Ssssnakes! Why did it have to be snakes? The famous movie adventurer who asked this question obviously hadn't a fondness of these very misunderstood reptiles.
As a child I owned a garter snake and he (or she) was a pretty nice pet... until she (or he) bit me! Had I been more informed I would've known the worst time to handle a snake was when it sheds its skin (referred to as 'ecdysis.')
Since my boyhood folly I've done some research and found a nice variety of snakes to purchase, especially if you are a first time snake owner. Before you purchase however, you should check if your area allows you owning one of these reptiles. Certain cities, towns, and boroughs may have ordinances regarding exotic animals.
Commitment Is The Word
Owning a snake for a pet takes commitment. You see, a great variety of snakes can live twenty years or more. That's a long time! And how willing are you to feed your pet 'prey?' Wild snakes in captivity will most likely dine on live prey but the good news is a bred snake from a reputable breeder can be fed purchased, pre-killed frozen animals.
Undulating Escape Artists
You'll also have to realize snakes are the slithering Houdini's of the reptile world, capable of squeezing through holes or openings you'd think they could never, ever squeeze through! Your enclosure must be totally escape proof.
My Best Pet Snake Choices
Now on to some snakes that are fairly easy to care for and make good pets.
My first choice would be the Corn Snake. The Corn Snake can grow up to five feet. Actually, a six foot Corn Snake is not unusual. Their temperaments are good when not handled more than a few times a week, and they can be tamed. The Corn Snake's lifespan ranges from fifteen to twenty years or so and they are not expensive.
King and Milk Snakes would be my second choice. Like the Corn Snake, these snakes are docile but rather large, topping their length at six to seven feet. These snakes too, are easy to care for and their coloring and patterning can be quite beautiful, ranging from speckled to striped, and banded.
Ball Pythons would be my next choice for a good snake to keep as a pet. Actually, a friend of mine owned a Ball Python and she loved it. They get their name from rolling into a ball when they are threatened. Ball Pythons grow from three to five feet but they are not as large as other constrictors. Easy to handle and quite docile, the Ball Python, while given the proper care, will survive in captivity for many years (and I'm talking about thirty to forty years!)
My final snake to own is a Gopher Snake, mainly because of its temperament. Their behavior is very predictable and they are very tame outside their enclosures. Gopher Snakes are good eaters (rarely refusing a meal) and though they can grow over six feet or more, they are still manageable snakes for both the novice and experienced snake keeper.
Its worthy to note here that captive bred snakes are the best to own because the wild caught snakes may experience feeding problems due to stress from captivity. Wild caught snakes may also face parasite problems from being out in the wild.
If you are a beginner, you should avoid the large constrictors and the venomous snakes as well. I consider Boa Constrictors (and red-tailed boas), Burmese Pythons, Tree boas, Tree pythons, Water Snakes and Green snakes avoidable snakes for untrained snake handlers.
By guest blogger: Tom Matteo