Does Your Child Have a Pet Snake? I Want to Hear from You! :)

Updated on January 21, 2011
L.S. asks from Chula Vista, CA
13 answers

Hi moms,
Our daughter has wanted a pet snake for over a year. Her birthday (6) is in a few months and she's hounding us daily. Soooo ... we are seriously considering it, but I'm adamant that it stays in the garage at all times.

I'd like to hear any and all advice that you have for me if your child has a pet snake. We haven't focused on a variety yet, but I can tell you if it needs to eat mice, it's NOT joining the family, hahaha. I also want a snake that will stay relatively small in size.

Curious about costs for the set up, food, maintenance, do they need warming lights in a garage that gets cold -- I mean anything at all you can tell me that might be helpful/useful. This is brand new territory for us as we've always stuck to cute, furry creatures (dogs & cats)! And yes, we have a dog and cat right now. The cat has a kitty door that goes into our attached garage and she spends a lot of time in there to escape the dog.

Thanks, moms!

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So What Happened?

Well, I've never been sold on the snake idea and I'm going to have my dear husband read all of these responses! Thank you for your input and info!!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Being 6 years old is relatively young for almost any pet... the responsibility of a pet should be on the child at least 80% of the time... that being said.. when my son wanted a snake I said no for quite a while..when he was 15 he finally got one... the first time it got out of it's box... everyone screamed and no one wanted to actually pick it up and put it back in... I finally had to give in and I threw a towel over it and picked up and tossed it (all in one sweeping motion) back into it's box... and I said... get rid of it today.. (he gave it to a friend)..
the morale being if she can keep her room clean and do chores (she might be responsible and ready to take care of a pet).. otherwise you'll be doing it.. second if you take her to a pet store and she can pick up and hold the snake then maybe you'll be ok.. otherwise be prepared to do it

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answers from Minneapolis on

I don't suppose you can convince her to get a rose-haired tarantula instead? Seriously, it is the BEST pet a person can have! I HATE spiders of all shapes and sizes, and had a really hard time when we first got it, but then realized what a great pet it is.

1. You don't handle it - it is a pet to watch only so no worries about germs.

2. Zero smell. I mean zero.

3. Low maintenance. We don't even control the temp with ours and she does just fine.

4. Long life span. Who wants a pet that dies in a year or two?

5. Cheap. I feed it a couple of crickets a week. About .50 cents a week will do the trick. Change the bedding once in awhile, which is a little more expensive but lasts quite awhile. The terraium I keep her in cost about $25.

6. The coolest thing ever . . . when she molts, it looks like there are two spiders in the cage. She thinks it is her friend so we always leave it in there for a week or two but then put the molt in a jar and let the kids take it to school (we superglue the lid shut - the skin/shell/hair has irritants on it so we just don't someone to open the jar and handle the molt) and your child will automatically be the coolest kid in school for about a week.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

I think snakes are creepy. But I will try to not let that color my answer.
All animals see other animals as food, snakes more so than say a cat or dog. If the cat goes into the garage to escape the dog and the snake is in the garage and needs food and gets out of his habitat it will eat the cat. I know size is a factor here. I would read up on snakes and talk to your vet.
I know this sounds strange but sometimes no has to stay no. I have always loved animals my Mom has always been deathly afraid of animals, no pets allowed. When I became an adult I was able to have pets. Your daughter wanting a snake may have wait until she is an adult and has her own home.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I have had a couple of snakes in my life. I had one when I was about her age. I had a garter snake. It was a great snake. They eat live goldfish. You just put a bowl of water in their cage with a couple of feeder fish and they go after them. It is pretty quick. Garter snakes can take a little time to warm up to human touch. Try to get one that has been handled a lot. I got one once that was not so friendly and would spray me every time I picked it up. I think I finally let it go.
As far as set up, you do need an aquarium, heat lamp (I do not recommend a heat rock, they can get really hot an burn the snake) and some trees or rocks for it to climb on. Ask at the pet store and they can probably help you more. They are fairly easy to take care of. You can get the grass mats from the hardware store or pet store and just hose them off when they get full of poop. That is about it.
Have fun!

In response to the person who had the biting python:
You should never feed a big snake in the cage that they live in. We had a python too (whole nother story) We always took her out of her cage and put her in a box with the mouse and let her eat in there. If you feed them mice in there cage, and they are hungry, they are going to go after your hand. Our snake never bit us. As far as escaping, mine never escaped either. It you buy clamps for the lid and make sure it is on tight, they cant escape. Yes, if it is loose they have the strength to push the lid off. Mine would smash itself between the lid and the ledge of the tank. Maybe that was its warm spot. Just wanted to add my 2 cents. :-)

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answers from Milwaukee on

I helped a classroom teacher (friend) get set up and buy one. I honestly do not know what kind it is but it does eat mice :) Personally I would not recommend keeping the snake out in a cold garage, they need a warming light even when indoors (need to be kept at 77-87 degrees in cage, impossible for a cold garage and a heating light). This would be an indoor pet. You can get smaller ones, but I do not remember what they eat since my friend decided to go with a medium size one that eats mice. If I remember correctly ALL of the snakes ate frozen mice/rats once a week or so.

Just to start out I believe my friend spent easily $600 to get everything that was needed... then there is the additional cost of food and cleaning items that need to be picked up here and there.

The BEST thing you can do is go to the pet store, by yourself and ask them the above questions. Price everything out there, tank, everything to go inside of it, how often to clean, what needs to be replaced at every cleaning, what the smaller snake costs, what the price of their food is.

You are husband are going to need to help with the cleaning, so handling the snake, the food (snakes are prey eaters, so it is healthest to give them prey/frozen animal for them once in awhile), snakes live 20 plus years so it is a very long term pet (you will be caring for it when she is off to college), snakes are great at escaping so you must check the cage everyday & after ever time it is open to make sure the lid is in good shape and secured tightly... if that is too much I would say no to your daughter and look at a hermit crab, turtle (but those are tricky too).

Garter & rat snakes usually only reach 3 ft but can get up to 4/5 feet... but they may bite, smelly and will leave a smell on your hands when handled.

King Snake usually reachs 4-5 feet... has a good temper and easy to handle.

Corn & Milk Snakes usually reach about 4-6 feet... but are nervous and harder to handle.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Pretty much every snake eats mice or something bigger. If you don't want a snake that eats mice, then you need to look for one that eats fish. I'm not sure how many or if pet stores even sell them. I grew up in Utah, and we caught wild garter snakes(11/2-2 ft long, 1/2-1 in in diameter, green or brown in color, with stripes) that would eat fish. You can do some research to see if they, or something similar, are even sold. Otherwise the next ones up would be gopher, king, and corn snakes. Corn snakes are orange/yellow in color. King snakes come in a variety of colors. Gopher snakes are pale yellow with brown stripes. All get to between 5-6 ft long and about 1 1/2-2 in. in diameter. These types of snakes do eat mice. After these you get up into pythons and boas. If you do decide on one of these snakes, I would go with the ball python. It is the smallest python, reaching 5-7ft in length, and has an even temperment. All of the rest of boas/pythons reach 15-30 ft long, and can be honery, dependinf on the type. I had a ball python, columbian boa, and a burmese python as well as the garter snakes. The columbian boa had a pretty even temperment, but the burmese was pretty irritable and would hiss at us when we opened the cage. However, she only bit a couple of times. We fed ours live mice and rats. You can buy frozen ones if you don't want the live ones. Ours would come to the top of the cage when they were hungry. Clean the tank daily to prevent smell, as well as making sure they have clean water. Feed once every 1-2 wks. When they are getting ready to shed, their eyes cloud over. It is best not to handle them during this time. They are more likely to bite because they can't see.
Snakes are reptiles, which are cold-blooded, they will need a heating lamp for warmth. They will become very sick or die if they get too cold. A 20-gal tank is sufficient for the adult size of the gopher, king, and corn snakes. A 10-gal will work if you get a garter snake. You'll, eventually, need a larger tank for any type of boa or python. They will also need a cave of some kind to hide in/under, and a water dish. Also, make sure the tank has a latching top to prevent escape.
I found snakes to be wonderful, easy pets. And handling them on a regular basis will help keep them used to being touched. I would relax, and have fun with your new adventure.

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answers from Los Angeles on

as a kid I had a rosy boa (I think)it ate mice, and stayed small. there was a heat lamp. it lived in the shed.

i remember that it got smellier than you'd think. and the skin shed was really cool. (these are kid memories)

also there is a big reptile store, i think in Huntington Beach. called prehistoric pets. they may be able to help you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

snakes are carnivores. small snakes can eat worms and insects, but research carefully to make sure you're feeding the right kinds, especially if you're using frozen or freeze-dried food.
yes, snakes need warming lights and controlled habitats. they're not easy the way hamsters are. you'll need to make sure he's not in a place where the cat can menace him.
snakes are great pets. they're interesting, clean, fun, and some are even kind of affectionate. but they do require some advance preparation and research.
:) khairete

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

My daughter had a snake at her Dads house between the ages of 5-6 (I was totally against it) Apparently it was "gentle" anyway, she had it out on her bed (unsupervised) and it bit her on the leg. Nothing serious but thank god my ex did have a "little" sense and took the snake back to the pet shop after that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Maybe check out some books from the library before considering committing to this.
I dated a guy with a snake and it was very high maintance and it bit him a few times. It seemed to bite every time he went to feed it. I never liked touching it or holding it. He had a python if I remember corrently. He ended up not being able to care for it and his parents were done having to do it for him so he sold it to a pet shop in the end and basically gave up.
Even being in a built in enclosure in a wall this snake found ways to get out.
They are not the easiest things to have.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

You've gotten so much great advice.....We don't have a snake, but we do have an iguana - 6ft long one! I know that iguanas can carry sallmonella on their skin - not sure if that is true of snakes too. We have to be very careful that after we pet "Lefty" we wash our hands well. You might want to check into that too.......

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

We don't have a snake...yet. My daughter would like one. We have hermit crabs for now. I don't think our landlord would be OK with a snake.

I would do a lot of research on the needs of a snake (they can live for 20 years, some types up to 50 years!) before committing. They will need a certain temp, humidity level, food, living space, etc. I don't know what breed of snake you can find that won't get large (most get up to 6 feet long) and that don't eat mice, because most do.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Please consider the snake. These animals would prefer to live in the wild, not in fish tanks. Purchasing "pet" snakes supports an industry that does not care much about the needs of the snakes. Dogs and cats from rescue centers are far better choices of pets to live with humans.

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