These snakes are very good for novice owners based on the following criteria:
Initial cost of purchase: Both the snake itself and its setup
Ease of care: How much effort and time you have to put into having an enjoyable pet
Tolerance of mistakes: How hardy it is and how well it will be able to deal with owner mistakes
King Snakes are generally very docile, hardy, and good snakes for beginners. They come in a wide variety of color combinations, but the most common is the California King Snake which is black/white.
Size: Hatchling King Snakes range in size from 12-15 inches in length; adult King Snakes reach anywhere from 3 to 6 feet.
Life span: Usually 12 – 15 years, though they can live 20 years or longer.
Food: Baby King Snakes will eat pinky mice and graduate up to hopper mice. Adults will typically eat a large mouse or weanling rat.
King Snakes are a good beginner snake for kids because they are easily handled, and are pretty active in their cages, making them interesting to watch. Ensuring you have an escape-proof enclosure will be paramount. As babies, King Snakes can be a little nippy, but quickly become used to being handled. King Snakes are beautiful and can make very good pets
Fun Fact: King Snakes will eat other snakes as well as lizards, fish, and rodents. Because of their willingness to eat other snakes, they should always be kept alone. King Snakes are also immune to the venom of rattle snakes and will eat them in the wild!
The Ball Python is a favorite of many snake enthusiasts as far as a beginner snake. They grow to a maximum size of only 3-5 feet. They’re also docile and easy to handle. Their name comes from the fact that, when threatened, they roll themselves into a ball, using their big bodies to protect their small heads. Were it not for the fact that they can sometimes be finicky eaters, they would have been #1 on the list.
Size: Hatchling Ball Pythons range in size from 12-15 inches in length. Adult Ball Pythons reach anywhere from 3 to 5 feet. Females grow larger than males.
Life span: 20 years or longer.
Food: Baby Ball Pythons will eat mice and weanling rats. Adults will typically eat small rats.
Ball Pythons are a great beginner snake for kids because they are so docile and so easy to handle. They aren’t active until nighttime, though, so if your child is looking for a snake that will be active during the day, a King or Corn Snake would be a better choice. On the opposite end of the scale, they may be so shy that they don’t eat at all. While docile and lovely, Ball Pythons require a lot of patience. Making them feel comfortable means maybe not picking them up for a week or more. Excited kids wanting to interact with their pet may find this a difficult task.
Fun Fact: Because of their popularity in the pet trade, Ball Python breeders have selectively bred animals over the last 20 years or so for a wide variety of color and pattern mutations. We refer to them as “morphs,” as they are genetic mutations.
Corn Snakes are #1 on most “best pet snakes” lists and they clinched the #1 spot on the Best Snakes for Children/Beginners list as well. They are very docile, hardy and great snakes for beginners. They come in a wide variety of color combinations, but the most common is red/orange.
They are easily kept, handled, fed, and they seem to have a very outgoing personality. Yes, snakes have personalities. Many Corn Snakes seem to enjoy attention from their owners.
Size: Hatchling Corn Snakes range from 12-15 inches in length. Adult Corn Snakes will reach anywhere from 4 to 6 feet.
Life span: 15-20 years or longer.
Food: Baby Corn Snakes will eat pinky mice and graduate up to hopper mice. Adults will typically eat a large mouse or weanling rat.
Corn Snakes are the best beginner snake for kids because they are easily handled, reluctant to bite, active, colorful, and big enough to be cool but not so big that you’d worry about your child handling his or her pet. Ensuring you have an escape-proof enclosure will be key as Corn Snakes are pretty active. They come in a variety of colors and there are now even scaleless Corn Snakes!
Fun Fact: Like Ball Pythons, Corn Snakes are extremely popular as pets. Also just like Ball Pythons, Corn Snakes are available in a wide variety of color and pattern mutations.