Future Starter Snake Opinions

For those of us who have spoken before, you know that I am currently a college student, who won’t be able to begin her true collection for at least 2 years (after graduation).
I currently have a leo, hermit crabs, a Chilean Rose hair tarantula, and two bullfroglets (temporary fosters).

As said in other posts, after I graduate my crested gecko project will be first to start, but I do want a BCI in the future.
I know that almost any snake (excluding hots and arboreal types) can be a ‘starter’ with enough research, preparation, and if the animal purchased is young.
However, in order to better get used to snake care, handling, feeding F/T, aquiring F/T, etc. I have been considering the idea of getting a different snake first.

I’d like your thoughts as to if a BCI actually would be fine for a first snake, and if not, I’d like recommendations for a first snake. I know that rosy boas are generally considered great starters, but they don’t appeal to me very much.

Some of my desires/requirements:
-I’m fine with spicy snakes like kings or gophers
-Not very interested in rosy boas or sand boas
-Generally more attracted to colubrids than pythons (carpets are an exception, but I don’t think they count as ‘starter’?)
-I don’t consider BP starters based on their tendency to go off food which stresses me out, so I’m not even considering them

At the moment, I’m considering a pine/gopher/bullsnake, as they are excellent size, beautiful head shape, and spicy, which will help me get good with a snake hook, reading behavior, and avoiding strikes. All important for an eventual 40-60lbs BCI.

I’ve also heard they musk less than kings, which is a plus.

Would love thoughts and recommendations, thank you!


Not a boa person, but I am a colubrid person, so I’ll throw in a suggestion:
Japanese Rat Snakes are pretty great starters. My boy is over 5ft, doesn’t require heat, he’s pretty chill with handling as long as he doesn’t think you’re food (got scars from that one), and they are just gorgeous snakes. I’ve got an albino, but even the wild type is a stunning blue-green. They’re not a hugely popular species, either, which is nice.


Oh a wonderful idea! I’ve seen Snake Discovery’s Vietnamese Blue Beauty rats and they are gorgeous!


I would definitely recommend the boa :relaxed:. Personally I’m going to have three boas and a corn snake in my collection as of now and I just have a heart for boas. They are simply amazing pets and captives.


They actually have at least one Albino Japanese Rat, as well, though I think he’s in the back and not the zoo itself (idk if they’re keeping the species or just had them for retail). There are a couple of listings both for normals and albinos in Other Rat Snakes at the moment, too.

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I highly recommend corns and bulls. I love bulls, they’re fun high energy and even though they act vicious they’re big bluffers. Benefit for corns are they’re inexpensive and you can find just about any color and pattern you want.


I mean, I think I’m obligated to suggest a corn! :grin:

But really, they’re a great species. Very easy to keep, good eaters, hardy, typically pleasant personalities, and they come in lots of bright colors and fun patterns. Plus, they aren’t too expensive.


Cornsnakes make me happy bc of their big goofy eyes, and true, they would be an inexpensive starter considering I wouldn’t need a fancy morph for breeding or anything.
I am leaning toward bulls, but honestly, I think if I did that then I’d be getting more work than a baby BCI, bulls are delighfully spicy, ha!
Gosh there’s just too much to choose from! And that doesn’t even begin to explain the choice of morph I have to make when I’m ready for a BCI!


If you’re into boas but are wary of the larger adult size of traditional BCC/BCI for a starter, you could go for a dwarf locality boa. Sonorans are quite small (even the females should stay under 6’), and there are some others that are of similar or even smaller size.

Most of the colubrids that are common in the pet trade (corns, gophers, bulls, kings, milks, rats, etc.) also make good starters. Most are of small or moderate size, though bull snakes are going to be on the larger end of the colubrid size spectrum.

House snakes can make good starters in that they’re generally docile and hardy, though I’ve heard that some can be picky eaters, so if that trait turns you off from ball pythons, then maybe house snakes aren’t the best option for you. But they’re awfully cute!

Hognoses are super cute and can make good starters from what I understand.

Ultimately it just depends on what “speaks” to you. Since you have some herp experience already, I don’t think you should necessarily feel limited to traditional “beginner” species just because it’s your first snake.


I appreciate this! I think that was my main concern; I have lots of experience with exotics and some good herp experience, but I wasn’t sure how ‘small’ I should start given that herp experience isn’t with snakes.

Dwarf locality boas are a GREAT option I didn’t even think of! I tend to hyperfocus on things I like, so I didn’t even consider starting with a big boa that wasn’t a BCI. That is an amazing alternative; there may not be as many morphs, but there are certainly some, and honestly in boas sometimes the wild type is just as stunning as any other morph


You guys are the BEST for all these amazing suggestions! Seriously, I cannot thank you all enough. These 2 more years without new herps is going to be a test for sure!


I think you should jump in to the snake you want long term. Remember, any snake you get can start out small. You could have literally years of experience before any animal gets big on you.

Also to consider, any snake you do start out with, could be around for more than ten years. It would be sad to have a critter around that long if you lose interest. You seem ready to do the big work, I say go for it!


I think it’s important to get something you actually want and like. Don’t get a “beginner” species that doesn’t excite you just because it’s a “beginner” species. I got a blood python (often cited as a more “intermediate” species) as my second snake. A few people I talked to tried to convince me to get a ball python first, since it would be good “practice” for the larger, heavier, and sometimes more spicy blood python, but the reality was I didn’t really want a ball python. Getting a snake I didn’t really want that could live for 20+ years just didn’t seem responsible or compassionate to me. I had some experience with reptiles and was reasonably confident I could manage the husbandry needs of a blood, and I figured since I planned to get a baby, we could “grow into” her adult size together. I got my blood last February and haven’t regretted it. I have a gorgeous snake I adore, and her care and temperment have been totally manageable. And because it’s a species I really, really wanted, I’m fully committed to giving her the best possible care and am enjoying the hell out of her.

A dwarf boa would be a great choice! The gorgeous leopard morph is of Sonoran origin, and I think several other morphs also come from Sonoran stock and/or have been worked into Sonoran bloodlines, so you may even have more morph options than you think. I don’t know as much about other dwarf localities, but maybe someone more knowledgeable can chime in. I have plans to get a boa as my next snake, and even though I kinda want a larger snake, I’m still awfully tempted by those beautiful leopards. So freaking pretty. Plus Sonorans have really unique, beautiful faces that I just love.


Thank you for this amazing input!
I think you’re right, the passion for the animal will result in better care; that’s why so many medium parrots like conures are mistreated or abandoned, they are seen as beginner birds you need to have before the grays, macaws, or cockatoos so they are treated with frustration and lost interest.
And that’s a great point about growing together. While my baby snake would get big, it won’t happen at a pace I’d be taken surprise by. Plus I think growing up with my snake sounds super cute.
I think a boa it is, previous snake experience or not!

You guys are an amazing community, seriously. I know I’ll be chatting with some of the boa experts here when the time comes to narrow down the species, locality, and morph bc WOW more decisions!


Getting what you’re excited about goes a long, long way to keeping the passion going. I love my corn snakes for all the usual reasons you see, I think they’re all beautiful, but they’re not everybody’s delight. I think it’s really cool that you’re exploring ideas and putting sound thought into committing to an animal you’ll hopefully have and love for years. You’re clearly showing your ethics, you’ve got animal experience, and I’m sure you’ll be a great snake-keeper. Since you’re thinking boa, I hope you find just the right boa for you!


Thank you so much for your kind words! I was lucky enough to be raised by a wonderfully nature-loving mom, and probably spent more time in the woods than in the house, so I try to treat my captive animals with as much proper care and respect as possible. We choose to take them in, so we have to be ready to make the choices that will benefit them their entire lives.
I’m glad I reached out on this forum, everyone is so kind and knowlegable!



This is the standard all responsible keepers of any creature hold. Beautifully worded.


Thanks :slight_smile: I try to hold myself to a super high standard, even if that means I’m only able to care for a limited number of animals; they’ll be living their very best lives and that’s what matters to me!


So here is another boa idea. I have a Brazilian Rainbow boa named Nod. He has always been a tad spicy, eats great and is as strong as a “bull”! Lol! He turned 3 years old this past summer. He is a little larger now.


A 40-60 pound Boa is almost unheard of. I’ve been breeding various subspecies of Boas for 12 years and I’ve never had a female over 15 pounds; including BCC.