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So You Want A Snake For A Pet, Choosing A Pet Snake

Updated on August 10, 2013
The Snake in the photo is a beautiful California King Snake. It is a common pet that is a great snake to start with if your considering keeping a pet snake.
The Snake in the photo is a beautiful California King Snake. It is a common pet that is a great snake to start with if your considering keeping a pet snake.

Snakes Make Fascinating Pets

And are also great with helping to educate children about wildlife, pets, animals, and responsibility. Picking the right snake is really important. With the proper handling a snake can become quite tame.

If it was me choosing the first snake for a youngster I would almost always choose a Corn Snake or King Snake. Both species of snake are excellent snakes that don't mind being handled and with proper handling and care they can become quite docile.

Remember Snakes Are Escape Artists

My first words of caution to anyone getting a snake is that snakes are some of the best escape artists in the world. If a small young snake gets loose in your house you may have a tough time ever recovering or catching the snake and returning it to its cage or enclosure. I know one family that lived in the country in Georgia that were surprised to discover that a five foot King Snake they discovered in their living room one day was the same three foot King Snake that had escaped from their sons bedroom upstairs four years earlier. It had apparently lived in the house with them for the whole time living on field mice that got into the families home. It was in great shape and excellent health when it was found in the living room. It was returned to a much larger tank with a lock down top and it is still doing well several years later.

Any snakes cage or enclosure needs a lock down top. I use the reptile tops where you have to pull the pins back to lift up the top. Larger snakes are really strong and can push loose fitting or unlocked cage or tank tops up and escape.

Feeding Your New Snake

Most people including myself suggest feeding snakes on killed prey if at all possible. You can usually purchase pinky mice or adult mice in the freezer section at your local pet store or over the internet. I suggest you ask the person selling you the snake to show you that the snake is eating especially if it is a young snake. If you feed your snake killed frozen prey you always let the prey animal thaw to room temperature before you add it to the snakes enclosure. If the snake will not take the prey try using a set of tongs to tease the snake with the prey to encourage the snake to strike at and take the prey animal.

Check Out The Seller Of Your Snake

You should always check out the reputation of anyone selling you a snake. You can go to Google and check out their name by doing a search for it in the search engine. If you find a lot of negative comments move on to another seller. I avoid purchasing snakes from people who can not offer any references. And yes I do check references. If I'm going to spend a lot of money on a snake I'm going to slow down and do through research on any seller of snakes. If there are problems you will usually find them with a Google search. This is why I tell people who are buying a first snake to go with one of the chain pet stores where your usually going to get some type of waranty or guarantee.

keep in mind that you get what you pay for. If you buy snakes only from well known suppliers or chain pet stores you're likely to have far fewer problems.

Finally I always suggest to new snake keepers that they keep a detailed journal about their snake where they write down daily observations, what the snake eats, when it eats, when it sheds, when it poops, any unusual or strange behavior and etc.

Keeping A Snake As A Pet.

Snakes are not slimy and if you choose the right snake and use patience in time your snake can become quite tame. If you want to have a tame snake you need to handle it often and when you do handle it be sure to support its body and be sure not to drop it. You can injure your snake if you do drop it. If you're afraid of snakes then a snake is not the pet for you.

But one thing you really should do before you think about buying and keeping a snake is you need to do your own research and learn everything you can about the species of snake you are thinking of keeping. A King Snake like a California King Snake makes a perfect first snake for most people. They are beautiful and with self education you should be able to know exactly what your snake eats and what kind of enclosure and habitat your snake will require.

You want a docile snake as a first snake that is not going to be trying to strike at you. King snakes make perfect first snakes for almost anyone because the snakes are rather docile and are very easy to care for.

You really need to learn everything you can about the particular kind of snake you are thinking about keeping. Keep a journal and I strongly suggest you find a snake you can purchase locally. This way you will be able to ask the person selling the snake what the snake has been eating, how often the snake has been eating and what kind of enclosure have they been keeping the snake in. Write all this down so you can go back and see exactly how you need to care for your snake.

Remember when you choose a snake as a pet you are making a long time commitment. Your snake will probably live 20 years or more in captivity. Know that you will have to feed prey ( Usually Mice and Rats ) to your snake. Some but not all can be fed mice or rats that have been killed and come to you frozen. But you may have to feed some species of snakes live prey. Dead prey should always be given to your snake when ever possible because live rodents can bite and injure your snake.

Know that most snakes are escape artist so its important to have a tank or enclosure with a secure top that the snake can not get out of. If you buy your snake locally ask the person you purchase it from exactly how you need to set up its tank or enclosure. And be sure to write everything down so you will be able to refer back to it. Snakes can get through holes that you would not think possible. So be sure to keep this in mind. You do not want your snake to escape. You just might be surprised at how hard it is to find an escaped snake in a three bedroom house.

You really need one of the reptile cage or tank tops that fastens down so the snake or snakes can not escape.

I almost always use shredded newspaper for the substrate for my snakes. Its easy to make all the shredded newspaper you need and you can easily change the shredded newspaper when you need to.

Always Do Your Own Research On Your Particular Snake Species

You should be sure to do good research on your particular species of snake. King snakes or corn snakes are the easiest snakes especially for someone who has not kept snakes before. Learn everything you can about your snake and ask questions of the person you buy it from. If at all possible buy your snake from a local pet shop or dealer.

How To Care For A Shedding Snake.

Be sure that you read the hub page I have on caring for a shedding snake. CLICK HERE NOW

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Scarlett King Snakes are beautiful and available for sale in the U.S.A. They can be confused with the poisonous Coral Snake that is native to the Southeastern U.S.A.
Scarlett King Snakes are beautiful and available for sale in the U.S.A. They can be confused with the poisonous Coral Snake that is native to the Southeastern U.S.A.

Choosing A Pet Snake

No one but a professional should ever keep a poisonous snake. They are dangerous and should be left to the professionals. But also keep in mind that pythons and some boas will grow quite large if well cared for and should also be left to the professionals. A three foot python would be easy to care for but a twelve foot python can be a handful.

The King Snake species is a great snake especially for a first time snake owner. But again do your research. If your going to be keeping a king snake or maybe even several king snakes you should learn everything you can about the king snake species. There are four main species of king snake and 45 sub species of king snake. The king in their name refers to the fact that king snakes like to eat other snakes especially rattle snakes. King snakes also eat other snakes, rodents, eggs, and birds.

King Snakes are quite often kept as pets because of how easily they are to be cared for. A king snake is usually gentle and docile but you should not mess with them when they are eating. You should also try to acquire a king snake that can be fed on pre killed rodents as live rodents can bite your snake and hurt it.

You should provide your king snake with a large bowl of water and be sure to use a bowl for your water that will be secure so the snake can not easily turn over the bowl of water. The snake may want to soak in the bowl of water especially if it is getting ready to shed. And its very important that you clean its water bowl on a daily basis. The water must be kept clean and fresh.

Your king snake should be kept between 75 - 85 degrees and its real important to keep it in that range. If your king snakes cage or enclosure gets to dry mist it with a water bottle with bottled water. Don't use the water out of the spigot for your snake or snakes. Purchase and use bottled water to insure your snake stays healthy.

Keep in mind you can not keep two king snakes in the same enclosure as they will end up eating each other. If you are interested in breeding king snakes again do your research. You can use shredded newspaper as a substrate for your king snake and you should provide it with a hide box or two. You need to clean your snakes cage or enclosure at least once weekly and some times more often. You can keep a plastic box with tight fitting lid with holes punched in it to keep your snake in while you clean its enclosure or cage.

If you have questions about king snakes or keeping king snakes please post in the comment section below. I really would love to hear from you about your king snake so feel free to post a comment about king snakes now. And thanks for taking the time to read this hub page today.

Corn Snakes Also Make Great Pets.

CLICK HERE to read all about Corn Snakes.

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It is always best when ever possible to feed your snake killed mice or rats. Live rodents can attack your snake and bite and injure it.
It is always best when ever possible to feed your snake killed mice or rats. Live rodents can attack your snake and bite and injure it.

Live Rodents Can Attack Your Snake

It is always best to never feed live mice or rats to your snake. Rodents have very sharp teeth and they can injure your snake. At some pet shops and stores you can buy dead mice and rats that you just thaw and feed to your snake. You should also never feed wild caught rodents to your snake as this can spread parasites and other diseases to your snake. Remember always do your own research and find out everything you can about your particular snake and how to care for it.

There are a rare few snakes that will not feed on dead rodents. If you must feed live rodents to your snake inspect your snake after it has finished feeding and make sure it has not been injured. In the event that your snake does have a bite or a tear take it to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will know exactly what to do for your snake to get it well. If you plan on keeping a snake or snakes you should seek out a local veterinarian that is knowledgeable about snakes. Always be prepared. Some veterinarians will not treat snakes so call and ask. Don't wait until you need a vet for a snake before you call and ask.

If you ever notice something strange about your snake or if it starts shedding and several days go by with no progress take your snake to the veterinarian to get it checked out. Know that a shedding snake will not eat while it is shedding and the process can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks. If much longer than two weeks goes by and your snake has not completed its shedding process it may be time for a trip to the vet.

When you first get your snake look for a veterinarian in your area that will work with snakes. Don't wait until you need one before you start looking for a vet for your snake.

Let us all hear your comments or questions about king snakes now. And thanks for reading.

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    • profile image

      Reptiles for sale 

      7 years ago

      I've got hundreds of reptiles for sale, and no one can beat my prices. Just an FYI. Thanks.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Informative hub.This was very interesting hub.Photos of the snakes are beautiful. Well done.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      This was a very interesting hub, and the photos of the snakes are beautiful. You've also given great advice about the care and containment of a snake as a pet.

      I wouldn't have one for a pet. I'm not exactly phobic, but I'm not very comfortable around snakes, even though on the farm, Dad didn't want the garden snakes killed. He said they kept down rodents; also would, to some extent, aereate the soil. He viewed them as beneficial creatures. I got used to seeing them outside, and noticed that they wouldn't bother a human being on their own account; you just let them slither away.

    • Sneha Sunny profile image

      Sneha Sunny 

      7 years ago from India

      I would never prefer a snake over a dog as a pet. I would prefer those animals as my pet who are smaller than me. I don't want to end up being their dinner. But nice share.

    • crazyhorsesghost profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Byers 

      7 years ago from East Coast , United States

      Reptiles and the sale of reptiles is a huge business especially in the USA. Most snakes now sold in the USA are captive born so snakes for the most part are not being taken out of the local eco system.

    • Alma Cabase profile image

      Alma Cabase 

      7 years ago from Philippines

      I think snakes are better off in the jungle rather than kept as pets. They are crucial in maintaining the balance in our ecosystem. However, keeping them in zoos to repopulate is a move which I fully support.

      This is a very interesting hub.

      Keep it up!




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