20 Best Small Pet Snakes That Stay Small (Beginner Friendly)

Snakes- most people fear them. They are not your cuddly pet that responds to tricks.

Nonetheless, they are one of the most fascinating and beautiful creatures that turn out to be unbelievable pets if given proper care.

And for beginners, while adult snakes can be a little overwhelming, small pet snakes can be a perfect start for you.

So while you look around for answers to guide you, let us help and get you moving.

Below mentioned is the ultimate list of 20 bestsmall snakesfor pets that you can have.

20 Pet Snakes That Stay Small

best small pet snake

Ringneck Snake

One of the smallest snakes in size, they are many people’s first choice for pet snakes.

Size & Weight

Ringneck snakes are cute small snakes that generally grow up to 10-15 inches in length, depending upon the subspecies.

Life Span

The average lifespan of a Ringneck snake in captivity is around 6-7 years.

Diet

Their typical feed consists of earthworms, smaller salamanders, slugs, etc.

They sometimes also eat baby lizards, frogs, and some baby snakes of other species.

Appearance

As the name suggests, these snakes have a unique yellow ring around their neck.

Their backs vary from black to grey and brown in color, while their stomachs range from bright red to yellow and orange.

Rosy Boa

The Rosy Boa is another small snake breed that is kept by many people as pets.

Size & Weight

They usually grow up to 17-35 inches in length and weigh close to 400g.

Life Span

The average lifespan of a Rosy Boa is 25 years plus.

Diet

Rosy Boas are good eaters and do well on reptile feeds like domesticated mice, rats, etc.

Appearance

They are small non-venomous snakes with a short tail and a distinctive head.

Since they have a lot of sub-species, their colors vary.

The name ‘Rosy Boa’ comes from the pink salmon belly, which is usually found on these reptiles.

However, not all subspecies have the same color; some also have a light background with dark orange spots.

California Kingsnake

The California Kingsnake is one of the 45 Kingsnake species recognized by man.

This is another famous pet snake among snake owners due to its small size and quick adjustability in captivity.

Size & Weight

The average size of California Kingsnake is 3-4 feet in length.

They are not heavy or bulky in weight, and because of this, they actually appear smaller than they are.

Life Span

The average lifespan of a California Kingsnakes is often more than 20 years.

Diet

This snake’s diet primarily includes well-thawed reptile food like mice and rats.

Appearance

The California Kingsnake has a head that is slightly wider than its neck.

There are found in a varietyof colors depending upon their subspecies, but the most common ones are alternating bands between white and yellow or black and brown.

Garter Snake

Garter snakes make an excellent pet because they are very active and alert and pose no threat to even children handling them.

garter snakes for pet

Size & Weight

The smallest subspecies grow around 18-20 inches in size, whereas the larger ones can grow up to 50 inches in length.

Their weight differs accordingly, but they rarely weight more than 150-160 grams.

Life Span

The average life span of Garter snakes in captivity is ten years.

Diet

Their diet includes defrosted mice and rats, defrosted freshwater fishes, and a combination of small earthworms.

Appearance

Garter snakes are comparatively quite simple and kind of plain.

They usually have three yellow, blue, and white stripes across the lengths of their olive or brown bodies.

Western Hognose

Western Hognose has a unique nose (hognose), which makes them a popular choice among pet owners.

Size & Weight

Males grow to a length of 15-25 inches, whereas females are longer with the average size of 36 inches.

Their average weight is 800 grams.

Life Span

Western Hognose may live up to an average age of 18 years in captivity.

Diet

They do exceptionally well on a frozen/thawed mice diet.

Many pet owners prefer this because they are more comfortable for the snakes to digest.

Appearance

They are small and stout-bodied snake specie.

Their color and pattern differ according to the subspecies, but they look like rattlesnakes to the untrained eye.

Rough Green Snake

Rough Green snakes are tiny and slender snakes that look like a whip.

Size & Weight

The average size of most males is 35 inches, and a female snake is 37 inches.

An average male weighs around 16g, whereas the female is approx. 26g in weight.

Life Span

The Rough Green Snake can live up to 15 years if cared properly.

Diet

Their diet primarily includes insects such as crickets, grasshoppers; they also eat snails, spiders, and small frogs.

Appearance

They are slender reptiles with long tails.

They have an unvarying pea-green color on their backs and a yellow/yellow-green or even white color on their bellies and throat.

Smooth Green snake

Just like its rough cousin, smooth green snakes are almost alike except that they are smoother and a little shorter.

Size & Weight

The average size of most males is 35 inches, and a female snake is 37 inches.

An average male weighs around 16g, and the female about 26g.

Life Span

The Smooth Green Snake can live up to 15 years in captivity.

Diet

Their diet fundamentally includes insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, snails, spiders, and small frogs.

Appearance

They have smooth dorsal scales, unlike the rough green snakes, whose scales are keeled.

Smooth Green snakes are comparatively a foot shorter than the rough ones.

Sand Boa

The Sand Boa, aka the Kenyan Sand Boa, is gaining popularity due to their relaxed temperament. 

Size & Weight

Males are usually 15-18 inches in length, whereas the females can grow up to 25 inches.

While males weight around just 150g, female Sand Boas are quite stocky and can weigh as much as 1kg.

Life Span

 They can live up to an average age of 15 years.

Diet

These boas don’t need much water since they are desert dwellers.

Their typical feed consists of thawed/frozen rodents.

Appearance

They have small eyes and a blunt head.

Their tail is short and cannot be coiled.

They have a white/cream color belly with darkish brown splotches on the back.

Ribbon Snake

These ribbon-like non-poisonous snakes come in a lot of sizes but are usually petite and therefore make a good pet snake.

Size & Weight

They vary from 15-35 inches in length, with an average weight of 100g.

Life Span

Their average lifespan in captivity is 10-11 years.

Diet

Their feed usually consists of baby frogs, fishes, salamanders, and their larvae.

Appearance

Ribbon snakes are called so for two reasons. First, they have long, clear strips along their back.

Second, they have a skinny and very long tail, which makes them look like a ribbon.

These snakes have a dark brown/black skin color along with tan/yellow stripes.

Their undersides are usually light brown in color.

African Egg-Eating Snake

This is one of the most exciting species kept as a pet, and you’ll find out why

Size & Weight

These snakes are 45-75cm in length and weigh up to 300g.

Life Span

The average life span of this specie is only five years.

Diet

Now coming to the exciting part, this snake only and only eats eggs.

Their jaws open much more extensive than other snakes,’ and they don’t have any discernible teeth, which helps them to swallow these eggs easily.

Instead, they have spurs along their spine, which helps them to crack the eggs after they swallow.

Since these snakes are quite small, they can’t eat chicken eggs.

Their feed usually consists of canary, quail, and other smaller birds’ eggs.

Appearance

They are dark brown-gray in color and have brown stripes across their backs with a lighter gray underbelly.

Corn Snakes

corn snakes for pet

This is one of the most common species as a pet snake, especially among beginners.

Size & Weight

On average, these snakes vary from anywhere between 2-6 ft. in length.

Females tend to be longer than males.

A Corn snake weighs approximately 900g.

Life Span

The average lifespan of a Corn snake in captivity is 15 years.

However, they can live up to 20 years as well.

Diet

They need a rodent based feed usually thawed or frozen.

Some baby Corns also eat lizards and small frogs.

Appearance

Corn snakes are customarily orange/darkish yellow with orange eyes.

They have red stripes and blotches on the lateral side and the back of their body.

Their belly is covered generally with white and black markings.

Ball Pythons

ball python as pet snakes

Ball Pythons are one of the most loved pet snakes because of their shy demeanor and the numerous morphs they are available in.

Size & Weight

Ball Pythons reach 3-6 feet in length when fully grown.

The females are usually longer and have more massive bodies than males.

Life Span

They live as long as 30 years in captivity if taken good care.

Diet

Their diet includes thawed frozen and appropriately sized rodents.

Appearance

Ball Pythons have a flat head with a boxy snout, and they have strong jaw muscles.

They have a darkish brown body with tan-golden marking along their back.

And like I mentioned above, they are available in a lot of different colors and patterns (morphs)

Anthill Python

The Anthill Python, aka Pygmy Python, is the smallest specie of the Python family and is usually found on termite mounds and yes, anthills.

Size & Weight

These Pythons grow only 50cm in length.

However, they are heavy-bodied and usually weight a lot more than an average snake of that size.

They weight close to 200-220g when fully grown.

Life Span

They live a long life in captivity, sometimes well above 20 years.

Diet

They have a fundamental requirement of a rodent based diet.

Appearance

This snake is not very colorful and has a monotonous pattern across its body.

They have spots like a leopard along the length of its body.

These spots are quite light and merge with its brown-red background skin color.

Scarlet Kingsnake

They are one of the most popular varieties of Kingsnake because of their unusual features and attractive colors.

They are mainly known for their ‘mimicry’ feature, where they dupe other animals (Coral Venomous snake) to avoid predators.

Size & Weight

They grow anywhere between 40-50cm in length and weigh around 50-60g

Life Span

They tend to live 10-15 years in captivity.

Diet

Scarlet Kingsnake feeds principally on lizards’ esp. skinks.

Sometimes they also eat small snakes and rodents like mice and rats.

Appearance

The Scarlet Kingsnake has yellow, black and red stripes along its back that makes it look like a Coral Venomous Snake.

Bimini Blind snake

The Bimini Blind snake, aka Brahminy Blind snakes, is one of the smallest known species of snakes and are often mistaken as earthworms.

Size & Weight

The adults grow between 2-4 inches in length and weight as light as 1g.

Life Span

They can live for a couple of months to up to a year.

Diet

In captivity, their diet mostly includes ants and termites or their larvae since they are readily available and of appropriate size.

Appearance

Adult snakes are thin and small and have a shiny charcoal gray, purple, or silver-gray body.

Their tail-tip and head are indistinguishable, and their eyes are only dot-like small remnants below their scales. 

In reality, they are not blind! But their eyes are just so small that they look like it.

Milk Snake

Milk snakes are a hot choice as pet snakes because they are well-tempered reptiles that are very pretty to look and are easily manageable.

Size & Weight

The average height of Milk snakes is 36 inches, and they weigh between 1-3 lbs.

Diet

Baby Milk snakes feed on small insects, crickets and earthworms.

Adult snakes’ diet usually includes lizards (esp. skinks) and other mammals.

They are also known to eat fish, frogs, and rodents.

Life Span

Milk snake’s lifespan in captivity is approximately 10-12 years.

Appearance

The Milk snakes have a slender body with brownish-red spotty bands surrounded in a gray or a black on a tan background.

Their belly usually has a white and black checkerboard look.

Children’s Python

Although this is not the most common choice as a pet snake, it still belongs to the list because they are slowly gaining popularity.

Size & Weight

They grow up to 3-5 feet in length and weigh between 250-300g.

Diet

In captivity, they prefer rodent based feed, which is thawed, frozen, and appropriate in size.

Life Span

The lifespan of this particular specie has been known to cross 30 years in captivity.

Appearance

This snake doesn’t offer much distinction and has more of an overlapping and dull pattern.

It has a tan background skin with irregular brown spots running along its back.

These spots are only a few shades deeper; hence they don’t stand out.

Barbados Threadsnake

Known as the smallest snake specie, this one unquestionably makes it to the list.

It is not a very common choice for a pet since it is so tiny in size, but many people still keep them.

Size & Weight

They usually grow up to 10cm in length and weigh less than 1g.

Diet

Their primary diet includes ant larvae and termites.

Life Span

They typically live up to a couple of months after being hatched.

Appearance

These earthworms- like snakes have a unique pattern.

They have continuous stripes from eyes to tail with an added set of thin strokes like lines across the mid-section.

They are usually gray to darkish brown.

Worm Snake

Worm snakes are slowly gaining momentum among the snake pet owners, although this one is not suitable for beginners because of their hidden habits.

Size & Weight

The average length of the Worm snake is between 10-13 inches, and they weigh just a couple of grams.

Diet

As the name suggests, these snakes feed on worms.

You can feed them earthworms, which are quite readily available.

Other worms include butterworms, waxworms, and silkworms.

Life Span

They can live up to 4-5 years.

Appearance

Worm snakes have a light to a darker brown upper body.

Their underside is usually of a lighter color, ranging from orange/pink to white.

Their body is also covered with shiny, smooth scales, and they have a narrow head with small black eyes.

Gopher snake

can you make gopher snake as your pet

Although new to the list, Gophers are still an excellent pet snake for beginners.

The reason being that they are not aggressive and don’t have any venom glands.

Size & Weight

They tend to be a little longer, and their average length varies from anywhere between 3-4 feet.

They mostly weigh between 2-4 lbs.

Diet

Gophers prefer rodent-based diets, which include rats, mice, etc. They also eat lizards, small birds, and their eggs.

Life Span

Gophers can live up to 10-12 years in captivity.

Appearance

They vary from light brown to cream in color and have dark spots like blotches on their back.

They have darker, smaller spots along their side, and they usually have light-colored bellies.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Small Pet Snakes

How many times have we heard this- ‘Half knowledge is dangerous’ and yet we continue in oblivion.

But not under our watch!! While the above list is all updated, it will still be careless to venture into something without full information.

So here is a quick list of advantages and disadvantages for you. I hope this clears any remaining doubt in your mind.

Advantages of Small Pet Snakes

They are Docile

This is the most basic but, at the same time, the most significant advantage of pet snakes.

You obviously cannot house a snake who has temperamental issues and are aggressive or poisonous. 

Most of the small pet snakes that I have mentioned above are non-poisonous, and even for the ones who do bite, their bite is not dangerous and subsides with a couple of days.

Also, once these snakes have developed a trusting relationship with you, it is very less likely for them to get aggressive.

They are Comparatively Easy to Take Care Of

Although they do have specific needs, they are still easier to take care of as compared to adult snakes.

Also, you don’t need to give them the kind of attention that you usually give your other pets.

For instance, they don’t need to be walked, and you can spend a day away from them, and they’d still be there happy inside their tank.

They can be Handled Easily.

Small snakes are easier to handle, especially for beginners.

They are easy to pet since they are smaller in size and, therefore, more contained.

Also, they are more stable when held and less likely to get out of control.

They are Not Frightening to Look At

The most significant advantage of pet snakes that stay small is that they are not scary to look at.

Some snakes are even as tiny as earthworms, and this particular feature makes them approachable.

Imagine housing a 12ft. Python, and you’ll know what I am talking about.

They Don’t Occupy Much Space.

All these snakes need is a small enclosure, sufficient light, regular food and water, and that’s it, they can survive for years.

This is especially true for pet snakes that remain small.

They don’t need a lot to stay happy.

Disadvantages of Small Pet Snakes

They are not your Typical Pets

Although they are quite fascinating, you need to come in terms with the fact that they don’t have the standard pet features like dogs or cats.

You can’t always cuddle with them, and they don’t respond to tricks and name-calling.

Sometimes, they even hide and don’t like to come out of their enclosure.

They are Good Escape Artists

Pet snakes, especially small ones, are notoriously good at escaping.

They don’t need a lot of room to squeeze out from their enclosure, and their small size only makes it easier for them to slither away.

And once out, it is tough to get hold of them.

So you need to make sure that their enclosures are tightly secured all the time, and you need to keep a closer eye on them, especially when you clean their containers or handle them, etc.

They have Specialized Needs.

Even though we are talking about pet snakes that stay small, they still have almost the same amount of needs as an adult pet snake.

You require special lightings and specific diets; you need to take extra care during their shedding etc.

Although they are beautiful creatures, they can only thrive well in captivity if all their needs are met with full consideration.

They are Prone to Health Problems and Infections

Despite taking complete care and keeping a close eye, these pet snakes are still prone to several health problems and infections in captivity.

Some of the most common ones are regurgitations, dermatitis, mouth rot, respiratory illness, etc.

You need to be vigilant and immediately respond if you notice something unusual with your pet snake. 

It is always better to consult an expert when it comes to these reptiles.

They mostly need a Rodent-based Diet.

Most of these snakes need thawed or frozen mice/rats in their diet; they sometimes even prefer live rodents and other animals like frogs, lizards, etc.

You need to make sure that you are absolutely okay with handling these animals for your pet snakes.

Although they are readily available in a pet store, they can still sometimes creep you out.

So make sure you are comfortable with that.

Final Words

This article is just a very brief rundown of a topic that would need an entire book to cover all the points.

In case you do plan to pet a small snake, please doa more thorough research before you make your decision.

That being said, small snakes are genuinely fascinating and can be excellent pets if given sufficient care.

Leave A Comment