Pet Snake: How To Decide On The Best Type To Adopt – DodoWell

If you think snakes are just the coolest animals, you might be interested in caring for a pet snake yourself.

But before you decide to take the plunge into reptile parenting, there are a few things to keep in mind about pet snakes.

We spoke to Leah Feusse, vet assistant at DodoVet, to find out what to feed them, how to care for them, and what species make the best pets for beginners.

Can you have snakes as pets?

Snakes can make great pets, but there are some things you need to know about taking care of them, especially if you’ve never had a snake before.

Snakes only eat prey

Since snakes are carnivores, they only eat meat. But here’s the catch — snakes eat their prey whole, so you can’t just run to the store and get canned snake food or a bag of kibble.

“Many snakes only do well with thawed frozen rodents,” Feusse told The Dodo.

Snakes are cold-blooded

This means your snake cannot regulate its own body temperature. Instead, he needs an external heat source to keep himself warm.

You can purchase a light separately to add to your aquarium, but some reptile terrariums come with built-in light and heat sources.

Like this one from Chewy for $75

Snakes cannot be kept as pets

There are several types of snakes that you cannot keep as pets.

Poisonous snakes

You should not keep venomous snakes as pets for obvious reasons.

“Some can have deadly bites,” Feusse said. “Housing [and] Trying to groom and feed them puts you at constant risk. Not to mention the danger to the public if they escape.”

Snakes over 8 feet long

Massive snakes do not make good pets for a number of reasons.

“They need larger enclosures than most humans [can’t] set up in their homes,” said Feusse. “Even oversized snakes are dangerous.”

Wild caught snakes

It’s also not a good idea to try to raise a wild snake as a pet.

“They’re usually aggressive because they feel threatened all the time,” Feusse said. “Most never adapt to captivity and carry diseases and parasites. Wild-caught snakes do not live long and some will die from refusing to eat under the stress of captivity.”

Snakes that are illegal to keep as pets

In some places you are not allowed to keep a snake as a pet. The legality of having a pet snake will vary from state to state.

It is illegal to keep snakes as pets in:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • new York
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

The states that aren’t on this list have different laws about keeping snakes as pets — some require permits to keep venomous snakes, some require permits to keep non-venomous snakes, and some have no restrictions at all.

So before adopting a pet snake, make sure you are familiar with the laws in your area.

“Counties and cities in each state can have different restrictions and are constantly changing,” Feusse said. “So you should always check with your municipality.”

Best Pet Snakes

These are some of the best pet snakes for beginners. And according to Feusse, these snakes can be quite tame and most don’t bite immediately when threatened.

corn snake

Non-venomous and slender, corn snakes can grow to anywhere from 2 to 6 feet in length. What makes them nice companions is that they can be “gentle and docile with some handling,” according to Feusse.

California Kingsnake

Kingsnakes can be quite outgoing, according to Feusse. And if they’re scared, Feusse said, they’ll “curl up their tails and shake like rattlesnakes.”

The markings on their bodies can be all sorts of patterns and colors, and they can often be identified by the light bands on their darker bodies.

Ball Python

According to Feusse, ball pythons make great pets because they “can be very docile if handled consistently.”

And if these non-venomous snakes get scared, they won’t try to bite you. Instead, they curl up into a ball, which is how they got their name.

milk snake

A milk snake is a type of kingsnake that has a banded appearance, meaning it has brightly colored bands along its body.

Milk snakes can grow up to nearly 7 feet long, but can also grow as short as 14 inches. And according to Feusse, milk snakes will warm to you with a little handling.

Hognose Snake

Hognose snakes are fairly easy to spot because they have upturned noses that help them burrow. They can grow to be just over 5 to 6 feet long. These snakes tend to play dead when threatened.

According to Feusse, the western hognose snake isn’t venomous — but you should know that its saliva could be a little irritating if you come into contact with it.

What you need to take care of a pet snake

There are a few things you need to take care of a pet snake:

“If you buy your snake’s enclosure for its adult size, you can usually maintain it throughout its life,” Feusse said. “But substrate, bulbs and decor need to be changed regularly.”

How to find the best pet snake

If you’re looking to add a pet snake to your family, adoption or rescue is the best way to do it. Petfinder makes it easy to find snakes near you that you can adopt. There are also many reptile rescue organizations you can contact.

So snakes can make great pets as long as you are prepared and committed to taking proper care of them. (And remember – adoption is the best option!)

Do you want 24/7 access to a veterinarian? With DodoVet, you can connect via video chat, phone, or SMS with an empathetic veterinary expert who can help you be the best pet parent you can be. Say goodbye to Dr. Google and get answers to all your pet parenting questions anytime, anywhere. Learn more here.

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