Best rear fanged species

What are the best rear fanged species for someone who has had snakes (colubrids, pythons and boas) but never a rear fanged or venomous, would handling be ok, do mangrove snakes get big enough to eat rats

I am not sure I would recommend Boiga to anyone unfamiliar with keeping colubrids in general and opisthoglyphous in specific or for anyone that wants to handle their animals because they are generally a bit higher maintenance, ill-tempered, and can have a rather nasty bite

The most common opisthoglyphous snake in the hobby would be hognose. Easy to keep, mild-mannered, generally the bites are not medically significant unless you are sensitive to the venom

Most of the other species that come to mind are not really beginner animals…

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If I was looking for something with size I would be looking in false water cobras.


Madagascar cat eyed snakes seem pretty cool. Awesome looking little docile guys that are as harmless as hognose snakes. They also look more like a venomous snake so you have the more dangerous looks in a safe package.

I’ve had colubrids just not rear fanged

Apologies, for some reason the way I read your post I thought you were new to colubrids

I currently have a single hognose working, on getting a girl for him, and a pair of cb California lyre snakes. I’ve had hognoses before and knew exactly what to expect with him as far as behavior and care. They’re great little snakes and typically I think you’d be hard pressed to get one to bite you except for maybe by accident when feeding. The lyre snakes are a first since they’re nearly impossible to find available but so far they’ve been easy to care for and while the female likes to headbutt me a lot and make a racket neither one has actually tried to bite me. I’ve read one report of a person with no allergy to the venom having a bad reaction to a bite, but in that report it was stated that the snake chewed on the womans arm for around 10 minutes which would allow for an inordinate amount of venom to be worked in. I can’t imagine just letting them do that myself so I’m not worried about. Rear fanged snakes typically have a mild toxin meant to work on animals like small lizards. Truthfully its rarely very effective even on things like mice with many species. I’ve also had the madagascan giant hognoses (unrelated to westerns and easterns) which are rear fanged as well and a 4.5ft individual would often end up eating the prey alive by force before the venom really had any real effect. Personally, my next rear fanged snake will be a pair of Malagasy cat eyed snakes. From what I’ve been reading they are small, super relaxed, and from the pics and videos I’ve seen I really want to try breeding them.

I would exercise a note of caution on statements like this.

I keep Rhamphiophis, which most people say are likely as innocuous as hognose. But I have watched them bite and release live hopper mice which have then dropped dead in under two minutes. So some of these venoms can be very effective against prey items.

More broadly, I would caution against being complacent with any opisthoglyphous species. Remember, boomslangs were considered to be a harmless, rear-fanged species until 1957 when a highly regarded herpetologist was bitten on the thumb by a captive specimen that he was complacently removing from a bag.


That’s why I said “many species” and not all. It is the individuals responsibility to research a particular species and make that call for themselves. I didn’t even say most species.

Was not meant as a knock on you.

In recent years, I have taken more to posting the cautions approach with opisthoglyphous animals because the hobby, for the most part, treats all of them as if they were as innocuous as hognose are and complacency can get people hurt.

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@t_h_wyman I understood that, just wanted to be clear as to why I worded it the way I did. Even hognoses have caused some pretty severe reactions. I have a friend who’s youngest son and wife both got bit by one of theirs and had to go to the ER due to allergic reactions. It is the responsibility of the keeper to do their research and knowing their own limitations make the call whether a certain species is right for them. When I say that I’m not worried about getting bit by the lyre snakes I probably should clarify that at this stage they aren’t even big enough to break the skin let alone chew on me and by the time they are I will have worked with them enough so that I’ll be able to handle them without worry. And if I do get bit I won’t be allowing them to chew on me. It’s not about complacency it’s about knowing my limitations as well as the limitations of the animal.

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An interesting read…

I own the book :grin:

Only just picked it up though so I have not had time to read through it

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I’ve owned 2 Malaysian Mangroves and a False Water Cobra. The FWC was pretty cage defensive but with hook training actually mellowed out quite a bit. He was never an issue once outside of his enclosure. I always free handled him with no issues (but thats always a risk as you don’t know how your body would react to a bite…Don’t let them chew on you). Well overall he was a big chunky beauty and was always out (great display animal). The Mangrove was nocturnal do was always hiding out during the day. I’d hook him out (very cage defensive) and once out was fast, busy and nervous (reminded me of some Chinese King Rat Snakes). The CB Mangrove on the other hand was pretty calm and hardly struck. It’s like all snakes…Some retics are puppies and I’ve seen corn snakes that are “mean” as hell LoL. I’d go with a FWC if you want a big display animal.


A FWC is my dream large snake. FWC, Corn snakes, and possibly hoggies I think are my 3 top non viper/elapid snakes Id wanna have. I really gotta get my city to amend its animal bylaw to allow for venomous species within reason aka stuff thats venomous but not seriously deadly like FWC, hognose, Tarantulas, some scorps etc.

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