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Keeping Large Snakes as Pets

Updated on October 7, 2008
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Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003

Pet Snakes

There are many different types of snakes that make great pets, and depending on your experience level you will want to choose a smaller and more manageable pet snake than a large snake. You don't want to get a large snake just to be able to say "I have an anaconda" because you know what? That snake will start to get big, and you'll probably get overwhelmed real fast.

But, if you have the money, means, opportunity, and experience, large snakes can make ok pets if you know how to properly handle, feed, and care for them.

And, yes you can have pet anacondas. I'm actually not 100% as to whether or not you need a license, but I'm just here to give you care info not legal info. I will go ahead tell you that if you are thinking about owning a large snake species, you want to do your research for the species and do your research for the legalities in your area. And, if you rent or are in an apartment, you want to check with your landlord because there's no way you can hide a 20+ foot snake in your apartment.

Common Large Snakes Kept as Pets

  • Anaconda
  • Burmese Python
  • Columbian Red Tail Boa Constrictor (the smaller of the three)

Caring for Large Snakes

If you have the proper experience and skill level, you already know that you should do your research per snake species. Because each species has different enclosure and housing requirements, you want to make sure that you know what the requirements are for the particular species that you are looking into keeping.

Also consider with larger snakes, you will encounter long lifespans, so make sure that you have a backup home in case something were to happen to you, even in unexpected events.

Burmese Python

Flickr Image by bsmith4815
Flickr Image by bsmith4815

Handling Large Snakes

The biggest concern with large snakes as pets is that they are large. You want to make sure that you know proper feeding and handling techniques so that you are safe living in a home with a large snake.

When handling large snakes, you should follow some of the below rules:

  • Never allow any of the coils to wrap around your body or neck because these snakes are very powerful and can cause problems even if they are not attempting to constrict, but just trying to hang on.
  • Never allow them to free roam your home. Not even if the snake was raised since hatchling. They are still animals with animal instincts.
  • Never go near a large snake after handling prey items (live or dead). Snakes have terrible vision and wonderful smell, and can mistake you for the prey. That means if you play with your dog or cat, wash off before going near the snake.
  • Never handle a large snake alone.
  • Always keep a large snake in a high security locked cage that is escape proof and only accessible by humans.

Please realized that having a large snake as a pet is nothing like having a kingsnake or ball python. These snakes are VERY powerful and mistakes happen. If you are not experienced enough or you do not have a mentor with the proper experience, you do not want to take the risk. Personally, these snakes belong in the wild or in the captive care of professionals.


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      biologymaster 5 years ago

      I own over 35 snakes (I breed snakes) all are columbian boas or bumese pythons. I have done this for many years now and have to say boas get big but none of which I cant handle by myself, as for burms, they are a very laid back species for the most part and only a few of the really big ones I require help for. Columbian boas can get to be 10 ft. but honestly stay around 6-8 ft. full grown. Burmese pythons can and will get huge but males normally stay much smaller, I have male burms that are 15 years old that are only 11 ft. I also do have to say that snakes have fantastic vision! Great blog good to see people trying to promote responsible ownership!

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      yitzak 6 years ago

      I have a female Columbian red tail i would agree that they are one of the best snakes to own, though mine is quite young still (only about 3 1/2') I know I will love her for many years to come

    • misspeachesx profile image

      misspeachesx 6 years ago from Northeast, Washington

      Great article :)

      I have an 8ft Red Tail Boa female. Best species in the world, in my opinion! I think they are an excellent choice for someone wanting a bigger snake, but without the increased dangers, money and time that come with owning a Retic or Burmese.

      I'm also pretty sure you do not need a license to own an Anaconda as a species. If you live in the city you might need an exotic pet's license depending on where you live. I do know of a few people who own them that do not need licenses to keep them.

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      Tricia 7 years ago

      I used to own two columbian red tail boas and they are an awesome snake to have. They are beautiful and for the most part pretty docile. Although the one I had was a bit aggressive but I think that was only because I had two female snakes and the other one was the dominant one. But I had them for almost 3 years and only was bit twice. And it was by the aggressive one both times. But part of that was due to my ignorance. So it wasn't the snakes fault. But I do recommend these to anyone that would like an exotic snake, but do remember they can reach up to 15 feet long.

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      Evangelina 8 years ago

      i'm only 11 years old and i'm thinking about having a Columbian Red Tail Boa Constrictor when i grow up. i've had a lot of experience with snakes and i absoloutely-i think that's how u spell it-adore them.