Best Beginner Snake - General Information

Discussion in 'General Snakes' started by CornyGuy, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. CornyGuy

    CornyGuy Well-Known Member

    There has been many threads started here about what snake would be the best to start off with, easiest, etc. Maybe you are new to keeping snakes and you can't decide what species would be appropriate. All snakes have their advantages and disadvantages. Some get large, some are aggressive, and some are just very high maintenance. I've created a list of several species that are commonly kept. I've also written a brief description on each, to give you a basic idea on what you're looking at with each species. Hopefully this will aid in your decision of what snake best suits you at this point...

    Corn Snakes (Elaphe guttata guttata)
    Size: You can expect a hatchling to be around 10 - 12 inches. An adult Corn usually stops growing at about 3.5 - 5.5 feet more or less. They are slender snakes. Females are larger than males.
    Temperament: Very rarely would a properly treated Corn Snake bite. Their main defense is to escape. They are the type of snake that will be constantly in motion while you're holding them. They're always trying to get somewhere.
    Cage Size: Basically, a 10 gallon aquarium with the basic snake accessories will serve a hatchling perfectly. A full grown Corn should house in a 30 gal.
    Basic Feeding: Mouse pinkies should be fed to a young Corn Snake every 5 days or so. Increase mouse size and decrease feeding frequency, and as an adult the snake should have a large mouse every 7 - 10 days. A snake should not eat anything much larger than the snake is at its thickest point.
    Cost: A "normal" type Corn Snake could be found for roughly $20 - $30. However, depending on the morph of Corn it is, the price can vary greatly. Some of the more expensive types are about $200.
    Overall: Corns are one of the most commonly kept pet snakes. They are extremely docile, relatively small (not requiring such a large enclosure), and come in many different morphs and mutations. They are also very easy feeders. They eat almost whenever food is offered. Some eat through sheds, through the winter, whenever. And their price is very reasonable.

    If you're considering a Corn, read all the care sheets you can and ask any additional questions you may have in the Corn & Rat Snake Forum, here on the RR.

    Ball Pythons (Python regius)
    Size: A Ball right out of the egg, is expected to be around 9 - 12 inches in length. Adults average 3 - 5 feet. A 6 foot BP is uncommon, but heard of. Ball Pythons are a think bodied species. Females are larger than males.
    Temperament: BPs are nice snakes. If they’re threatened, they will usually just ball up (hence their name) as opposed to biting. They will stay still and calm while held.
    Cage Size: I believe a 20 gallon for a young Ball Python is just fine. Just be sure to have plenty of hiding areas, especially if the cage is larger than recommended. An adult will be happy in a 40 gallon aquarium.
    Basic Feeding: Fuzzy mice or rat pinks should be the food of young Ball Pythons, roughly every 5 days. An adult snake should eat the appropriate size rodent every 7 - 10 days. A snake should not eat anything much larger than the snake is at it's thickest point.
    Cost: You could expect to pay $30 to $80 for a normal Ball Python. Females cost more than males. But pretty much any other morph available will cost you several thousand.
    Overall: Balls are very common captive snakes. They're docile and a good size snake. They come in many different morphs. However, they have been known to go off food for some time; mostly in the winter and in shedding periods. It can become frustrating but sometimes preventable if you give them the proper care (i.e. correct temperatures, feeding size and times appropriate, handling kept to a good amount, etc.).

    If you are considering buying a Ball Python, do all the research you can and ask any other questions you might have here on the Reptile Rooms in the Ball Python Forum.

    Rosy/Kenyan Sand Boas (Lichanura trivirgata/Eryx colubrinus)
    Size:Adult male Kenyan Sands average about 15 - 18 inches, while females usually grow to 24 to 36 inches. Adult Rosy Boas, as well, can be 2 to 3 feet in length. Both species are expected to measure in roughly at 8 - 10 inches at birth.
    Temperament: These two snakes are very calm. If they are scared, they will most likely slither away rather than snap at you.
    Cage Size: Male KSBs can be housed their entire life in a basic 10 gallon aquarium. 20's are recommended for females. Both sexes of Rosy Boas will do great in a 20 gallon.
    Basic Feeding: Baby KSBs get pink mice, adult males get fuzzies, while a full grown female may want to eat hoppers or sometimes even adult mice. Some individuals, however, may want to eat small meals than you expect. Hatchling Rosys will go for pinkies, gradually moving up to adult mice when they are full grown. Young should be fed once or twice a week, adults once every 7-10 days. A snake should not eat anything much larger than the snake is at it's thickest point.
    Cost: Baby Kenyan Sands run around $45, baby Rosys go a little higher at $75. Albinos of either species will cost you several hundred.
    Overall: Great starter snakes; small, easy to handle, and the prices aren't too bad. These snakes have been known to be very good eaters.

    If you think you want to commit to one of these small boas, then read care sheets and all the information you can. Any further questions regarding them can be asked in the Boas Section here on the RR.

    California Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula californiae)
    Size: They are approximately 8 to 10 inches at birth, and average 3 to 4 feet in length as adults. However, 5 footers aren't too uncommon. They are a fairly slender snake species.
    Temperament: Kingsnakes in general rarely attempt to bite, although they are likely to do so if threatened or held in an uncomfortable manner. So hold them gently, without squeezing or being to firm, allowing him to move around happily. Move slowly when trying to pick them up.
    Cage Size: A 20 gallon aquarium should work well for a full grown specimen. A hatchling would live happily in a 10 gal.
    Basic Feeding: Newborns should feed on pinky mice and should be fed about every five to six days. Increase the size of the meal as the snake grows. An adult's feeding should consist of one adult mouse about every 8 - 10 days. A snake should not eat anything much larger than the snake is at it's thickest point.
    Cost: You can get a normal Cali King for $30 more or less.
    Overall: They are generally friendly snakes but can have a little attitude at times. The pricing isn't bad at all and they stay a good size so they don't require a giant cage. There are other Kingsnake species that you might want to look into as well. Some other commonly kept Kings include: the Grey-Banded Kingsnake, Speckled Kingsnake, Mexican Black Kingsnake, and several subspecies of the Milksnake such as the Pueblan, Honduran, Nelson's, and Eastern.

    If you like what you know so far about Kingsnakes, do all the research you can before you commit to one. And you can always ask any questions in the Other Colubrids Forum.

    Antaresia Pythons (Antaresia)
    Size: The Anthill Python only grows to a 2 foot maximum, the Spotted usually ranges from about 3 - 4.5, and the Children's Python stops growing at around 2 - 2.5. They are fairly thick species.
    Temperament: All of these snakes are very friendly and semi-active.
    Cage Size: An adult of all these may be housed in a 10 gallon aquarium, however, a 20 gal might be better for the larger Antaresia species.
    Basic Feeding: Feed an appropriately sized rodent to a hatchling every 5 or 6 days. As an adult, they should feed every 7 - 10 days. A snake should not eat anything much larger than the snake is at its thickest point.
    Cost:The Spotted and Children's Python can go for as low as $50. But the rare Anthill can go as high as $800 - $1000.
    Overall: These snakes have a great personality, pretty good eaters, and stay a very small size. These are great starter snakes as long as you have the money to pay for them, as they can become pricey.

    Read all you can about taking care of these small pythons if you're thinking of buying one. You can talk about them here on the Reptile Rooms in the Other Python Section.

    Please know that even though the snakes may seem cheap, they will cost you more than you think. You're looking at buying a cage, lid, substrate, water bowl, hides, heat source, thermostat, thermometer, and mice/rats every so often.

    Even though these snakes are for beginners, they still require much responsibility. You need to change their water every few days, spot clean daily, feed on a schedule, handle the snake periodically, etc. There is more to it than it may seem. Be sure you know what you're getting into before you go out and buy any snake.
    lestat likes this.
  2. i dont see milksnakes
  3. CornyGuy

    CornyGuy Well-Known Member

    The Milksnake is a species of King, so I listed a couple subspecies in the California Kingsnake description...

  4. Awesome, this is exactly what I was looking for.
  5. LeapinLeo

    LeapinLeo Embryo

    What about garter snakes! They are awsome!
  6. 00luke00

    00luke00 Well-Known Member

    Garter's are cool snakes, but i don't know whether they're the BEST choice for a beginner. That doesn't mean to say it can't be done though.
  7. LeapinLeo

    LeapinLeo Embryo

    they are pretty good but your right. I would go with corn snake! ball pythons are kinda picky eaters
  8. CalasCorns

    CalasCorns Embryo

    I would have to agree that BP's are not necessarily good beginner snakes. They require very specific temperature and humidity levels to live comfortably. Add into that their feeding issues and it's definitely not something you want a brand new snake owner to deal with.

    Btw, several of the higher end cornsnake morphs are $750-$1500+, not $200.
  9. LeapinLeo

    LeapinLeo Embryo

    Yeah corn snakes are probably the over all best
  10. Lessers

    Lessers Embryo

    People like to say bps are picky eaters... so far the two i have have not been picky at all, and they are my first snakes ever, and ive only had them for two weeks. They were eating live rat pups at the breeders, a week after i got them they took a f/t hopper mouse without a second thought. I could see a normal bp being troubleing, seeing that so many are captive hatched or wild, but so far i just havent seen the pickyness. Any snake should be easy to take care of, if you cant provide the best home possible for them then you shouldnt have them plain. although yes these would make great beginners...
  11. 00luke00

    00luke00 Well-Known Member

    This is a general debate whether or not BPs are picky eaters. The majority i've come accross have been CF, and i'd say 50% of them were picky eaters. I've actually got a non feeder here atm i'm looking after for someone. Generally speaking though, go with a CB, and you're away!
  12. Herp__Kid

    Herp__Kid Embryo

    wow. what morphs are they? the most expensive corn i've seen is 250 bucks
  13. Gloryhound

    Gloryhound Embryo

    We have over 50 ball pythons at the moment. The big question I think is what is classified as a picky eater? We have some that only eat every other week or so then we had one go off food and not eat anything for 10 months! Before we had the long time no feeder "we" (the wife and I) would get stressed out over a couple of skipped meals, but since we have experienced a perfectly healthy ball python going off food for 10 months a couple of weeks of one of our ball pythons not eating is just par for the course. With that said I would have to say a ball python would probably add stress to the life of a beginner when they experience a couple of weeks of it not eating. If they go in expecting this behavior and don't let it wig them out too much a ball python makes a good starter snake. The humidity and temp requirements are generally easy to obtain if your willing to deal with a plastic tub or put money into a nice display type enclosure. Most people try sticking them in a glass fish tank that is not made for housing snakes to begin with and that is when all the trouble starts.

    We have corns and milks, and in all honesty hate them. The babies just do not want to settle down to a point that you can relax and hold them. Maybe when they get to sub adults they may be fine. Yes they can have all kinds of pretty colors and the like, but we like to handle our snakes and relax at the same time.

    We also have kenyan sand boas. They tend to stay hidden all day and trying to fish them out to handle them can be difficult. Also you have to move them to a different container to feed them as they don't do well with digesting aspen or sand. They also have a tendency to nip for no reason. Granted my daughter loves them and they are her little project. The live birthing of these guys can make for an interesting science experiment particularly for a home schooled kid.

    We have childrens pythons also and have found these are some of the coolest snakes around. They are very curious and love to climb. They come out of hiding way more often than any other snake we own (well maybe the Nicaraguan boas come out as much, but not sure). At reptile shows they are big hits with the kids as they are so gentle. The main draw back is only one morph exists to date and that is the albino and those are selling for like $10,000!

    The cost of the snake really is not an issue with any of the above four species if you are just getting a "normal" for its breed. Your biggest cost is going to be housing them. To house one normal snake properly will generally cost you more than the snake! A basic set up is going to cost you around $75.00. A top of the line set up will be $200 or more! I actually recommend to anyone looking at getting any snake price up the set up first and remember that sometimes going cheaper is going to make your experience a lot worse than it should be! Between the normals of all four of the listed animals you are looking at a price range of $15 on the low end to $75 on the high end. If $60 dollars is going to make you settle for something instead of getting what you think is cool then maybe a snake is not the correct route to go. These are living breathing animals that deserve all the respect you would give any other animal. They cost money to upkeep. Also if it is your first snake take it to a Vet for a check up. Really I am not joking. You don't have the experience to know if something is wrong and if buy accident or trickery on the part of the person selling you get a sick snake it can definately make your first experience a bad one.
  14. SandBoaMorphs

    SandBoaMorphs Embryo

    My sons and I collect Kenyans because they are so easy to handle. My boys are real young and some of the other snakes either move too quickly and we spent time trying to fish them out of underneath pet store racks or their potential for large sizes deterred us.

    We probably have over 40 KSBs with all the known morphs, normals, anerys, albinos, snows, dodomas, stripes, tigers, rufescens and splashes. Yes they spend most of their time under Aspen shavings but most of them venture out and if you provide them with something to climb on I've found about 20% of them seem to spend a portion of the day on top of the structure.

    We have developed a 55 gallon display tank in our living room in which we house a number of young female and subadults that are the good f/t eaters in which we've placed hardened sand with artificial realistic looking low lying plants and logs for them to 'hide' under. They seem to do fine in this environment so long as they 'think' they are hidden. We use a rule that if they miss two meals we move them back to the barn and into aspen substrate. We've moved one back out of the tank in a year. They all eat, shed and are growing. It's a good alternative to looking at KSB noses all the time. I house the rest in Sterilite with heat tape and a small water bowl. Very, very easy snake and very forgiving.

    The babies tend to be a bit more snappy at birth but grow out of it after just a few times of being held. Their bites result in needle pricks that rarely draw blood and you normally don't know you've been actually bitten for a few minutes until you see that little drop of blood. It never hurts and they are more likely to just bump you with their head then actually open their mouth.
  15. codyokeetee

    codyokeetee Embryo

    Avoid garter snakes as they have the ability to 'musk'. It is smelly and hard to wash off.

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