Ball python or Cali king snake?

I’m shopping for my first snake and I wanted opinions on which of these species is best for beginners!

Welcome to the community! I keep both and, personally, would say to get both (lol). Ball pythons are sometimes called a “pet rock.” They are gorgeous, regal snakes that come in a myriad of colors, patterns, and a combination of both. Some individuals are a little picky - only accept live, won’t switch to rats, etc., but their popularity should illustrate, if anything, that their “picky habits” are well worth the ownership.

I realize you specifically said Cal Kingsnakes, but I’ll generalize to all the more popular varieties. Kingsnakes, too, come in a variety of localities, colors, and patterns - though maybe not as extensive as BPs. Depending on which kingsnake you chose, you could be looking at a snake that ranges from approximately 3 ft, to something getting close to 5-6 ft. All the Kings I keep have readily switched to frozen/ thawed rodents and never miss a meal. They are ferocious feeders and have occasionally mistaken my finger for food once or twice. Kings are by far more active than BPs.

It really depends on what you are you looking for in a potential snake companion. Hope this helped some - im sure others will add to this.


I’m biased towards colubrids. Kings especially. The Cali kings can be gorgeously colored. I am, however, a bigger fan of the jet black Mexican Black Kings.

As mentioned above, kingsnakes are as easy to feed as you can get. They can be docile to hold, with practice. And, they will explore their cages all hours. Day and night. So, fun to watch!

Just a warning, what they are exploring for is a WAY OUT. Big escape artists, so pick a snug fit cage!


The California Kingsnake is much more active and fun to watch, and you will never have trouble getting them to eat. They also don’t require elevated humidity to shed. I would say that the only downside of California Kingsnakes is that they only live 15 years and they start to get “old” at around 10 years. An important note about kingsnakes is that they are highly cannibalistic, and should never be with another snake outside of breeding (and even then, be careful).