Corn snakes, king snakes, and ball pythons are three good snakes for beginners. They stay a relatively small (under 6 feet), are docile, and are inexpensive.
- Snake 1: The Corn Snake
- Corn snakes are generally easy going, aren’t difficult to care for, are manageable in size, and affordable. At maturity they will generally reach between three and five feet in length though rare six footers are known to exist. Like all snakes they are carnivores and their diet consists largely of mice.
Corn snakes come in a variety of colors with many breeders working towards producing a variety of colors and patterns. They are generally very good eaters and require very little specialized care aside from keeping their tank at the proper temperatures (88-90 degrees basking and 70-75 ambient background). Like all snakes the prefer a temperature gradient so they can more easily regulate their body heat by moving from one spot to another. Normal household humidity works fine for these snakes as Corn snakes are not a tropical species. No additional lighting is necessary but if you use it then go with a 12 hour on and 12 hour off cycle as too much will be stressful for them. Visit N.E.R.D’s site for a more complete Corn Snake care sheet.
- Snake 2: California King snake
- California Kings are hardy snakes that will often live for 10 to 15 years in captivity. Over 20 is rare, but no unheard of. They grow to about four feet in length, but five and six footers are out there as well.
The “normal” pattern is black and white banding, but breeders have managed to manipulate genetics through selective breeding to come up with a variety of patterns and colors. Like the Corn snake they need temperatures of 88-90 for basing and between 70-75 ambient. These snakes also do very well with normal household humidity. One item of note is that they are cannibals and will eat each other and your other snakes. Do NOT house them with any other snake and do NOT house them together. Visit N.E.R.D’s site for a more complete California King Snake care sheet.
- Snake 3: Ball Python
- The Ball python is a short, heavy bodied python with a gentle disposition that makes a great first time pet snake. They can live to be upwards of 40 years old and generally grow between three to five feet in length. There are Balls that have gotten over six feet but those are rare.
Unlike the previous two snakes we mentioned the Ball python has some strict requirements to keep it healthy. First the temperatures must be kept as close to exact as possible. They require a basking area that is 88-92 degrees and the ambient background temperature should be 78-80 degrees. Do not let it fall below 75 degrees as these snakes can have issues with respiratory infection. You will also need to keep their humidity between 50-60% normally and around 70-75% while they are shedding. The temperature and humidity requirements of these snakes make them good candidates for a homemade tub. It should also be noted that Ball pythons are infamous for going “off feed”. Especially in the winter months. Sometimes they will refuse to eat for 3 or more months at a time. During this time keep an eye on them and to make sure they aren’t losing excessive weight (some is to be expected) and are generally healthy. For more information about Ball pythons and their care visit N.E.R.D’s site and have a look at the Ball python care sheet.