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Can You Please Help Me Pick My First Snake?

Discussion in 'Snakes - General' started by Fade, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. Fade

    Fade Member

    This is what I found from a bit of research and I just want to see all my options for my first snake.

    Corn snake
    Ball python
    Milk snake
    Western hognose snake
    King snakes
    California king snake
    Mexican black king snake
    Coral snake(not sure, says it's venomous, I saw only in 1 list so might not be beginner friendly at all)
    Gopher snakes
    Bull snake
    Rat snakes
    Garter snake
    Sand boa
    Rosy boa
    Brown house snake
    Boa constrictors
    Woma python(not sure about these, don't know much about them)

    I listed groups of snakes as well as specific ones, obviously a corn snake is a rat snake, etc.

    I am looking for a very easy snake to care for, as well as very good at handling(I would love to hold my snake 1-2x a week, that's what people have told me is okay because you can't hold one after feeding, not sure if you can hold more often)

    How long can I hold a snake and how often?

    Ball pythons are really cool, but I'm reluctant of getting one because of how picky they can be(I am NOT feeding live), and maintaining humidity(not sure what is needed to maintain it; spraying tank, having a humid hide, or what).

    I want a snake that is easy to care for, one I can leave if I ever go for a week long vacation(7 days tops, or a weekend but doesn't happen often at all), and be interesting to watch(I will set up a natural vivarium instead of using aspen and fake plants).

    Could you list the right snakes that fit all that as well as basic care listed to the right of them(lifespan, humidity, temp, handleability, minimum tank size for adult, mice or rat for full grown, any special thing like climbing branches or how sand boas spend most of their time burried underground).

    I would GREATLY appreciate that and I of course would do a lot of research into that specific species.

    Thank you for your time.
  2. Atroxus

    Atroxus Well-Known Member

    Most of the snakes on your list would be suitable first time snakes with adequate research before purchase, with a few exceptions/caveats.

    Coral snakes are indeed venomous with an extremely potent neurotoxic venom. Definitely not suitable for keeping by anyone except those with a lot of snake keeping/handling experience, and training in keeping/handling venomous snakes.

    Boa constrictors can be good pets, however depending on the exact type/locality they can get fairly large. According to wikipedia getting as large as 12 feet(Though I have never personally seen one longer than 10ft). I had one about 20 years ago that topped out at about 10ft and she was super tame, but she could be a handful at times when handling her alone as she was quite strong.

    In terms of handling if you prefer a snake that is active and mobile while handling a mexican black kingsnake or any other king snake would meet pretty much all of your criteria. If you prefer something more placid that will just sit there while holding though, a ball python is probably a better fit.
  3. Qwerty3159

    Qwerty3159 Elite Member

    I think pretty much every snake on your list would be a fine beginner snake except for the coral snake, boa constrictor, and woma python. Are you sure it was a coral snake on the list and not a milk snake? There are a number of milk snake subspecies that have a similar appearance as coral snakes as a form of defense.
    Milk snake - Wikipedia
    I excluded the boa because the size that certain subspecies can attain can be too much for a beginner to handle, and I've never seen a woma python anywhere for under several hundred dollars.

    It'll be easier to narrow down options if you can give a little more criteria of what you want. Do you want something that could reach up to 6 feet in length or would you prefer something smaller in the 3 to 4 foot range? Most king snakes and rat snakes are great choices and generally similar in temperament and care. They are also somewhat active compared to a boa or python. If picky eaters stress you out, avoid ball pythons. Pretty much all the species you listed would be fine if you went away for a week. The maximum amount of time I handle any of my reptiles at any given time is about 30 minutes, I wouldn't advise extremely extended periods of handling (draping the snake over your shoulder while you watch TV or something.)

    Again, the decision is really yours to make and without some more criteria its hard to narrow down a selection. Pick some species that catch your eye and we can give you more information on them. :)
  4. Fade

    Fade Member

    What else could I give to narrow it down? Size doesn't matter too much. I want a snake that is handleable. I obviously won't be watching a movie with a snake, just to hold it for a short while to not stress it out. I like ball pythons size, and how they just chill when you hold but I hear they are boring to watch in the tank as they just sit their in a ball most of the time. I won't feed live, but if there is a ball python that is good on frozen, then I'd be fine with it.

    I don't want real tiny snakes, I assume they aren't as handleable, maybe the brown house snake I mentioned might fit that.

    I knew boa contrictors get huge and didn't know much about woma pythons but just listed it anyway.

    I prefer to not have to get a 75 gallon for a snake, 40 gallon would be a comfortable max for me. I figure just about any snake would be fine in that from this list, except obvious ones like boa contrictors.

    I hear ball pythons are better in a 20 long or 30 gallon as they get stressed.

    Is a 40 gallon good for corn snakes, milk snakes, king snakes, etc.

    I don't want a sand boa as they hide all the time.

    I see corn snakes are typically the number 1 choice for beginners, do they fit my wants I mentioned?

    Another thing with ball pythons is the humidity and how to maintain it.

    Does any other snake I listed need higher humidity like ball pythons or can they all be comfortable in typical house humidity 30%-50%?

  5. toddnbecka

    toddnbecka Well Established Member

    Corn snakes are the most widely available and likely least expensive, particularly if you go to a reptile show rather than a pet shop. King and milk snakes are essentially the same thing, generally also rather easy to maintain and suitable for a 40 gallon aquarium.

    As far as handling, some snakes are simply more tolerant than others. Baby snakes are instinctively defensive, sometimes downright flighty (because they're an easy meal for just about anything in the wild) but they usually calm down with size and age. My IJ carpet python was a holy terror as a hatchling, struck at literally anything that moved, no problems now. My other 2 carpet pythons were easygoing from the start.

    As far as handling, colubrids in general are more active than ball pythons. Bull and/or gopher snakes grow much too large for a 3' tank. Rat snakes covers quite a wide variety of species, ranging in size from 4'-8'+. I have pairs of Japanese, green bush, and domestic black rat snakes as well as an Everglades rat and an Okeetee corn snake. The Japanese rats are the most willing to be handled, they'll climb right out into my hands, unlike most.

    Personally, I've never been a fan of ball pythons, though I do have a pair of Halmahera Island ground boas that are somewhat similar regarding general activity level (pet rocks when handled) but strike like lightning when there's a mouse in sight. I keep them in sterilite tubs, easier to maintain the higher humidity they need.

    Garter snakes aren't particularly good for handling IME. They're small and flighty, and don't seem to outgrow it like most other snakes. For display/watching though, they're active during the day.

    House snakes are a small species, better option for handling than garters, though I've never kept any myself.

    Woma pythons don't require much humidity, mine is generally just as easy to maintain as any other snake. I currently have 40, a wide variety of boas, pythons, and colubrids. Most recent addition was a savu python, small species that would fit your criteria as well, but they're few and far between since not many folks breed them.

    Also not a fan of hognose, though plenty of people love them. Like ball pythons, they can be problematic feeders, particularly since they prefer frogs or toads and have to be switched over to rodents.
  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Any list that lists coral snakes as a beginner's snake is worthless.

    For my money the best all around beginners snake are corns. They are hardy, active but docile. Available in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Since they are all captive bred, right out of the egg they have experienced humans as good things. They readily feed on prekilled food. They reach a nice size but not big enough to be a danger. A corn can live it's entire life in a 20 long tank.
  7. Fade

    Fade Member

    Believe me I don't take everything on the internet as fact, I just wanted to quickly post this question. So it looks like my options are corn snake, king snake, milk snake, and ball python(maybe).

    Are you sure corn snakes are good in a 20 long, I get so many opinions say you should go for a 40 as they are an active snake.

    Are ball pythons truly okay in a 20 long as an adult, it does make sense as they spend most of their time as a pet rock.

    I will probably go with either a corn snake, king snake, or milk snake.

    Thanks for the help guys
  8. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The 20 long is a minimum size. Bigger is always better.
    My ball pythons were housed in a 55 gallon.
  9. Atroxus

    Atroxus Well-Known Member

    It does also depend on the animal though. I bought an adult female Lesser ball python for breeding. I put her in a 40 gallon enclosure and she refused to eat or come out of her hide for weeks. Finally I contacted the person I bought her from who confirmed she had been raised/kept in a rack system. I then moved her into a tub in my rack and she started eating for me within 24 hours, and has been doing quite well since then. On the flip side of that I have an adult male that was raised in a vivarium, so he occupies the 40 gallon enclosure and now when I buy snakes that are more than a year old I ask how they were kept so that I can keep them in the same type of enclosure they are used to.
  10. AmityReptiles

    AmityReptiles Well Established Member

    It looks like you have it figured out. I would like to mention there are some boa species that would be suitable for a 40 gallon, such as rainbow boas. Just another option to add to your list! I have also had alot of good experiences with western hognose, and recommend those as a perfect beginner snake.

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