If you have, in your possession, a snake you know you can keep, are willing to care for, and would like to keep temporarily as a pet, then the consideration start. Do note that I said temporarily: please only keep a wild-caught snake for a short time while you learn about it. As soon as the fascination with it starts to wane please release it back into its NATURAL habitat. |
Snakes are fascinating, and with regular handling can be quite tame. However, snakes are obviously not the right pets for everyone. They have unique requirements and should only be kept by those with the commitment to understand and meet their needs.
Keeping a wild, 8 foot reticulated python is definitely not the same keeping a tame, 3 foot garter snake. If you must keep a wild snake there are many things you must consider. First of all, it is illegal to catch many snakes. These laws have been put in place for a good reason every time somebody catches one the species is brought significantly closer to extinction. Please do respect these laws. However, there are some species you would be able to keep in captivity with minimal difficulty and without endangering the species. These include many fossorial (burrowing) blind snakes, some fresh-water and grass snakes, and a few other members of the family colubridae.
If you are new to pet snakes, find out what you should consider before deciding on a pet snake, and what species are the best snakes for beginners.
Choosing a Snake as a Pet - First Things First
When choosing a snake, you are making a long term commitment - many can be expected to live longer than 20 years. You must be willing to feed prey animals to your snake (though frozen, pre-killed prey is the best choice), and you will probably have to devote some freezer space to frozen prey items (i.e. rodents). Snakes are very adept escape artists, so make sure you have an escape-proof tank, keeping in mind that snakes are persistent about finding and squeezing through any small gaps. Finally, as beautiful as they are, I strongly recommend against anyone keeping large constricting snakes or venomous snakes.
About Choosing Your Snake Get a captive bred snake from a reputable breeder, if at all possible. Wild caught snakes tend to be more stressed and prone to parasites and disease, and more difficult to tame. For more about the advantages of captive bred reptiles, see Should I Get a Wild Caught or Captive Bred Reptile?
You will also want to do a cursory exam of your snake to check for any signs of illness: see Choosing a Healthy Reptilefor areas and signs to look at.
It also doesn't hurt to ask for a feeding demonstration, to make sure your new snake is readily taking pre-killed prey and feeding well. Ball pythons are somewhat notorious for having feeding problems, so this is especially a good idea with ball pythons (though if you get a captive breed ball python it seems less likely that feeding problems will crop up).
Recommended Beginner Snakes These are all reasonably sized, fairly easy to care for, and tend to be quite docile:
Corn Snakes King and Milk Snakes Ball Pythons
Snakes to Avoid Beginners should avoid large constricting snakes, venomous snakes, and snakes with more difficult care requirements, including such snakes as:
Boa constrictors / red-tailed boas (not as large as some constricting snakes, but still a handful, especially for beginners) Burmese pythons Tree boas or pythons Water snakes Green snakes
Snakes Not Recommended as Pets at AllSnakes that are potentially very dangerous (to their owners or others around them) are best avoided as pets, including:
Reticulated pythons Anacondas Any venomous snakes
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