Best first pet snake

Many resources on YouTube and Google suggests that the first best pet snake is either a ball python or a corn snake but highly leads towards the ball python. But when you go onto reptile forms much like this one usually recommend corn snakes for the first best pet reptile/snake. Much of the information on Google and YouTube states the ball pythons only require a small difference in humidity, which is true, but can be difficult for a beginner keeper to achieve. Also with their tendency to go off feeding for a while on end, unlike corn snakes I find it odd that they would want to recommend a snake that might cause stress and anxiety to the keeper let alone the snake if they’re trying to feed it every week and it’s just on a fast. For example in my house which I believe is around the average ambient temperature of 75°. A corn snake could live very comfortably but the ambient temperature for a ball python maybe too low. My question is why is there so much information that points beginner keepers towards higher humidity levels, fasting, some times very anxious snakes that are trying to hide a lot, instead of trying to recommend probably a better alternative in terms of regular feeding, humidity, temps, and maybe even defensiveness?

I really think BPs are just recommended because everyone and their second uncle has one and there is a huge market for them. The issues they can have with stress/fasting along with the higher temps/humidity requirements doesn’t make them a very good beginner snake. Not unless you know what you are getting into. Sadly most people suddenly jumping into owning a BP don’t know enough about them to not panic when they don’t eat, or just don’t know tricks for humidity. Or don’t know they need a ton of cover if they decide to use a huge tank even though tubs are the best thing for babies. Corn snakes, rat snakes, king snakes, milk snakes and many other North American colubrids will always make for easier beginner snakes. They are rock solid and unless you are really neglectful/clueless they thrive, especially in large tanks they can explore in. Not to mention they are way more fun and interactive.

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It not about how easy they are to be cared for because they both are, it’s about their tolerance and in that case a cornsnake is a better first time snake for most new owners, they tolerate handling better, they tolerate husbandry mistakes better and are less prone to stress.

Very rarely do you see a new cornsnake owner having issues from feeding to defensive behaviour, not the case with new Ball Python owner, than again if they did better research and had lower expectations they would not have has many issues either.

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Does anyone have any suggestions for a constrictor better suited for beginners than the ball python? I will be a beginner when I get my first snake, and I want to make the most informed decisions possible.

In my case, it would be as a lifelong pet. Though I absolutely see the beauty in all kinds of snakes, I think I must be biased in favor of the ‘chubbier’ appearance of a ball python versus a cornsnake. :joy: I’d likely be the sole handler of the snake, so size would also be a consideration for me.

What are you comfortable with as in size?
What enclosure do you plan to use?
Do you want to feed mice or rats, or is that not an issue?
Would you prefer a more active species or laid back?
Do you want to work on taming it down or would you prefer a more docile species?
If you could answer those questions, I could
give some better recommendations :grin:.

Unpopular opinion here but I believe that balls and corns are recommended as best first snakes not because of their ease of keeping or handling or feeding (all of which can actually be a bit problematic) but because they are easy to produce in abundance so they are seen as “disposable”

Fundamentally, they are basically just carnival goldfish

I mean my first pet snake was a boa imperator or BI, but that was after many years of very detailed research in their care, knowing that I could and would be comfortable with his or her adult size, and care for many years. Like the fact that I always knew that when he would get about 5 feet I would have to go to a PVC enclosure, which I chose from animal plastics, which is still being shipped because of the virus. As @mnroyals says about any snake it is all about research and preparation for in the years to come as their care could become more and more difficult with size.

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I think there isn’t a “easiest snake to care” I mean if you have passion and love and knowledge you can keep very different types of snakes

@mnroyals In my case (though this is awhile in the future, so I can’t be sure):

-Size-wise, I am comfortable with anything I can carry on my own in an emergency (not necessarily for a super long distance). The limiting factor is mostly my hands. I have a painful condition in both hands (we’re still pinning it down but so far it seems like CRPS to me), which is why I’m ‘retired’ at 38. :woman_shrugging: Though I have an unnaturally high tolerance for pain, I think lifting a snake over ~15-20 pounds might be difficult. Under 10/12 might be ideal. Though what I’m more concerned about is having a super-active, super-skinny snake that escapes because I’m a n00b.

-I was (very loosely) planning to use the 40 gallon I already have, but ultimately I would house my snake in whatever would be best for it. I’d be quite bummed if I couldn’t find a snake that would be comfortable living in a tank/display cage where i could easily look in, but I’m not going to sacrifice an animal’s welfare just to make better eye candy.

-In terms of food, I’d have to avoid having to feed something where I would need to breed the prey items myself, as I get very easily attached, because I’m a softie. I’m also only personally comfortable with F/T (insofar as vertebrate prey are concerned) from a company whose euth practices I approve of. I’d also like to be able to purchase the food items pretty reliably. I know some snakes prefer frogs, lizards, etc., so I guess I’d want to avoid those if they aren’t available commercially?

-I like laid back species. I know that’s weird, but I’m a couch potato through and through. I hate it when my fitbit shakes and tells me to take more steps, heh.

-I’d probably aim for fairly docile, as I’ve not owned a snake before. But I don’t have a problem with being bitten, aside from embarrassment, unless the snake is really big or venomous. A friend of mine had this Taiwanese Beauty Snake (if I remember the name correctly), and I would come over and hold it occasionally. And it would start trying to eat me every. single. time. I mean, it would just sit there and keep munching on me, but it never did it to anyone else! I only had a cat at the time, and I’m vegetarian, so it’s not like I was holding it with barbecue chicken on my fingers or after having held a small animal or anything. It was pretty hilarious.

@lumpy I’m generally not the kind of person to buy or adopt an animal on impulse. I wouldn’t ever take on a pet that I was not 100% confident I would be able to house & care for appropriately as an adult. So no Burmese pythons for me! :sob:

I wasn’t planning on ever getting married, but now that I think about it, I may be willing to marry someone that would help me with reptile care and expenses! I need a sugar-person! :joy: Any takers? :rofl:

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Hmmmm :thinking:.
You know besides the 40 gallon breeder, which would still be possible with this species I’d recommend, just need to control the humidity and heat which can be a little harder with screen tops.
I’d recommend either a male common boa, or dwarf boa subspecies. I know they can get over 10 pounds sometimes but they are active but yet slow moving. They will readily take F/T without issue and can be housed in display tanks relatively well.
It’s not weird to like laid back species at all, it’s completely your preference and no one but you can say that is wrong. All what you’re comfortable with really, and boas are very laid back in my experience. Male boas can be 4-8ft depending on species. Most don’t hit 8ft, even for common red-tailed boas that’s a huge boa.
The ones I’ve worked with sometimes can be nippy as hatchlings but most are docile from what I’ve experienced. I have really good luck with snakes tho, as I’ve always had docile snakes no matter the species.

I would also recommend a Bairds rat snake or Rosy boa. Bairds eat very well but they are very active when handled, which could pose problems for a new keeper. Rosy’s are slow moving, generally docile but can have problems feeding from time to time.
Both of those species would do well in your tank, but the Rosy would do better in a smaller one to start then move them up as they grow. Bairds stay in the 3-5ft range, males being larger than females(surprisingly), Rosy’s are around the 2-4ft range.

The one thing I would consider tho, is you may need to feed live at some point for any snake. The one thing I tell every new snake owner is to prepare to feed live if needed, but most of the species you’d start with will take F/T, especially Boas. And all 3 species I listed would do well on mice and rats, you wouldn’t need to go any larger than a rat for those species. Especially if you pick a male boa, female boas will most likely take rabbits once mature.

Those are what I think would be a good fit for you. Of course do a lot of research on whatever species you plan to move ahead with, and then research some more.

Hope that helps :grin:.

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Male Boa for the win!!! :wink:

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:joy: I knew you’d be on the boa wagon.
I love them too Riley, hard not to. Probably my second favorite species overall.

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Thank you so much! :smiley: That is definitely helpful. And I would absolutely feed live if it was necessary for the health of the animal. Right now I’m working on switching one stubborn leopard gecko over from mealworms to silks & horns, and it is grim work- I always get invertebrate guts all over me! While I didn’t hesitate to do it, I wouldn’t intentionally sign up for a gecko that would likely require evisceration of its prey for its entire life. :nauseated_face:

I wouldn’t recommend starting most baby snakes out in a 40 gallon breeder. Especially not BPs given how stressed they can get in extremely large enclosures. The only ones I can even slightly recommend doing so with would be a few different species of colubrids. They are out actively hunting for food, and aren’t scared nocturnal predators like BPs so they are less likely to stress. The main reason I don’t recommend starting any snake in that large of an enclosure is because it is hard to monitor them. Imagine if you were to start a baby gecko out in that, how challenging would it be to make sure it is ok given how much cover you would need? Start babies out in tubs so you can make sure they are healthy and eating, and once they gain some size then put them in the tank.

If you don’t want a chance of having to feed live, then I also wouldn’t recommend a BP since they are notoriously picky and can suddenly decided they never want to touch a F/T mouse again. Or you might have to switch between the 2 at some point, as that is what I had to do with my female BP for a couple meals.

BPs can also be more active when being held than you would think, and are very strong for their size. My male BP never stops moving, and is stronger than my 6’1" 945 gram female rat snake, and he is just now over 600 grams.

However, if you want the slowest of slow and easy to feed snakes without them getting big, get a rosy boa. They are one of the slowest moving snakes in the world and eat everything. They are famous for being voracious, so much so that if you don’t socialize the babies they may want to eat your fingers. The females of course, like with most snakes, tend to not to go off of food unless you breed them or want to burmate them (I recommend this for rosy boas since they do so in the wild). Males can when they want females much like a BP or a sand boa. You don’t have to worry about keeping humidity up for them, and they generally won’t need to eat anything larger than a jumbo mouse. They also don’t need temps higher than 86°F. Some people will try to say keep a basking spot of 90°F, but they aren’t a basking species and they don’t have a good feeding response when kept that hot as they are actually nocturnal and the night time temps where they are native to are pretty low (around 65-75°F depending on the locale). They stay under cool rocks during the day so they keep cool in the mid 80s during the heat of the day. My rosy burmates herself even if I keep her temps up, and won’t go back on food generally for at least a month. An adult rosy (especially a female) would be fine in a 40 gallon tank. Especially since they usually are small enough to stay in a 20 gallon. But they are the slowest of the slow, and small, so you never have to worry about a thicc strong fast snake.

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That’s basically why I only keep snakes. I don’t like feeding bugs :joy:.

One thing I forgot to add with Rosy boas and Bairds rat snakes, they both do well in desert setting environments, which I feel you’re experienced in. They don’t require the humidity levels of a boa, and are more forgiving to husbandry errors.

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The glory of rosy boas. I swear most species native to the U.S. just seem more forgiving to any mistakes. And not having to worry about humidity is a plus given how difficult it is to keep it in a tank.

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I agree with @ashleyraeanne on Ball Pythons.
Many stress very easily, which lead to feeding issues, and they are truly stronger than you’d expect for a snake their size.

I’d stay away from Ball Pythons, I appreciate them as that’s what I first kept for a captive bred species. But for new keepers I think it’s a no no.

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I’m actually considering maybe asking for some type of milksnake or kingsnake. Originally before I decided I’m getting a boa I was considering a Honduran milksnake or and Brooks or MBK. Because I want something that might be not as great as handling standards go as Kai but you see it out more and moving around and exploring it’s enclosure.

That’s the thing I appreciate most about colubrids. They are so active you can literally sit there for hours just watching them explore their enclosure.

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Kai is what I considerable would be like my handling snakes when like, when the milk/king would be like yes handling but it would be a visual experience to make the enclosure as beautiful as possible , and enriching