several snakes in a collage

Snakes are one of the most misunderstood animals, but with the proper care and attention, they are fantastic pets for families. Snakes make great family pets for several reasons. For starters, they’re low maintenance pets, requiring only space, water, and food. 

Snakes are fascinating creatures, and they’re perfect family pets. Don’t believe us? Keep reading.

Snakes keep to themselves most of the time, but still have needs like exercise and stimulation. Although many people may be afraid of Snakes, they are actually great pets. Snakes are cold-blooded, which means they need warmth to stay happy. The downside is that they need to be kept in enclosures, and can’t freely roam your home.

They are fascinating animals, but many people fear them, both from actual experiences with Snakes, and from movies that show terrifying Snake attacks. But snakes make great family pets, and they provide plenty of benefits, too. Snakes have long lifespans, and with proper care and attention, can live 20 years or more. 

As cold blooded animals, Snakes don’t sweat, and they don’t need as much room in their enclosure, making them more manageable pets. Snakes shed their skin regularly, so they don’t need to be cleaned the way dogs and cats do. 

Though Snakes aren’t exactly the most popular pet in the United States, they are a great option for families that are interested in an animal that’s easy to care for. They don’t require a ton of space, and because Snakes don’t chew things like mammals, families don’t need to spend money on chew toys.

Snakes are often viewed as scary, scaly animals that should be kept far away from people and homes, but the truth is they’re actually quite friendly, gentle animals that make great family pets. If your family is looking for a new pet, and you’ve never owned a Snake before, hopefully you’ll consider a Snake for your family.

Following is a guide to some of the most popular Snakes breeds and their associated costs and care requirements:

Milk Snakes

a milk snake coiled up in its enclosure

Are you looking for a unique pet that is both beautiful and easy to care for? If so, then the Milk Snake may be the perfect fit for you!

Milk Snakes are a species of non-venomous colubrid snakes native to North and Central America. They are usually found in woodlands and grasslands, or near rural buildings that are home to mice and rats. They are nonvenomous, but can still bite if provoked.

They’re part of the Lampropeltis genus, which includes some of the most popular pet snakes in the world. Milk Snakes are known for their vibrant colors and patterns, which can range from bright reds and oranges to deep blacks and browns.

These snakes are nocturnal and like to spend a lot of their time hiding in the dark. They don’t get very large, making them great pets for first-time snake owners. Because they are so small, they don’t require a lot of space to live comfortably.

Milk Snakes are very docile, and will rarely bite unless they feel threatened. They are also very inquisitive, and will enjoy investigating things around them. They are very intelligent.

Milk Snakes have bright and shiny skin. They can have several different colors and patterns. These are known as the subspecies of Milk Snakes and have their own common names. Some popular examples are Black Milk Snake, Red Milk Snake, Pale Milk Snake, and Eastern Milk Snake. Currently, there are 24 recognized subspecies of the Milk Snakes.

Milk Snakes can be purchased from pet stores, and will cost anywhere between $80 to $200. There are some rare subspecies that can cost as much as $1000!

Milk Snakes are generally docile and can be handled with care. However, they should not be handled too often because this can cause stress. It’s also important to note that Milk Snakes can become aggressive if they feel threatened, so it’s best to handle them with caution.

Overall, Milk Snakes make great family pets for those looking for a unique and beautiful snake that is relatively easy to care for. They are active and curious, and can provide hours of entertainment. If you are looking for a pet that is both beautiful and easy to care for, then the Milk Snake may be the perfect fit for you!

African Ball Pythons

an african ball python curled up on carpet

Are you looking for a new snake that is both beautiful and easy to care for? If so, the African Ball Python may be the perfect choice for you!

The African Ball Python, also known as the Royal Python, is a non-venomous snake native to Africa. It’s one of the most popular snakes kept as family pets due to how docile they are and how easy they are to care for.

The African Ball Python, or Royal Python, originates from the West African grasslands. Their natural habitat includes grasslands as well as scrublands, savannas and open forests. They enjoy the shelter and temperature moderation afforded to them by inhabiting the burrows of rodents. The Ball part of their name comes from their curling themselves into a tight coil, or ball, with their heads hidden inside. African Ball Pythons can grow up to 6 feet long!

They’re considered to be on the smaller side, they’re comfortable with handling. They’re not known to bite and they’re not not venomous. They prefer a simple enclosure that includes a hide box. Ball Pythons have low grooming needs, high heat tolerance, and an average lifespan of 20 to 30 years. Because they’re safe for children, they’re also a good choice for a beginner snake owner.

African Ball Pythons are docile and gentle snakes and aren’t afraid of being handled by their owners. They also don’t get very large and do not normally bite anyone when kept in captivity. All these reasons make them a popular pet snake. 

They originate from West Africa where they spend most of their time on the grasslands. It’s a good idea to give them a living space that closely resembles their natural habitat. Wood and grass bought from the pet store and used in their enclosure. Wild Royal Pythons can live 10 years, but up to 30 years in captivity.

Ball Pythons have a unique characteristic of curling themselves like a ball when they feel threatened or stressed. They will hide their head inside and coil their body tightly. This is how they derive the name “Ball” Python. These snakes are also commonly known as the Royal Python.

In terms of handling, African Ball Pythons are generally quite docile and can be handled with relative ease. It is important to handle them gently and slowly, as they may become stressed or frightened if handled too roughly. When handling your snake, it’s important to support their body weight so that they don’t feel like they’re falling or slipping.

Overall, African Ball Pythons make excellent family pets due to how docile they are and how easy they are to care for.

Western Hognose Snake

a western hognose snake coiled up

Are you looking for a unique pet that will bring lots of joy and entertainment to your home? Western Hognose Snakes may be the perfect fit! These small, non-venomous snakes are native to North America and make great family pets.

Western Hognose Snakes have a distinct look that sets them apart from other snakes. They have a flattened head and an upturned snout, which is how they got their name. They also have a unique pattern of scales that can range from yellow to brown or gray.

Western Hognose Snakes are docile and calm pets. They can have several different colors and patterns. They have a slightly upturned snout which looks somewhat similar to the nose of a hog. This is how they derive their name “hognose.’ Western Hognose Snakes are a subspecies of the Hognose Snakes.

Western Hognose Snakes are a non venomous snake found over a wide range in North America. Their range includes southern Canada, parts of the Central United States – Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico. The Western Hognose Snakes like to stay in flat areas that have loose sand.

These snakes are small and have low maintenance needs, making them great pets for first-time snake owners. They require the same amount of care that most other small snakes need. The only thing that is different is how they sometimes react when they feel threatened. They like to play dead when they feel threatened!  

They are nonvenomous, and are not aggressive towards humans. Western Hognose Snakes are very shy animals, and will usually avoid contact with people.

Western Hognose Snakes are very quiet and calm, and will rarely bite unless provoked. They are very gentle, and will accept almost anyone as a friend. They are also very easy to handle, and will allow you to hold them without fear. 

They are very easy to care for, and also relatively inexpensive, costing around $200. As with any pet, there are types that are rarer and can cost several times more.

Western Hognose Snakes are a great choice for those looking for an interesting pet that is relatively easy to care for. With proper care and attention, they can make wonderful family pets.

In conclusion, Western Hognose Snakes are a great choice for those looking for an interesting pet that is relatively easy to care for. If you’re looking for a unique pet that will bring lots of joy and entertainment to your home, Western Hognose Snakes may be the perfect fit!

Corn Snakes

a corn snake wrapped around a tree branch

Are you looking for a new pet snake? If so, you may want to consider the Corn Snake. Corn Snakes are one of the most popular pet snakes in the world and they make great family pets.

Corn Snakes are small to medium-sized snakes that belong to the Rat Snake family. They can grow up to five feet long and have a lifespan of 15-20 years with proper care.

Corn Snakes come in a variety of colors and patterns, including red, orange, yellow, black, white, and gray. They have a distinctive pattern of black spots on their backs that resemble corn kernels. This is where they get their name from.

Corn Snakes are one of the most popular snake breeds. They have calm demeanor and don’t need a lot of care, making them great pets. They don’t get very large which makes it easy for them to be kept as pets for first-time snake owners as well.

Corn Snakes are small to medium length snakes that can be a number of different colors. They are native to the east coast and in the southeastern part of North America but most are found in Florida. 

In the wild Corn Snakes are very fast moving animals, and will move quickly through their habitat. They are also very territorial, and will defend their home against intruders. They are not venomous, and are harmless to humans, but may still bite if they feel threatened.

Corn Snakes are very easy to care for, and will require little maintenance. They are also easy to handle, and will allow you to hold them without fear. They are also very calm, and will not bite unless provoked.

In the wild, these snakes have a life span of 6 to 8 years but in captivity, they can live up to 20 years. Corn Snakes are also sometimes called red rat snakes because they closely resemble the rat snakes.

Corn Snakes are non-venomous and docile snakes that make great pets for beginners. They are easy to handle and are not aggressive. They also don’t need a lot of space, so they can be kept in smaller enclosures.

Overall, Corn Snakes make great pets for those looking for a low-maintenance reptile. They are easy to care for and can provide years of companionship. If you’re looking for a new snake, consider a Corn Snake!

Garter Snakes

a close up of a garter snake's head

Garter Snakes are a popular choice for family pets, and for good reason! These small, non-venomous snakes are easy to care for and make great pets. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, making them an attractive addition to any home.

Garter Snakes are native to North America and can be found in many different habitats. They prefer moist environments, such as near streams, ponds, and marshes. They are active during the day and spend most of their time hunting for food. Some species of these snakes tend to go into hibernation in the cold and come out only during the spring and summer.

Garter Snakes can make great pets for those who are new to reptile ownership. They are relatively small, reaching an average length of two to three feet, and they don’t require a large enclosure or a lot of special care. In fact , they can be kept in a simple 10-gallon aquarium with a secure lid.

The Garter Snakes skin can have several colors and patterns. Currently, there are more than 75 recognized breeds of Garter Snakes. These snakes have an average lifespan of up to 5 years in the wild but can live up to 10 years in captivity.

Garter Snakes are very easy to care for and maintain. They are very clean, and will shed their skin once every three or four months. They are also very attractive, and will look great in a terrarium. Garter snakes are very docile, and are unlikely to bite anyone unless provoked. 

Garter Snakes are a very popular pet snake, and many new snake keepers will start with them as their first snake. They are very easy-going, and will adapt to any environment. They are also very easy to take care of, and will thrive in a home setting.

Garter Snakes make great pets for beginners, and will provide hours of entertainment for children.

Garter Snakes are social creatures and can be kept in groups if they are provided with enough space. It is important to remember that these snakes should not be handled too often, as this can cause stress.

Overall, Garter Snakes make great pets for those who are looking for an easy-to-care-for snake. They’re active, social creatures that can give your family countless hours of entertainment and companionship. With the right care, they can live for up to 10 years!

Snake Breeds that Make Good Pets

Snake TypeLengthCharacteristicCostLifespan
Garter snake2 – 3 feetThe snake is docile and doesn’t mind  handling$25 – $508 – 10 years
African Ball Pythons2 – 5 feetCalm and often coils to hide their heads when frightened$30 – $5025 – 30 years
Western Hognose Snake1 – 3 feetEasy to handle because they rarely bite. However, they engage in bluffing$100 – $5008 – 10 years
Milk Snakes1 – 5 feetCalm snakes but can bite if frightened.$50 – $10015 – 20 years
Corn Snakes2 – 5 feetDocile, hardy, and disease resistant.$25 – $4015 – 20 years

As a beginner with snakes, consider the temperament of your new pet and what you’re looking for. You should also be ready to live with your new snake for a very long time because snakes live for many years. Some snakes live 20 to 30 years.

Cost of Buying a Snake

Buying new equipment for a pet snake can be daunting. You might be a beginner and don’t know where to start or what to buy. The good news is in this section we’ve created a checklist for everything you may need for a new snake.

Snake cage/terrarium/tank$50 – $400
Lighting equipment$15 – $60
Heating equipment$15 – $50
Substrate (bedding)$20 – $30
Bowls$20 – $100
Reptile humidifier$10 – $50
Snake hides (things for snakes to hide in)$15 – $25
Snake food$50 – $200 yearly
Veterinary fees$100 – $125 yearly

It’s important to consider the cost of owning a snake. You can buy a snake from a breeder or snake auctions. Did you know that you can get a healthy snake from auctions at a fraction of the cost breeders charge?

Snakes are easy to maintain and feed, unlike other pets. Snakes rarely become ill, and you should expect fewer visits to the veterinarian.

What’s the Best Habitat for a Pet Snake?

a snake hiding on the branches

Unlike other pets, snakes require certain conditions for them to thrive in their habitats, especially because they are cold-blooded. Here is a guideline on what conditions your pet needs to have their best life.


Snakes need temperatures of about 80 to 85 degrees fahrenheit during daytime and about 75 degrees fahrenheit at night. During the day many snakes like to lay out in the sun where it’s warm to raise their body temperature.  They should have a basking light that can raise the temperature in your snake’s enclosure to about 90 degrees fahrenheit. Because snakes are cold blooded, the body of a snake adjusts to its environment and they need both warm and hot temperatures to survive.  If the temperature is not high enough they will have a difficult time digesting their meals, and can have other adverse health effects.

Ultraviolet light

Some snake species require UV light to help them make vitamin D. Most snakes such as the African Python, the Corn snake, and the Milk snakes don’t require UV light. Giving your snakes UV light helps prevent some diseases and also gives them a healthier-looking skin.


Your snakes need the right level of humidity. Humidity helps your snake while they’re shedding their skin. It also helps keep their current scales from drying out especially in the winter. Having a humidifier in your snake’s cage is a no brainer.

a humidifier blowing out water into the air

How to Choose a Snake Terrarium

Snakes love exploring their habitat, and their terrarium should remain safe and without any holes for them to escape. If they do escape you could spend quite a while trying to figure out exactly how small of a space your snake can hide in.

Terrariums exist in different shapes, sizes, and designs. Whether you choose one with a screen lid or an enclosed one, ensure the cage is sturdy and safe.

When buying a snake tank, consider how long your snake will be as an adult. You’ll want a terrarium that gives your pet enough space to move around, not only now, but in the future.

Regulating Temperature

Because snakes cannot regulate their body temperature, they need to have different temperature conditions available in their cage. The temperature variant lets them adjust their body temperature by moving to a different part of their cage. 

Some pet owners use under tank heating methods while others use lamps. Based on how you set up their cage you can create a hot exposed place with a lamp, and a slightly cooler place where it can hide as it sleeps.

The lamp method of heating is the easiest for beginners. If it ever breaks or the bulb stops working, lamps are easy to replace. They’re also not very expensive, and you’ll know it’s not working if it’s off. 

If you decide to use an under tank heating method, then you’ll want to connect it to a rheostat. A rheostat helps pet owners adjust temperatures by controlling the electricity output. The currents from an electric connection are hotter than what a snake can handle, and a rheostat will help you lower it to a level they will enjoy.  A rheostat is like a dimmer that you can use to reduce the heat for your heat mat, giving you better control of the heat output.

Snake Hides

a king snake coiled up and laying in the sun

Snakes love hiding whenever they get scared or as a way of cooling their bodies. Snakes in the wild often hide under tree leaves, hollow logs, or tunnels. As you prepare the habitat for your pet, think about different places you could add a hiding place for them.

Luckily for you, snake hides are cheap in pet stores, or you can find some materials in your home and convert them into a hiding place for your snake.

If you don’t give your snake a hiding place, they will be a lot more stressed than they should be. This can lead to illnesses or have them refusing to eat.


Substrate material refers to what lines the bottom of your snake tank.  Different materials make good substrates. If your snake needs humid conditions, cypress mulch makes a good choice. If your pet needs drier conditions, dry wood shavings could be what you need. Some substrates are also made of smooth paper that only needs cleaning once in a while.

Whatever material you choose, do some research to ensure it’s the best for your snake. You’ll need to change the substrate material regularly whenever they get dirty.

Food Preferences for Snakes

Snakes eat meat and nothing else. Here is a table of some snakes and what they eat.

SnakeFood preference
Corn SnakeRodents, lizards, eggs, birds, frogs
Garter SnakeFrogs, slugs, earthworms, rodents, fish
African Ball PythonRodents
Milk SnakeSlugs, crickets, birds, bird eggs, lizards, fish, small snakes, small mammals
Western Hognose SnakeRodents, lizards, frogs, eggs

Some snakes are okay eating dead mice but a lot of other snakes prefer feeding on living ones. Many pet stores sell living and frozen mice specifically for feeding snakes. Before feeding your snake, always let the mice warm to room temperature to keep your snake from becoming ill.

a mouse next to a coiled snake

Snakes have flexible jaws and are capable of feasting on an animal bigger than their head. It’s also worth noting that snakes feed by swallowing their food whole.

Snakes don’t eat regularly. One good meal could last them several days, or even a week. The more time you spend with your snake, you’ll get to know how often your pet likes to eat and feed them whenever they want to eat.

It’s possible to determine whether your snake is hungry depending on how they react when you give them food.  If they appear aggressive it is a good sign that they are quite hungry and you should feed them more often.

Aggression in Snakes

Defense and aggression in snakes aren’t easily distinguished. Pet snakes are generally docile and only defend themselves whenever they feel threatened. In most cases, snake owners take defense for aggressiveness.

Snakes can act differently and are probably aggressive for several reasons. Here are some things that could easily agitate your pet.

Possible Causes of Aggressive Behavior in Snakes

Discomfort During Shedding

Young snakes shed their skins every few weeks, while adult snakes only shed a few times each year. During shedding, your snake’s eyes will get cloudy and turn bluish or white, making them effectively blind. Your snake feels vulnerable because they can’t see approaching objects and may attack in defense. HTheir eyesight returns to normal as soon as shedding is complete.

Improper Handling

a close up of a snakes head

Snakes aren’t used to human contact and if improperly handled, snakes can attack. You should handle your snake for about ten minutes everyday to get them accustomed to human touch.

When handling your pet, you should do it the same each time so that the snake gets accustomed to touch in a particular way.


Your favorite pet can attack you when you open their tank. If you let your snake go for too long without food, your snake can attack your hand, thinking it’s food.


A sick snake can act agitated and may hurt their owner. You should check for signs of illness in your pet and take them to your veterinarian for monitoring if anything appears strange.

Poor Living Conditions

If your snake doesn’t have the proper living conditions such as heat, light, and hiding areas, they will get stressed over time. The stress could make your snake attack whoever comes close to it.

Signs of an Aggressive Pet Snake

  • Hissing loudly
  • Release of smelly substance common in Garter snakes
  • Raising their head above the ground
  • Hiding for a very long time

General Care for Pet Snakes

Snakes are low maintenance pets that don’t require a lot of attention. Your snake’s skin can be quite delicate, and that requires the right living conditions to remain healthy.

a garter snake coiled up in their enclosure

If you notice that your snake hasn’t shed its skin in a long time, check if the conditions in their habitat are ideal for your particular breed.  You can help your snake shed quickly by putting damp materials inside a box and placing it in their tank. Having several climbing branches and rocks in the terrarium also helps the snake to scratch against them and help with shedding.

Snakes are lovable pets that are docile and don’t need much to be taken care of. This guide gives a good overview for anyone who wants to be a snake owner. We have articles that will go more in depth with specific species of snakes for the most popular snake breeds if you want to learn more.

Basic Facts about Snakes

According to statistics, there are more than 3,000 snake species in the world, but only a few are harmless and ideal to be kept as pets. 

The only continent without snakes is Antarctica.

A snake skin is covered with scales that feel smooth and dry when touched. Snakes shed their skin several times a year, and the process takes several days to complete.

Snakes have strong sensory abilities for heat and vibrations, probably because they mainly slither on the ground.

Did you know that a snake doesn’t have external ears? Don’t let that fool you because the snake can detect movement from a good distance away.

A snake flicks its tongue whenever it wants to taste the air. It can do this for a number of reasons. In the wild it can be while hunting, looking for its next meal, or it can be to identify its owner when its cage is opened. The snake is able to collect the odors on its tongue and has something called a Jacobson’s organ at the top of its mouth which is able to identify the different smells.

Author Profile
A woman with curly hair holding a cat.
Contributing Author & Social Media Expert

Maryna is an animal expert that has had dozens of animals in her life over the years. She has never found an animal that she didn't love immediately. It seems like every year she finds kittens that have been abandoned by their mom and she nurses them to health and finds homes for them. She contributes her vast knowledge about animals and family pets to our website and we're forever grateful to have her working with us. She's also an amazing graphics designer and has designed all of the social media images that we use across all platforms.