The Pros & Cons of Keeping a Pet Snake

Discover the pros and cons of keeping a snake and whether it is the right pet for you.

Mar 21, 2023By Donna Hobson

If you're looking for an exotic pet, snakes are bound to appear during your search. These easygoing reptiles are relatively low maintenance, independent, and quiet. Still, their needs differ from that of a mammal such as a cat or a dog, and you need to ensure that you can provide an appropriate environment before adopting.

Snakes are not a "starter" pet, nor are they something that you should buy on a whim. While it won't necessarily bond with you, a snake will rely on you to cater to its needs. But if you're willing to do the research, these reptiles can be welcome additions to your family. Here are some pros and cons you'll need to consider before deciding.

Pros of Having a Pet Snake

Snakes Are a Low Maintenance Pet

corn snakes curled up together
Credit: Image by Frauke Feind on Pixabay

In many ways, snakes are lower maintenance than a number of other common pets, such as cats or dogs. You don't have to take them for walks, they won't shed dander and cause allergies, and you can keep them in their cage for most of the time. For these reasons, they can make ideal pets for people who live in apartments or smaller spaces.

Aside from cleaning out the terrarium, there's not much you'll need to do for your snake. These cold-blooded creatures will prefer to stay in the heat of their tank. As reptiles, they're unlikely to form a bond with you, so you won't need to make time for cuddles or playtime.

Snakes Are Quiet

snake crawling through the grass
Credit: Image by Karsten Paulick on Pixabay

A pet that talks to you might seem cute initially, but it can become a distraction. If you're working from home, it's difficult to ignore a kitten meowing for food or a dog who barks because he wants you to go out and play. While pet parents love this kind of communication with their fur babies, it can limit productivity.

One benefit of having a pet snake is that they're very quiet. If you're trying to focus on an assignment or helping kids with their homework, you can maintain your concentration. In addition, you won't get any complaints from the neighbors that your pet is making noise all day long. This makes snakes the perfect companion for people who have neighbors nearby.

Snakes Are Light Eaters

corn snake eating
Credit: Image by Frauke Feind on Pixabay

Feeding your snake could present a few challenges (as we'll explore in the cons list below), but they don't eat much food, which is good for several reasons. In general, a snake eats once or twice a week, so you won't have to worry about feeding them very often. If you have a young or pregnant snake, its diet may alter, and it's best to consult your vet for the optimum number of feeding times.

Still, you'll spend a lot less time feeding snakes than you would other pets; not only does this save you time, but it also saves you money. And you won't have to clean up as much poop because your snake won't go to the toilet so often.

Snakes Are Easygoing

corn snake approaching a human
Credit: Image by gliciafernandaalmeida on Pixabay

You might think of snakes as aggressive predators, but this is not really the case. Most snakes are docile and will only attack if they are stressed or scared. Once a snake accepts you as its owner, it is very unlikely to bite you unless it accidentally catches your hand when aiming for food.

In addition, snake bites pose less of a risk than dog bites. A venomous snake bite can be deadly, but the bite of many non-venomous snakes is far easier to handle. For starters, it's much smaller than a dog bite and hurts less. In addition, snakes carry less transmittable diseases than dogs, so you're less likely to get sick from the bite.

Still, pet snakes rarely bite their owners and will generally present in a calm and docile manner. If you're looking for a calm, easygoing pet, a snake could be a better option than a dog or cat.

Cons of Having a Pet Snake

Snakes Have a Diverse Set of Needs

snake wrapped around log
Credit: Image by gliciafernandaalmeida on Pixabay

The needs of a snake are quite different from those of an average pet, so you'll need to research before committing. Not only are snakes different from other pets, but they're also each different from each other. For example, a corn snake's needs differ from those of a python; finding out about the requirements beforehand can help you pick out the best snake to fit in with your lifestyle.

Snakes Require a Special Diet

snake eating a mouse
Credit: Image by Edgar Curious on Pixabay

Ensuring you can meet the nutritional needs of a snake is essential before you adopt one into your home. Snakes are carnivores, and some - such as corn snakes - require live food, such as mice. If you're squeamish about this, it's best not to get a snake. In addition, people who are vegetarians or vegans may struggle with the practice of feeding animals to their pets.

A better alternative is to purchase frozen mice and rats, but you'll still need to handle the animals. Many snakes will adapt to a diet of dead prey, which is a safer, more humane practice than presenting them with live animals.

Snakes Are Great at Escaping

snake slithering through plant pot
Credit: Image by gayleenfroese2 on Pixabay

Snakes don't come with high demands; a suitably sized terrarium(10-20 for small snakes; 30-55 gallons for large snakes) in which they can eat, sleep, and shed will be enough to keep most happy. But you must make sure your terrarium is secure. Any loose lids, cracks, or damage could allow your snake to escape. While they might not pose a risk to you, they can put themselves in danger.

Snakes are a lower maintenance alternative to several popular pets, and they don't need the same attention and relationship as an animal such as a cat or a dog requires. Still, they will rely on you to keep them safe through care and consideration.

Snakes Are Reptiles

human holding baby python
Credit: Image by Md Golam Mortuza Ali on Pixabay

It might sound like an obvious fact, but snakes are reptiles and come with very different needs from mammals. In the wild, snakes get warm by basking in the sun, and they burrow underground to cool off. These are animals that need adequate room to move and exercise.

Just because a product is marketed as "ideal" doesn't mean it is. For example, some terrariums are far too small. Your snake needs space to stretch out to maintain optimum well-being. You can keep a snake as a pet, but you must do thorough research first and ensure that you can meet the complex environmental needs of these animals.

Donna Hobson
By Donna Hobson

Donna believes that keeping a pet is the key to a happy life. Over the years, many creatures have passed through her home - Sooty the cat, Millie the rabbit, Stuart (Little) the guinea pig, and Trixie the tortoise, alongside her pet goldfish, Zippy, who lived to the grand old age of 24 years! She currently resides with her black kitten Jinx and an aquarium full of fish and snails to entrance them both. When she is not looking after her pets, Donna enjoys researching and writing the answers to all your pet-related wonders.