When thinking of getting a new pet, most people think of a dog or a cat. However, for some, cats and dogs don’t quite intrigue them. Instead, they’d rather have something cool and hairless, like a snake! And snakes can make great pets for the right person. Be advised that some people say snakes should not be pets.
If this sounds like you, you may be wondering just how good of a pet a snake can be. Though not traditional pets, snakes can bring lots of happiness to many people.
Keep reading to learn about some of the pros and cons of owning a snake, and just why so many people love their slithery friends.
Are Snakes Popular Pets?
Though snakes don’t sound like a very popular pet, they are actually owned by many people throughout the world and in the United States.
According to recent data, reptiles are the 4th most common pet in North America, with snakes being part of that group.
Data also shows that reptiles are becoming more popular amongst the younger generation, meaning more homes with pet snakes!
Though reptiles such as snakes are becoming more common, cats, dogs, and fish remain well above snakes on the pet popularity list.
This is likely because fish are easy to care for and cats and dogs are extremely common pets without the scare factor of snakes and reptiles in general.
Why Do People Own Snakes?
People own snakes for many different reasons. One main reason is that snakes are unique pets, which intrigues some experienced pet owners.
Those who already have experience with cats and dogs may be interested in trying to raise a new animal for once.
Snakes are also a perfect pet for people with allergies or for people who aren’t home much. They have no fur and don’t need to be let outside on a regular schedule.
They’re also extremely clean and don’t require much time or energy compared to many other types of pets.
Pros and Cons of Having a Pet Snake
Yes, snakes can make for a fun and interesting pet but there are also some negatives.
Pet Snake Pros
There are many pros to owning a snake. If the pros outweigh the cons for you, you may be on the track to becoming a snake owner!
Snakes Can Have Long Lifespans
If you’re looking for an animal friend to spend a long time with, a snake is a great choice.
Depending on the species of snake you have, your pet snake could live anywhere between 15-30 years of age. For some species, they could live even longer than this!
With a lifespan like that, you won’t have to worry about saying goodbye to your slithery friend anytime soon.
Snakes Are Small
Snakes are great for those living in small homes or apartments because of their small size. Snakes don’t need much space to thrive.
Depending on your snake’s size, something as small as a 20-gallon enclosure could be big enough for your snake.
Always be sure to research the size you’ll need for your pet snake. Many experts recommend a ½-foot enclosure for every foot of length of your snake.
They like to wrap and coil up, so they don’t need to stretch out much.
Snakes are Easy to Feed
Snakes are also very easy to feed and don’t require frequent feeding. For baby snakes, twice per week is enough feeding, while adult snakes can go every 1-2 weeks without food.
This is because of their slow metabolism and ability to feed off of one large meal for an extended period of time. Plus, they aren’t very active creatures.
What Do Snakes Eat?
What you feed your snake depends on their species.
Many pet snakes can eat rodents such as mice or gerbils, which are commonly sold at pet stores as either live feeder mice or dead frozen mice.
Other snakes that cannot eat rodents may prefer eggs, fish, or insects.
Always be sure any food you provide your pet snake is dead before giving it to your snake, with the exception of insects.
Larger feeding animals may inadvertently hurt you or the snake during feeding, so it’s best to have them pre-killed to protect your snake and let the feeder animal die humanely.
Snakes Need Little Attention
Snakes don’t need daily attention like cats or dogs. As long as they are fed on their regular schedule and have water available, they don’t need to be held, cooed at, or bathed.
This makes them a great alternative pet for people working long hours or who might need to be away from home regularly.
As long as your snake’s bedding, feeding, and heating are being done properly, you don’t have to mess with them for several days at a time.
This means you may also not need a pet sitter for weekend trips unless your snake has any special needs.
Talk to your vet if you have any concerns about leaving your snake with a sitter or for more than a few days.
Pet Snakes are Affordable
Because they don’t need much attention, snakes are incredibly affordable to care for.
After the initial cost of the tank and snake itself, costs for biweekly mice and fresh bedding are minimal compared to other pets.
The only costs you will have besides food are replacing heating bulbs after a few months and any potential costs for a pet sitter if you leave your home for more than a few days.
Snakes cause little issues and are an easy pet to own as long as you’re prepared.
Pet Snakes are Cool To Show Your Friends
Finally, snake owners enjoy owning their snakes because they’re cool animals to care for! They’re simple creatures but ones that are greatly misunderstood.
People who are curious about snakes may go to their friend who owns one to learn more about them.
You may even have the opportunity to show your snake to others in public settings by volunteering for schools or libraries.
Always check guidelines and make sure your pet is docile enough to attend such events. If so, show them off!
Pet Snake Cons
There are some cons to owning snakes that should be taken into consideration before taking one home. Consider the following before heading to your local pet store.
Pet Snakes Have Long Lifespans
This was the first pro, but it can also be a con. Snakes have long lifespans ranging between 15-30 years depending on the species you raise.
This means taking on a snake is a big responsibility that will last many years.
If you have any doubts about your ability to care for a snake for over 15 years, you may want to reconsider getting a snake.
An animal with a shorter lifespan may be better for your personal situation. Or, you could consider a snake species with a shorter lifespan instead of one with a lifespan of over 30 years.
Pet Snake Sitters May Be Hard to Find
Though snakes don’t need much care and can be left for a few days without direct care, you will need to get someone to pet sit if you are away from home longer than that.
This pet sitter may need to feed your snake or clean its enclosure.
Though finding a pet sitter may sound simple, you’d be surprised at how many sitters are not comfortable with snakes or not experienced with them.
You’ll have to find a sitter or friend who is either experienced or willing to learn to care for your pet. This is possible, but just another part of being a snake owner.
Pet Snakes are Escape Artists
Though snakes are generally slow and docile, they can be escape artists. They are long and skinny and can easily slither out of an enclosure with any gaps or a loose lid.
To prevent any escapes, always be sure your enclosure is designed for snakes and has a tight lid.
You don’t want to come home to find an empty cage and your snake hiding somewhere under the fridge!
If you ever do lose your snake, leave their heat lamp on in hopes they will return for warmth. They may also be tempted with a treat such as a mouse or egg.
Pet Snakes Can Have Issues With Other Pets
While cats and dogs generally get along with each other, they don’t get along with snakes. At the same time, snakes don’t get along with cats or dogs either!
You always need to be sure your snake is out of reach of your other pets to prevent both them and your snake!
A safe enclosure is a great start, but always be sure to put them on a high table or even in a separate room if possible.
The less chance there is for your snake to escape or your furry friend to open their enclosure, the better.
Finding a Snake Vet May Be Difficult
Though vets for cats and dogs are quite common, veterinary care for reptiles such as snakes is harder to find.
You’ll need to find a reputable exotic animal vet that has experience with snakes to get your snake proper care.
This may include taking your snake to a vet school if regular vets in your area do not treat exotics.
Popular Pet Snake Species
There are many different types of snakes that can be owned as pets. Take a look below at some of the most common species of snakes within the reptile pet trade.
Ball pythons are the most common snake in the exotic pet industry. They are extremely gentle snakes and are great introductory reptiles for children and teens.
They can grow to be approximately four to five feet long and can live for over 30 years.
Ball pythons need their water changed daily and may enjoy taking a swim in their water bowl.
They will also likely need a heat lamp to keep them warm, especially if they are in a cold area of the home or away from a window. They are a great introductory species for snake ownership.
Common Boa Constrictor
Boa constrictors are normally for more experienced snake owners and make excellent pets.
Boa constrictors are larger than other breeds of snake and can reach upwards of seven feet long and over 30 pounds.
Because of their large size, they should only be handled by someone comfortable with snakes of this type.
As in the name, boas constrict their food to kill it, so it’s important that you don’t put your constrictor around your neck.
They prefer large mice and small rats, which you can get at your local pet store. Though large, they still only need to be fed once every 7-10 days.
A Rosy Boa makes a good pet as they are fairly docile and don’t mind being handled. They are also hardy snakes and can thrive as a beginner pet snake for people just starting out.
California kingsnakes are an incredibly common pet snake breed. These snakes make great companions because they are nonvenomous and do well in captivity.
They can live for over 20 years and don’t require any special lighting as long as their enclosure is near natural light from a window!
They are also quite small. As babies, they can easily live in an enclosure the size of a small shoebox. As adults, they can use a container just twice that size.
The Carpet Python can be a good pet snake if you take the time to understand the care requirements. Also, you need to make sure you have a proper enclosure for them because they can be big snakes!
Having said that, a Carpet Python is a hardy snake and does well in captivity. Be Aware that Carpet Pythons can grow to be five to nine feet long!
Corn snakes are adorable orange snakes that many pet owners love. Corn snakes are docile but definitely like to have their own space.
They need a container at least as large as a 20-gallon tank and can reach anywhere between 2-6 feet.
Corn snakes don’t need special lighting, but do prefer lighting from a nearby window to regulate their night cycles.
They also need a relatively warm cage, so a distant heat lamp may be helpful if your house runs cool. Corn snakes enjoy eating rodents but also eat lizards, birds, and eggs.
The common Garter Snake makes a great pet and a good choice for the beginning snake owner. They tend to be easy to take care of and not aggressive.
Just remember that Garter Snakes do have sharp teeth and can bite you if provoked.
They are not considered venomous snakes but a bite may hurt some and you should always consult your doctor if bitten by any animal.
The Gopher Snake is a favorite among snake lovers because they are a curious and active snake that provides a lot of viewing entertainment opportunities.
The Gopher Snake does well as a pet and usually lives 14 to 15 years but some have been known to survive over 30 years in captivity!
Kenyan Sand Boa
Kenyan Sand Boas make excellent first-time snakes for reptile lovers! They are extremely gentle and are known for their reluctance to bite.
They grow between 20 inches and two feet in length, so they stay relatively small while not staying as small as the ringneck snake.
Kenyan Sand Boas are typically calm and don’t mind being handled. They also enjoy small mice and fresh water daily.
If you have children, this is a great snake to get them started on raising reptiles.
Rat Snakes are popular and can make a good first snake although they can be large snakes when fully grown.
The reason they are good pet snakes is that they are generally active during the day so they provide snake lovers entertainment and their ease of care and docile nature.
Ringneck snakes are an excellent pet for first-time snake owners!
Ringneck snakes are one of the smallest snakes you can own and are quite the opposite of giant snakes like the boa constrictor.
They are able to even curl around one finger and only require a container the size of a shoebox! A 10-gallon tank will do nicely for this snake.
Plus, they don’t eat any gerbils because they’re so small, so you don’t have to worry about buying mice at the store. They instead eat insects like worms, slugs, and crickets.
Rough Green Snake
These are small snakes (two to three feet long) and fun to watch which makes them fairly popular. They are also very unlikely to bite which is a good thing!
However, they are not a snake that likes to be held so keep that in mind when considering a Rough Green Snake as a pet.
They live off of insects so are easy to feed and are inexpensive to purchase.
Western Hognose Snake
Another great choice for a pet snake that is fun to watch, docile, and one of the easiest snakes to care for. be advised they can be rather shy and will try to hide from you!
Common Snake Health Issues
Signs of mouth rot can include a loss of appetite, inflamed tissue in the mouth, dead tissue in the mouth, and pus coming from the mouth and nose.
If you believe your snake has mouth rot, contact a reptile vet immediately.
Your snake will need strong antibiotics to kill the infection and may need surgery to remove any dead tissue in its mouth.
Your vet will do a full exam to determine exactly what treatment is best for your snake.
Dermatitis is another common health condition found in snakes. This is a skin condition caused by dirty or unfit bedding.
Because snakes have no arms or legs, they must navigate their enclosures using their entire abdomen.
If their enclosure has poor or dirty bedding, snakes can develop lesions or rashes that can quickly become infected. Redness, irritation, or discharge can be seen on the skin of snakes with dermatitis.
If you believe your snake has dermatitis, take it to a reputable reptile veterinarian immediately and quickly assess if your bedding needs to be changed.
Related Pet Snake Questions
What Are The Best Pet Snakes to Own?
There are many different types of snakes that you can own. The most common are corn snakes, king snakes, common boa constrictors, rainbow boas, and ball pythons.
Always research any species of snake you are considering before taking them home, as they all have individual needs for proper care.
The best beginner snake is one that has minimal care requirements and is docile.
Are Snakes Good Pets for Kids?
While snakes can be a good pet for kids, they must be ultimately supervised and cared for by an adult.
Depending on the snake breed, snakes can be gentle and you can teach your child to gently handle them while you clean an enclosure or refill their water.
Your child can also learn to do these simple tasks with your supervision.
Are Snakes Aggressive and Dangerous?
It depends on the snake breed you have. Many snakes are incredibly gentle creatures contrary to popular belief.
However, some snakes can definitely be aggressive and you should never approach an unknown snake expecting it to be kind.
If a snake is venomous, it can easily harm or even kill you if you aren’t careful. Always be sure your pet snake is a nonvenomous snake species and is known to be docile with its owners.
Where Can I Find a Pet Snake?
Many people find pet snakes at their local pet shops.
If you aren’t comfortable finding one at a pet store, you can go through popular pet trade events such as reptile shows and purchase one from a reputable snake breeder.
These snakes are typically extremely healthy and have great support from their breeders.
Though snakes may just be wild animals to some, they do make fantastic pets for others.
If given the proper care, they make excellent companion animals for those with allergies and those looking for a unique friend.
When you’re looking for an animal that doesn’t shed, needs minimal care, and will still show you some love then a pet snake may be in your future.