents.

DeKay’s brown snakes are well known for being friendly and doing very well with handling. 

They are highly recommended as a beginner snake for these reasons. 

However, they have a much shorter lifespan than other snakes on this list.

  • Adult Size: Less than a foot (0.3 m)
  • Lifespan: about 7 years
  • Average Cost: 10-30 USD

Dumeril’s Boa

Dumeril's Boa

Scientific NameAcrantophis dumerili

These gorgeous boas are native to southern arid regions of Madagascar. 

They come in patterns in a variety of browns, greys, peaches, greens, and reds.

As they are a terrestrial species, floor space in their enclosure will be more important to them than vertical climbing space. 

Maintaining proper humidity will be very important, and a substrate which retains moisture is best. 

Oddly, these boas seem to do very well on newspaper. 

They will need at least one place to hide and a 12-hour daylight, 12-hour darkness cycle.

Being large snakes, boas like the Dumeril’s drink a lot of water. 

Make sure they have a consistently cleaned, large source of filtered drinking water. 

Like most snakes on this list, Dumeril’s boas eat a variety of feeder rodents, baby rabbits, and fowl. 

Most boas prefer live prey to pre-killed, but they may be trained to accept thawed prey if necessary.

Due to their more complicated care requirements, these snakes are recommended more for intermediate snake and boa owners, not beginners. 

They tend to have friendly and docile temperaments, but they may be aggressive under certain circumstances. 

They have a strong bite. 

Make sure to be cautious while handling, and don’t handle them for 24 hours after they eat.

  • Adult Size: 3-6′ ft (0.9-1.8 m), females generally heavier and larger than males
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Average Cost: 200-500 USD

Garter Snake

garter snake

Scientific Name: several members of the genus Thamnophis

Garter snakes make up a group with several subspecies and varieties. 

They have high populations in the wild and are found throughout Canada, the United States, and Central America.

They are one of the most commonly seen and found snakes. 

They are usually narrow, with longitudinal stripes along their bodies.

Garter snakes have essential lighting and heating requirements in their enclosures. 

Unlike other snakes, they will appreciate a basking lamp since they like to hang out in the sun when possible in the wild.

Since they are smaller, they eat small fish and worms, not rodents. 

Be careful when selecting feeder fish, as wild-caught fish may contain parasites which may do harm to your pet.

As a rule, garter snakes are extremely easy to tame and docile. 

They are easy to handle as well. 

These reasons and their primary care requirements make them extremely popular in the captive snake population.

  • Adult Size: 1.5-2’ ft (0.5-0.6 m)
  • Lifespan: up to 10 years
  • Average Cost: 15-50 USD

Gopher Snake (AKA Pine Snake, Bull Snake)

Gopher Snake

Scientific NamePituophis catenifer, there are a few subspecies

Gopher snakes are native to the Western United States. 

They have similar scale patterning to a rattlesnake and even have rattles at the ends of their tails

However, they differ from rattlesnakes with their rounded pupils, rounded noses, and their lack of fangs.

Since these are larger snakes, they will need a larger enclosure. 

They also enjoy hanging out in the sun in the wild, so they will appreciate a basking lamp in captivity.

As hatchlings, captive gopher snakes will eat feeder mice. 

As they grow, scale up to feeding rats.

These are active and fast-moving snakes, which may make handling difficult. 

They are easier to tame with gentle handling if captive-bred rather than wild-caught. 

Though they may bite occasionally, this is purely out of self-defense, and gopher snakes do not have venomous bites.

  • Adult Size: up to 4.5′ ft long (1.4 m)
  • Lifespan: up to 20 years
  • Average Cost: 90-190 USD, albino morphs cost more

Hog Island Boa

Hog Island Boa

Scientific NameBoa constrictor imperator

These are a subspecies of the common boa constrictor. 

The main difference is Hog Island boas only live on the Hog Islands off the coast of Honduras. 

They are smaller than common boa constrictors as a product of inbreeding on the islands or insular dwarfism. 

They have similar patterns to common boas. 

However, they have hypomelanism, meaning they do not have as much black pigment on their scales. 

This gives them a unique, washed-out color effect.

Hog Island boas do best in a large enclosure with a few spacious hide boxes. 

Replicate their rainforest environments through 60% humidity at all times. 

A moisture-retaining substrate and a large water source under a basking lamp will help with ambient humidity. 

Make sure to mist regularly.

Though these boas eat migratory birds in the wild, they will gladly stick with thawed feeder mice in captivity.

This is an ideal and highly-recommended pet snake for keepers with any level of experience. 

They are friendlier and tolerate handling better than common boa constrictors, a result of few natural predators in the wild. 

Unfortunately, wild populations are currently low and under threat. 

Fortunately, because of high demand in the pet trade, there are great and widespread captive-breeding programs, preserving these boas for the future.

  • Adult Size: 4-6′ ft (1.2-1.8 m), females tend to be larger
  • Lifespan: 20-30 years
  • Average Cost: 200-500 USD

Kenyan Sand Boa (AKA Egyptian Sand Boa)

Kenyan Sand Boa

Scientific NameGongylophis colubrinus

Kenyan sand boas, as suggested by their names, live in African deserts. 

They may also be found in the Middle East. 

They burrow into the sand to thermoregulate, also dragging their prey into their burrows to suffocate them. 

They have beige, brown, and black blotch patterning along their backs.

Because of their native environments, they will need high temperatures in their vivariums and a burrowing substrate. 

Though most sources will recommend silica-free play sand, they also keep well on coconut mulch, aspen bedding, or shredded newspaper.

Like most snakes on this list, Kenyan sand boas eat mostly pinky mice.

These pet snakes are popular because of their even temperaments. 

Though you may end up with a sassy and nippy Kenyan sand boa, most use passive methods of defense if they don’t want to be handled.

  • Adult Size: a little over 2′ ft (0.6 m)
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 years
  • Average Cost: 75-200 USD

Milk Snake

Milk Snake

Scientific NameLampropeltis triangulum

This separate species of king snake is native to the United States and Mexico. 

They have black, white, and red body rings and blotches.

Most experts recommend under-tank heating mats for milk snakes. 

Unlike other reptiles, which like to bask, milk snakes prefer getting their heat from rocks and logs. 

Make sure any heating mat you use has a thermostat control for temperature adjustments. 

Do not use heat rocks: these are most likely to badly burn pet reptiles.

Feed a milk snake feeder mice or small rats.

Milk snakes are known for their very docile temperaments. 

They are easily handled and rarely bite. 

Their long lifespans mean snake owners have plenty of opportunities to bond with their pets.

  • Adult Size: up to 2′ ft (0.6 m)
  • Lifespan: up to 20 years
  • Average Cost: 50-200 USD

And here’s an interesting post of ours that compares the corn snake and the milk snake if you would like to learn more about these two potential pet snakes.

Rainbow Boa

rainbow boa

Scientific NameEpicrates cenchria

Rainbow boas are native to tropical rainforest habitats in Central and South America. 

They have a stunning variety of color patterns. 

In the right light, their scales have an iridescent shimmer.

Since these are large boas, they will need a big vivarium, especially as they grow into adulthood. 

They also have high heating and humidity requirements for a snake to mimic their wild tropical environments.

Stick with feeder rodents for a feeder boa. 

Since they are larger, they will start with mice as hatchlings and scale up to feeder rats.

Though they are beautiful, as a pet snake species, rainbow boas tend to be shy and somewhat nippy. 

Hatchlings and juveniles tend to be more aggressive, though they may be tamed to accept handling as adults. 

Rainbow boas are generally recommended for more intermediate reptile keepers. 

  • Adult Size: 5-9’ ft (1.5-2.7 m)
  • Lifespan: 20 years or more
  • Average Cost: 200-600 USD, rarer morphs may cost thousands of dollars

Rat Snake

rat snake

Scientific NameElaphe or Pantherophis obsoleta

Rat snakes are widespread throughout most of North America. 

They tend to gravitate towards wooded areas or old barns. 

Breeders have produced several captive-bred color morphs, giving owners several options. 

There is a division in scientific naming due to the different subspecies of rat snake, which scientists have theorized are actually separate species of snake.

Since these are larger snakes, they will need larger terrariums. 

They do need higher temperatures in their tanks, but they do tolerate short periods in room-temperature environments.

Rat snakes, as suggested by their name, are rodent eaters.

Most experts recommend rat snakes as beginner pet snakes. 

They are very docile and friendly, especially once they have gotten used to handling. 

When they feel threatened, they tend to play dead instead of attacking or biting.

  • Adult Size: 3-5’ ft (0.9-1.5 m)
  • Lifespan: up to 30 years
  • Average Cost: 30-300 USD, depends on the morph

Ringneck Snake

Ringneck Snake

Scientific NameDiadophis punctatus

These smaller snakes are native to North America, including most of the United States, Central Mexico, and Southeastern Canada. 

They are named for their distinctive yellow to orange ring around their necks. 

They come in a variety of colors, from blacks to greys.

Ringneck snakes have slightly lower heating and lighting requirements. 

However, some species from Mexico may like it hotter. 

Make sure you know where your pet snake came from before setting up its enclosure.

These small snakes do well with plenty of places to hide, which may include hollow logs and hide boxes. 

They also need at least 3″ inches (7.6 cm) of peat moss, sand, and potting soil as substrate.

These snakes are good for people who don’t feel comfortable giving a reptile pet rodents. 

They eat earthworms in the wild. 

In captivity, feed a mix of live crickets, slugs, and earthworms.

While ringneck snakes tolerate some handling, they may get irritable if they are handled for a long time without a break. 

They do have venomous bites, but their venom is not strong enough to hurt a human. 

Since these are not particularly popular, they may have limited availability in the pet snake market. 

There is also not much of an incentive for captive breeding, meaning most pet ringneck snakes are wild-caught. 

It is illegal to own some subspecies of ringneck snakes for conservation reasons. 

Check the restrictions in your area before buying or adopting one.

  • Adult Size: Up to a foot (30 cm)
  • Lifespan: 6-10 years
  • Average Cost: 10-30 USD

Rosy Boa

rosy boa

Scientific NameLichanura trivirgata

A popular pet snake, rosy boas are native to the West coast of the United States, with habitats stretching into Mexico. 

While they come in a variety of colors, they usually have distinctive longitudinal stripes with a few small spots. 

Common varieties usually have a brown to rosy-pink color with orange stripes.

Rosy boas do well in basic enclosures. 

Make sure their vivariums are absolutely escape-proof, as a rosy boa will look for even the smallest gap for an escape attempt. 

These snakes also appreciate a place to hide in their enclosures for when they’re feeling shy.

Feed rosy boas fuzzies and small adult mice depending on their adult size.

Rosy boas are highly recommended for beginner snake owners. 

They are naturally docile, curious, and friendly.

  • Adult Size: 4′ ft (1.2 m)
  • Lifespan: up to 30 years
  • Average Cost: 25-350 USD

Rough Green Snake

Rough Green Snake

Scientific NameOpheodrys aestivus

Rough green snakes are native to the Southeastern United States and Northeastern Mexico. 

They are related to and look similar to smooth green snakes but are longer and have rougher scales. 

They are usually a bright green color.

Since rough green snakes are semi-arboreal, they will want both floor space and tall climbing space with vines and branches. 

River pebbles like these are a suitable and easy to clean substrate.

Unlike most snakes, rough green snakes eat insects and spiders, not rodents. 

Their small size makes bigger prey harder to digest.

If you prefer a hands-off pet snake, the rough green snake makes a good choice. 

They do not generally like handling and become scared or stressed. 

Since these are common snakes in the wild, much of the pet trade population is wild-caught, not captive-bred. 

Though these are some of the least expensive snakes on our list, they tend not to live as long in captivity.

  • Adult Size: 2.5’ ft (0.76 m)
  • Lifespan: about 15 years, usually less
  • Average Cost: Less than 10 USD

Smooth Green Snake

Smooth Green Snake

Scientific NameOpheodrys vernalis

A close relative of the rough green snake, smooth green snakes, are also native to North America. 

Most in the United States live in moist, grassy areas in Eastern and Midwestern regions, though there are some isolated populations in the Western U.S. 

They also appear in Canada. 

These are smaller snakes with a beautiful bright green color.

Keep smooth green snakes on a moisture-retaining substrate. 

Provide plenty of hiding spaces and climbing opportunities with hollow logs, hide boxes, and live or artificial plants.

Since these snakes are small, feed them live gut-loaded insects instead of rodents.

Like the rough green snake, smooth green snakes are hands-off and do not enjoy handling at all. 

Due to conservation reasons, it is illegal to own a wild-caught one in some states. 

These are short-lived snakes in captivity, as many pet specimens are wild-caught and do not thrive very well.

  • Adult Size: 14-20″ inches (36-51 cm)
  • Lifespan: up to 15 years
  • Average Cost: around 8 USD, may be more expensive depending on where it comes from

Western Hognose Snake (AKA Plains Hognose Snake)

Western Hognose Snake

Scientific NameHeterodon nasicus

Western hognose snakes are native to the western United States, the North and South of Canada, and Mexico. 

They have distinctive spotted scale patterns, grey bodies, and upturned noses. 

Captive breeders have produced several color variations.

Since hognoses are terrestrial snakes, floor space will be more critical in their enclosures than climbing branches or vertical space. 

We recommend giving them a couple of hide boxes and using shredded aspen bedding or recycled newspaper substrate.

In the wild, hognoses use their noses to dig up toads in the dirt. However, wild-caught amphibians are likely to have parasites and other pathogens which could hurt a snake. 

Therefore, they are another mouse eater in captivity.

Though they are on the expensive side, these are highly recommended for beginning snake owners and handlers. 

They are very unlikely to bite or be aggressive, and they tolerate handling very well. 

When threatened, they tend to play dead and hiss rather than biting.

  • Adult Size: 20″ in (51 cm), males tend to be smaller than females
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Average Cost: 100-700 USD

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