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Starting with Snakes


The following list provides the common and species names of snakes that are good for the beginning herper. In compiling this list I have taken the following points into consideration;
  • Appearance and Temperament
  • Feeding preferences
  • Snake size v Cage size
  • Initial cost and upkeep
  • Availability
  • Breeding potential
  • Conservation status

The list is split into two groups - 1) Boas and Pythons, 2) Colubrid Snakes.

NOTE - Suppliers of these snakes are listed for your information as to those advertising on the Web. I have no experience of their services or quality and no endorsement of their business is implied either directly or indirectly (see note below). The WWW Herp Dealers Page is located here. Consult the latest postings on rec.pets.herp if you need contacts or information on purchasing snakes. Also browse through the various herpetology sources available on the WWW via Yahoo Herpetology or check out the advertisements and classifieds in magazines like "Reptile and Amphibian", "Reptiles", "Vivarium" etc. at your local bookshop.

Good snakes to begin with are;

Boas and Pythons:

Columbian Rainbow Boa (Epicrates cenchria maurus)

  • Type - Boa
  • Origin - South America
  • Maximum Size - 6 ft (2 m)
  • Food - Rodents
  • Litter Size - Up to 20
  • Gestation period - About 200 days
  • WWW Supplier -
  • Approximate Cost - $40 and up

Pacific Boa or Irian Jaya Boa (Candoia carinata)

  • Type - Boa
  • Origin - Indonesia and Pacific Islands
  • Maximum Size - 5 ft (1.5 m)
  • Food - Rodents
  • Litter Size - Up to 60
  • Gestation period - NA
  • WWW Supplier -
  • Approximate Cost - $30 and up

Royal or Ball Python (Python regius)

  • Type - Python
  • Origin - Africa
  • Maximum Size - 4 ft (1.2 m)
  • Food - Rodents
  • Litter Size - Up to 7-8
  • Gestation period - 40-80 days
  • WWW Supplier -
  • Approximate Cost - $40 and up
  • Notes - Can be difficult feeders sometimes.

Colubrid Snakes:

Corn Snake (Elaphe guttata)

  • Type - Colubrid
  • Origin - United States
  • Maximum Size - 3-3.5 ft (1 m)
  • Food - Rodents
  • Litter Size - About 12
  • Gestation period - About 60 days
  • WWW Supplier - Desert Serpents, LC Mohr, R&M Herps, Serpent City
  • Approximate Cost - $10 and up.
  • Notes - Many color morphs available.

Common Ratsnake (Elaphe obselata sp.)

  • Type - Colubrid
  • Origin - United States
  • Maximum Size - 3-6 ft (1-2 m)
  • Food - Rodents
  • Litter Size - Up to 40
  • Gestation period - About 65-70 days
  • WWW Supplier - as above
  • Approximate Cost - $15 and up.

Hognose Snakes (Heterodon sp.)

  • Type - Colubrid
  • Origin - United States
  • Maximum Size - 3 ft (1 m)
  • Food - Rodents
  • Litter Size - 5-20
  • Gestation period - About 60 days
  • WWW Supplier - Desert Serpents, LC Mohr
  • Approximate Cost - $25-35 (H. nasicus - Western Hognose)

Prairie Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster)

  • Type - Colubrid
  • Origin - United States
  • Maximum Size - 3 ft (1 m)
  • Food - Rodents
  • Litter Size - Up to 5-15
  • Gestation period - About 60 days
  • WWW Supplier - LC Mohr
  • Approximate Cost - $20 and up.

Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getulus sp.)

  • Type - Colubrid
  • Origin - United States
  • Maximum Size - 6 ft (2 m)
  • Food - Rodents
  • Litter Size - Varies with species
  • Gestation period - About 60 days
  • WWW Supplier - Desert Serpents, LC Mohr, R&M Herps, Serpent City
  • Approximate Cost - $30 and up.
  • Notes - Many color morphs and subspecies are available with beautiful patterns, stripes, blotches and spots!

Milksnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum sp.)

  • Type - Colubrid
  • Origin - United States and Mexico
  • Maximum Size - 3 ft (1 m)
  • Food - Rodents
  • Litter Size - Up to 20 (usually 10 or less)
  • Gestation period - About 60 days
  • WWW Supplier - as above
  • Approximate Cost - $40 and up.
  • Notes - Many color morphs and subspecies are available. Some subspecies are endangered or threatened!! Buying captive bred individuals will ensure that you have a good pet and will help to maintain the natural populations.

Pine or Gopher Snakes (Pituophis sp.)

  • Type - Colubrid
  • Origin - United States (some from Mexico)
  • Maximum Size - 6 ft (2 m)
  • Food - Rodents
  • Litter Size - Up to 24
  • Gestation period - About 60-70 days
  • WWW Supplier - as above
  • Approximate Cost - $25 and up.
  • Notes - Many color morphs and subspecies are available. Some individual Pituophis can be a little aggressive and may not be good snakes for the young beginning herpetologist. Some subspecies are endangered or threatened!! Buying captive bred individuals will ensure that you have a good pet and will help to maintain the natural populations.


POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING YOUR FIRST SNAKE

1. Find out as much information as possible about your proposed purchase BEFORE you buy. Read books and magazines, consult other snake lovers, join your local herp club, read and ask questions on rec.pets.herp.

2. Buy from a reputable breeder or dealer. Most pet shops know very little about the reptiles that they sell and they charge extraordinary prices.

3. Buy captive bred animals whenever possible.

4. Make sure you have adequate housing and warmth for your snake.

5. Make sure you have access to a food supply for your snake. All snakes are carnivores, so you will need to purchase frozen mice or breed your own. Always use pre-killed prey - live prey can hurt your snake in the ensuing nasty conflict!!!!

6. Buy a snake that is right for you!


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Last Updated: 04 April 2007