What is the best snake breed to have as a first-time pet snake owner? Pet snakes are becoming more and more popular in the UK and for good reasons. Pet snakes may not be for everyone but if you are interested in keeping one, ensure that you have equipped yourself with the knowledge on how to care for snakes. Here is a list of some pet snake breeds that are suitable for beginner snake enthusiasts.
1. Corn Snake (Elaphe guttata)
Lifespan: 20 years or more in captivity
Length: It can grow between 4 and 5.5 feet long
Corn snakes remain popular amongst snake enthusiasts. These snakes have been kept as domestic pets for a long time because of their calm temperament. As such, it is unsurprising that corn snake breeding was engineered to be docile. If the breeder encounters a snake that bites and causes trouble during handling, the said snake will be opt-out of the gene pool. These are one of the most docile species of snake and they are non-venomous.
Furthermore, their appearance is also different from wild snakes. The following are some of its beautiful morphs:
- Albino Corn Snake
It is also recognised as a melanistic due to the lack of melanin or black pigment. Albino corn snake appears bright red, orange white, and yellow. Their eyes have the colour of red, pink, or orange.
- Black Corn Snake
This morph is categorised as anerythristic corn snakes, which explains the absence of the pigment erythrin which is responsible for red and yellow colour production. That being said, these snakes appear mostly in grey and black.
- Lavender Corn Snake
This morph is the result of the outcross between a snow corn snake and a wild-caught female. These snakes appear in dark grey to bright pastel lavender colour.
- Snow Corn Snake
This is another variety of the melanistic snake, which appears in pink and yellow. It has pink eye colour and darker pink pupils.
2. Ball Python or Royal Python (Python regius)
Lifespan: 30 years or more in captivity
Length: It can grow to 3 to 5 feet in length
The breed is called ball python as it is quick to curl itself into a tight-coiled ball position with the head protected within the coils when it feels threatened or afraid. It is also referred to as royal pythons because this is particularly the snake species that Cleopatra used to wear around her wrists.
Despite their bigger girth, they do not require an overly large enclosure. This is because this breed is sedentary. Years and years of breeding resulted in various patterns and colour variations. The following are some of its beautiful morphs:
- Albino Ball Python
As it lacks dark pigments, it appears in bright white and yellow with red/pink eyes.
- Blue-Eyed Leucistic Ball Python
This snake is a rare beauty in the pet industry. It appears in a solid white colour with piercing blue eyes.
- Cinnamon Ball Python
This snake appears in dark brown colour with dark markings on its body.
- Ghost Ball Python
It appears in the same colour and pattern as the others but the colours appear hazy. This is due to the reduced black pigmentation.
3. California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae)
Lifespan: 20 years or more in captivity Length: It can grow to 3 to 4 feet in length
Out of all the species under the kingsnakes, the California kingsnake is relatively small. This breed is common in the pet world as well as in the wild. As such, it is best to purchase one from a reputable breeder or pet shops to ensure its breeding ancestry. Remember not to house two juvenile California kingsnake in one enclosure as they are likely to try to eat each other. It is advisable to wait until they reach their adult size and watch them closely upon introduction to ensure nonaggressive behaviour.
The California kingsnake is recognised for their black and white stripes and wide array of colourations around its body. The following are some of its beautiful morphs:
- Albino California Kingsnake
Like any albino snakes, this snake lacks melanin pigmentation resulting in a pink colour. As it ages, the albino snake may turn its pink scales into white.
- Chocolate California Kingsnake
The opposite of albinism is called melanism, which is observed in the Chocolate California Kingsnake. This snake is covered in deep brown colour.
- Black and White Striped California Kingsnake
The description of this variety is accurately described in its name. There is no visible yellow or brown present on its markings.
4. Garter Snake (Thamnophis sp.)
Lifespan: 4–5 years or twice the years when kept in captivity
Length: It can grow to 2 to 3 feet in length
Garter snakes are relatively smaller than the rest of the breeds mentioned. Being one of the most docile pet snakes, Garter snakes are easy to handle. This snake is also a great escape artist and is adventurous and inquisitive. They would rather be out exploring than being kept in an enclosure.
Garter snakes are often seen with black and yellow line marks on their sides. There are also pure black or albino garter snakes sighted.
Which snake breed are you eyeing? Snakes as pets are relatively easy to handle and take care of. Just be sure to get one from responsible snake breeders that only sell captive-bred snakes. Wild snakes are likely to be stressed in captivity