a garter (wild caught no less) was my first snake and it was great. i think you need to clarify that some BP's are picky eaters. i have heard it alot but never actually experienced it. Ive never had a problem getting mine to eat mice, gerbils, or rats, live or f/t, and no trouble switching between any of them. from what i can gather (and this is just my own expereince and talking to other people who own balls) it is wild caught BP's that are picky eaters and have given the rest a bad reputation for this. for ball pythons that are captive bred, and especially ones that have been out of the wild for a couple generations or more, eating problems seem to be the exception rather than the rule. i may not be right because BP feeding advice is a fairly common topic in this forum, but again, this is just my experience and other keepers whom i know personally. the point is i would recomend garters or BP's as a good first snake for anyone. i have nothing against corns, other than i find them exceptionally uninteresting, but thats just my opinion and i know many will disagree... a garter is great if you want an active, very fast snake that you can watch moving around or basking in the enclosure during the day. they are entertaining on their own and will keep you busy by constantly trying to get out of your hands while you handle him. they stay fairly small and skinny. a BP on the other hand is usually much calmer and more relaxed, move much slower unless scared, gets bigger and much fatter, and will very rarely be seen moving around the enclosure during the day. both are unlikely to bite. ive heard that garters can emit a musk, but have never expereienced that through handling dozens of them around the farm over the years, and looking back they received some less than ideal handling when i would run around with them as a kid. if you do get a garter snake, make sure the enclosure is secure, because they can make it through some unbelievably tiny spaces.