Despite their frightening reputations, snakes are really quite docile creatures and actually make great pets for the adventurous child. Following the initial set-up process, keeping and caring for a pet snake is relatively simple which makes a snake the perfect starter pet for young children who may not be ready for a dog or a cat.
When choosing a pet snake, you should first decide exactly what it is that you are looking for in your new pet. Every species of snake comes with its own distinct personality and some snakes simply make better pets than others. If you are looking for a snake which will remain active and visible for observation, moving around often and exploring its terrarium, the Ball Python is probably not the snake for you. This species is known for its reclusive nature and rarely ventures from its hiding cave, which means it may not be the most interesting pet to keep in your home.
The California King Snake, on the other hand, is a snake which is commonly kept as a pet because this species becomes tame rather quickly and responds positively to handling from its owner. You should keep these personality traits in mind when choosing a pet snake and try to find the snake which fits you and your family best.
Other factors to consider when choosing the perfect pet snake for you include the animal's growth rate and feeding habits. Some species, such as the Gopher Snake, grow rapidly for the extent of their adult lives and can reach sizes in excess of 8 feet long. Keeping a snake such like this a pet requires a sense of commitment because the animal will require a new home each time it outgrows its previous enclosure.
Feeding your pet snake is another issue which you will want to think through before making your decision. While nearly all commonly kept pet snakes readily eat small mice, certain species have specialized appetites which may pose a problem for some pet owners. Water snakes prefer to eat goldfish and frogs, for example, and these food products may not be easily obtainable.
For someone who is new to snake ownership, it is best to choose a pet snake like a King Snake or a Corn Snake that will eat mice. If you are at all squeamish and would rather not feed your pet snake live mice, most pet shops offer frozen mice which can be easily thawed and offered to the snake. One thing to remember is that some species of snake do not respond as readily to frozen food items, so consult your local pet store to be sure that you're new snake will accept frozen mice.
Keeping a pet snake can be very rewarding provided you take the time to choose the right snake for you. While many people may think of these animals as scary creatures, in reality a pet snake can be affectionate, responding to the sight of its keeper. Your pet snake will provide years of enjoyment if maintained properly and your child will learn valuable lessons about responsibility, preservation and respect for the wonders of nature.