24 Types of Pet Snakes (Pictures, Sizes, Facts)

The pet reptile industry is booming right now, and getting a pet snake is a great way to join the action. There are over 3,000 species of snakes in the world, and they’re found on all continents except Antarctica. However, only certain species of snakes are captively bred and common in the pet industry. In this article we’ll look at some of the most common types of pet snakes, as well as some that are a bit more rare as pets.

Let’s have a look!

24 types of pet snakes

The below list is of 24 types of snakes that are captively bred and sold as pets. Starting with a couple of the most common pet snakes that I’ve owned myself, ball pythons and corn snakes.

1. Corn snake

Captive lifespan: 15-20 years
Adult length: 4-6 feet

The corn snake has become one of the most popular beginner pet snakes in the United States. Corn snakes are actually a species of rat snake that are found primarily in the southeastern and central areas of the U.S.

Being that the corn snake is one of the most popular pet reptiles there are, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a breeder or a pet shop selling one. They’re docile animals and are typically ok with being handled. In the wild corn snakes eat birds, frogs, lizards, and other rodents. Feed baby corn snakes pinkie mice and adult corn snakes mice in captivity.

2. Ball python

Captive lifespan: 20-30 years
Adult length: 2-5 feet

Another one of the most popular pet snakes there are is the ball python. I have owned both of these species, as well as the next one. Ball pythons are really cool snakes, and only get a few feet long as an adult. So you don’t have to worry about 12 foot snake one day taking over your house.

Ball pythons are very calm snakes and are great pets. Also known as royal pythons, ball pythons originate from an area in Central Africa. Now they are so prevalent in the pet trade that they are captively bred all over the world. They eat mice in captivity and will readily eat any food offered to them.

3. California kingsnake

Captive lifespan: 10-15 years
Adult length: 3-6 feet

Kingsnakes are relatively easy to care for and are among my favorite types of pet snakes. Their markings are unmistakable and quite beautiful. I had a brief stint as the owner of a california kingsnake, but unfortunately it escaped soon after I got it and was never seen again. The kingsnakes primary food source is other snakes, even venomous ones. Though kingsnakes will also eat rodents, reptiles and amphibians, and birds.

As the name suggests, the california kingsnake is primarily found in California. However they’re also common in some surrounding western states like Nevada, also Baja, and Northern Mexico. The eastern kingsnake is another common kingsnake found in the U.S., they look similar to their californian cousin in appearance.

4. Rosy boa

Captive lifespan: 20-30+ years
Adult length: 2-3 feet

The rosy boa is a small boa constrictor that is found mainly in southern California, Baja California, western Arizona, and Northern Mexico. Rosy boas are also 1 of only 2 species of boas found in the United States. In the wild they prefer the desert climates of the southwestern regions of the United States.

Rosy boas actually make really good pet snakes. They are very small, even as adults, and are typically very slow-moving and gentle snakes. These boas als eat well and are fine with being handled. If you want a boa that’s going to get a bit bigger as an adult, check out the next type of pet snake.

5. Red-tailed boa

Captive lifespan: 20-30+ years
Adult length: 8-12+ feet

The red-tailed boa, also referred to as simply a boa constrictor or common boa, are beautiful snakes and make great pets. Boa constrictors are native to Brazil, and are one of the largest types of pet snakes on this list reaching 10-12 feet in length. They can be fed mice as juveniles, but once they’re fully grown red-tailed boas will eat large rats and even rabbits.

I actually did own a red-tailed boa at one point, it was many years ago and I ended up having to rehome it to a friend. They are different from ball pythons in many ways, but I would recommend either as a first pet snake.

6. Kenyan sand boa

image by tcbphoto via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Captive lifespan: 20+ years
Adult length: 2 feet

The Kenyan sand boa is found in Kenya as well as several other countries like Sudan, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. They are small snakes only reaching about 2 feet in length as adults. Despite the name, Kenyan sand boas do not need to have sand as their substrate, other types will work fine such as aspen bedding.

While they can make a great type of pet snake for many people, they aren’t going to be as docile as some of the others on this list. They may also remain burrowed and hidden much of the time. Either way, Kenyan sand boas are quite pretty.

7. Columbian rainbow boa

Captive lifespan: 20+ years
Adult length: 3-5 feet

The Columbian rainbow boa originates from the humid jungles of northern South America and southern Central America. Not to be confused with its cousin the Brazilian rainbow boa, this snake can make a great pet for an intermediate reptile owner.

They generally have a docile temperament and are ok with being held, once they get older and have been tamed. As far as pet snakes go, they are medium in length often reaching about 5 feet as adult. Like most snakes on this list they’ve been known to live 20 years or more, so owning one is quite the commitment.

8. Carpet python

Captive lifespan: 20-30+ years
Adult length: 6-9+ feet

The carpet python, aka diamond python, and its subspecies are mainly native to parts of Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea. These snakes can get quite large with some females reaching over 9 feet in length.

A carpet python’s coloring and patterns can greatly vary from snake to snake, this makes them very popular in the pet trade. Like other types of pythons, carpet pythons can make great pets. They can also not be a great fit for someone that isn’t prepared for the extra work that goes into keeping a snake like this.

9. Rat snake

Captive lifespan: 30+ years
Adult length: 4-8 feet

The first snake on this list was a corn snake, and I mentioned that it was in fact a type of rat snake. So it stands to reason that a black rat snake, or any type of rat snake for that matter, would also make a great pet snake. They can actually get quite large reaching 8 feet or more and living up to 30 years.

I’ve never owned a rat snake so maybe I’m biased, but I think that a ball python or a boa would make a better first pet snake that a rat snake. Having said that, their coloring and markings are quite pretty from corn snakes to black rat snakes to Texas rat snakes.

10. Children’s python

This is actually a spotted python, which is closely related to the children’s python.

Captive lifespan: 20-30 years
Adult length: 3-4 feet

The children’s python, aka Antaresia childreni, actually gets its name from John George Children, the man who discovered the species in 1842. So the name has nothing to do with actual children. These snakes do actually make great pets for potential snake owners for a number of reasons though, including their docile nature and manageable size.

Children’s pythons are a nocturnal species of snake that occurs natively in northern Australia. They’re reddish-brown in color and only reach about 3 feet in length. Like other types of pythons this size, children’s pythons feed on birds, reptiles, amphibians, and rodents in the wild. In captivity a strict diet of mice and rats is fine.

11. Milk snake

Captive lifespan: 15-20 years
Adult length: 2-3 feet

Milk snakes have some of the most vibrant and beautiful coloring and patterns of any snakes in the world. It’s not just for showing off though, it gives potential predators the impression that they are in fact coral snakes, which are highly venomous and deadly. Most would-be attackers will not even take the chance.

There are 24-25 species of milk snakes found throughout Canada, the U.S., Central America, and South America. They are all non-venomous and many are popular as pets because of their calm demeanor pretty colors. Milk snakes make great beginner pet snakes.

12. Gopher snake

California gopher snake by USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

Captive lifespan: 15-30+ years
Adult length: 4-8+ feet

This non-venomous North American snake is found throughout North America, in the U.S. mostly in the western states. Gopher snakes are unfortunately many times mistaken for rattlesnakes, and killed for this reason. While you should never keep one you catch in the wild, gopher snakes can make wonderful pets.

They’re fairly low-maintenance in terms of snakes since they are native to where many of us live. While the gopher snake does feed on a variety of small animals, gophers are among their main food source, which is where they got the name gopher snake.

13. Bullsnake

image by Mike Lewinski via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Captive lifespan: 30+ years
Adult length: 5-7 feet

The bullsnake, a subspecies of the gopher snake, is very similar to its cousin in many ways. Honestly I’m not quite sure of the relationship between the species, some are saying they are the exact same snake but some people call them by different names. Other sources say that a bullsnake is a sub-species of gopher snake and has a different scientific name. REad more about the difference between the 2 snakes here.

Either way, there’s no contesting that they are both very similar. My friend had a bullsnake when we were younger, and it was sold to him as a “bullsnake” and not a gopher snake if that tells you anything. They can make good pets, but I do remember his being very active and always trying to escape. A beautiful snake nonetheless.

14. Western hognose snake

image by USFWS Midwest Region via Flickr

Captive lifespan: 15-20 years
Adult length: 1.5-3 feet

Hognose snakes are found in the eastern half of the United States. While they can make good pets, they are probably more suited to intermediate reptile owners as they can be difficult to feed. Aside from that, they are very small snakes, even as adults and are quite unique.

After looking at one, it’s easy to tell where they get the name “hognose snake”. They have an upturned snout that makes them quite unique. The eastern hognose snake also goes by the name “puff adder”. They got the nickname from the aggressive display when they are threatened. Western hognose snakes are considered mildly venomous, their bites do contain enough venom to subdue their prey. However they are harmless to humans.

15. African house snake

image by Erik Paterson via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Captive lifespan: 15-20 years
Adult length: 2-4 feet

While not as common as ball pythons, African house snakes are common in the pet trade and can make great pets for the right owners. African house snakes are slender, usually solid brown in color, light or darker, and may have a stripe.

Males are generally 2-3 feet in length, though females may reach 4 feet or longer. African house snakes are found in a variety of habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, primarily the southern regions of the continent.

16. Rough green snake

image by Patrick Feller via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Captive lifespan: 8-15 years
Adult length: 22-32 inches

The rough green snake is found all throughout parts of eastern and southeastern United States, and they are also commonly sold as pets. Unfortunately these small snakes often do not do well in captivity because they are collected from the wild and sold directly into the pet trade. They can get too stressed out and not make the transition from the wild to captivity.

If you come across one that was captively bred and healthy, you may consider it as a pet. As the smallest pet snake on this list, it is certainly an option. Having said that, I recommend choosing another snake on this list if you’re looking for a smaller snake.

17. Brazilian rainbow boa

Captive lifespan: 20-25 years
Adult length: 4-6 feet

Brazilian rainbow boas originate from Central and South America near the Amazon River basin, coastal Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname and southern Venezuela. These beautiful snakes are beloved by pet snake owners for many reasons. A few of those reasons being their unique colors, patterns, and iridescent skin.

Brazilian rainbow boas do very well in captivity, assuming all of their needs are being met. However they can be a bit on the expensive side for some people, in which case a less “exotic” species of snake may be better for some. In my opinion this snake is one of the coolest looking types of pet snakes on this list.

18. Woma python

image by Mark Gillow via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Captive lifespan: 15-20+ years
Adult length: 4-6 feet

I’m honestly not too familiar with the woma python, but they are often kept as pets. Woma pythons are from Australia where they are commonly known as the Ramsay’s python, sand python, or a woma. They’re known for being on the gentle and calm side for pythons, and can make good pets.

Unlike other pythons, womas have a narrow head and small eyes. An interesting fact about woma pythons is that in the wild they use their narrow, pointy tail as a lure to bring in potential meals like reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and birds. Woma pythons are immune to snake venom and will often feed on venomous snakes in the wild.

19. Burmese python

Captive lifespan: 20-30 years
Adult length: 12-20 feet

Burmese pythons will always have a special place in my heart, they are truly amazing animals. I had a burmese python for many years, and really enjoyed having it. Just don’t forget what you are getting yourself into if you are considering getting one. The reason South Florida has hundreds of thousands of burmese pythons in the wild is because of unprepared pet owners. The snakes were released into the wild when they go too big where they thrived and reproduced at an alarming rate in South Florida’s tropical climate. .

In the wild burmese pythons are native to various parts of Asia, from eastern India through Vietnam and southern China. They are not found in extreme southern Thailand, Myanmar or Western Malaysia, but occur on the islands of Java, Bali, Sumbawa and a small part of Sulawesi.

20. Emerald tree boa

image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Captive lifespan: 20-25 years
Adult length: 4-8+ feet

Emerald tree boas are on the high-maintenance end of pet snakes and can even be quite difficult to care for unless you are a more experienced snake owner. Having said that, these snakes are among the most beautiful snakes that can be owned as pets in the world.

I remember going into my local exotic pet shop as a kid, and witnessing a customer purchasing one of these. It was the tiniest thing, but the coloring and patterns were unmistakable. As a 13-14 year old I thought it was the most amazing pet snake a young boy could hope for. Looking back, I now know that I would have been in over my head with an exotic species like this.

21. Green tree python

Captive lifespan: 15-20 years
Adult length: 4-6 feet

You may have noticed that the green tree python looks strikingly similar to the emerald tree boa… but they are 2 different snakes. They are similar in several ways though. One of those ways being that they are exotic species that are better for advanced snake owners.

Green tree pythons also have a bit of a reputation for being aggressive, so maybe not the best snakes for regular handling. Also like the tree boa, the green tree python is arboreal, meaning it spends its life in the treetops. This fact will come into play when you choose their habitat, since they like to climb vertically.

22. Blood python

image by Tambako The Jaguar via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Captive lifespan: 25-30 years
Adult length: 4-6 feet

Named for their blood-red color, blood pythons are also known as Brongersma’s short-tailed python. Though they can be a bit hissy and bitey in captivity, with proper socialization and care they can also make great pets.

Blood pythons are native to the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and some of the nearby islands. In the wild, blood pythons love the water. They spend most of their time waiting to ambush their next meal in an around water.

23. Garter snake

Captive lifespan: 10 years
Adult length: 1.5-3 feet

The garter snake is one of the most common species of wild snakes in the U.S. for sure. I saw one yesterday in my backyard actually. Garter snakes are also captive bred and sold as pets. I’ve never kept one as a pet myself, because it doesn’t really make sense to when I can own a much more interesting species. Just my opinion though.

Garter snakes are opportunistic eaters and will feed on any reptile, amphibian, invertebrate, or critter that will fit in its mouth. In captivity consider feeding a garter snake gut-loaded crickets, earthworms, and pinkies.

24. Ringneck snake

image by Shenandoah National Park

Captive lifespan: 20 years
Adult length: 10-15 inches

Last, and smallest, on the list of types of pet snakes is the ringneck snake. Just being honest, ringneck snakes do not make the best pets. They’re known for not breeding well in captivity making it hard to find one for sale. Which means that most in the pet trade are actually caught wild, which would then make owning it illegal. More about that below.

With that in mind, if you are able to find a healthy ringneck snake that was captive bred it could make a good pet for you. Since they’re so small it would be easy to house one and feeding would be a breeze. Even so, I think this is one species I’d personally avoid keeping as a pet.

Wild snake as pets

It may be tempting to catch a wild snake and keep it as a pet in some situations. Keep in mind though, it may be illegal to do this where you live. In most U.S. states it is illegal to take an animal out of its natural environment with the intent of keeping it as a pet.

If you would like to become a pet snake owner, then go through the proper channels and purchase your snake from an established breeder or pet shop.

Robert from ReptileJam

Hey, I'm Robert, and I have a true passion for reptiles that began when I was just 10 years old. My parents bought me my first pet snake as a birthday present, which sparked my interest in learning more about them. read more...