Everyday we get emails asking how to pick the right snake for a pet. It usually turns into a back and forth email session that could be avoided if some simple questions were addressed before they had to be asked.
- Do you have any experience keeping reptiles in general?
- When someone has no experience with reptiles we generally recommend they get a very simple and basic snake. One such as a Corn Snake or a Ball python. Both of those species are generally “bullet proof” and reasonably tolerant of beginner errors.
On the other hand if someone has been around reptiles, even if they weren’t snakes it isn’t unreasonable to point them in the direction of something a little more advanced. A Carpet Python or Boa Constrictor for example.
- What’s the maximum amount of space you can give the animal?
- A baby snake is just like any other animal; small. A full grown snake however can be very large. A 12 foot Burmese Python takes a lot of room. When someone asks for a recommendation on a snake it’s always a good idea to consider how big it is going to be as an adult.
If you have a 20 gallon fish tank and barely have room for that a large boid isn’t going to be a reasonable acquisition. Don’t plan the snake based on what you think you might have, but plan for it based on what you know you do have. Giving up a snake you’ve had for 2 or 3 years because it got to big and you weren’t honestly assessing the situation isn’t only wrong, it is heart breaking.
- How much money, including setup are you thinking of spending on this snake?
- Most people live on a budget. If you can only afford $100 for a snake and its setup we’re going to recommend something far different than if you have $500 to spend. When you get a dog you can buy the dog and haul it around in the car with you for 2 or 3 hours while you pick up everything else. When you get a snake you need to have everything ready before you take it home. You need to make sure you’ve bought everything ahead of time the snake is going to need.
- When fully grown how large do you picture your snake being?
- A person has to have a realistic expectation of how large their snake is going to be. If someone wants a reticulated python and then says they see it being 3 to 5 feet there’s a problem. Basically the idea is to make sure that the person has a realistic expectation of the size of the animal. Seeing a 10 foot long boa in a picture is one thing. Having to handle it is an entirely different experience. You need to make sure you know what you are willing to get yourself into.
By answering those questions you give anyone trying to help you enough information to give a reasonable, educated recommendation. Sure there might be more follow up questions in order to fine tune the type of snake, but these questions give us a good starting point.
Picking out pet snakes should be an enjoyable experience and the more information you have about what you are looking for the more likely it will be.