#1) They harbor salmonella
Snakes, like all reptiles, carry salmonella on their skin. Your child needs to be old enough to know better than to lick the animal, or handle it and then chew on his or her fingers. They say 3 or under is too young, but I don’t believe that is the case. It depends on the child and only you know your kid well enough. I’ve seen full grown adults who shouldn’t be handling snakes because they pick their noses and bite their nails without considering the animal they were holding a few minutes before.
#2) Some are simply inappropriate for children
All snakes are incredibly and deceptively strong, but there are some that just have no business around kids. I’m talking about full grown Burmese Pythons, Reticulated Pythons, Boa Constrictors, and others like those. Even adults should only handle them with assistance, but kids should never be responsible for animals of that size. Another type of snake, regardless of size, that you should avoid giving to a child are venomous ones. Not that we need to get into a great deal of discussion about “hots” in this article but we do need to make mention of it.
#3) Age isn’t just a number when it comes to snakes
Keeping any pet is a major obligation for a kid. But a snake is a whole new level of responsibility both for the child and for the parent or guardian. More than age it requires maturity. I’m going out on a limb here and assuming you’re not interested in cleaning up snake poop, feeding dead rodents to a snake, disinfecting the cage, or any of the rest of the mundane activities required for your child’s snake to thrive. But is your son or daughter mature enough to do it?
#4) They cost more than you think
First you have to buy all the supplies necessary to properly house a snake. Next you have to buy the snake itself. Finally you need to be prepared to continually invest in the animal. Food, bedding, electric to keep the heat and humidity right, vet bills, and all the rest of it. If your kid isn’t working you will be paying for all of those things. Don’t get me wrong I believe it is well worth the investment but if your budget is already thin getting a snake might be more expensive than you are prepared for.
This article did not cover every concern you could possibly have and it wasn’t meant to. It’s purpose is to get you to think about a few things you might not have as you’ve started looking into getting a snake for your kid. I’d like to recommend the following snakes as good candidates for children. I’ve also included a link to appropriate reading materials about the species on Amazon.
- Ball Pythons:
Small, docile, and relatively easy to care for. These are great children’s snakes. A great reference for parents and guardians is – The Complete Ball Python: A Comprehensive Guide to Care, Breeding and Genetic Mutations
- Corn Snakes:
Even easier to care for than Ball Pythons! Written by Kathy Love one of the foremost experts on Corn Snakes in the pet trade – Corn Snakes: The Comprehensive Owner’s Guide