Smallest Pet Snakes
There are more than 3,000 species of snakes in the world, and here we are going to cover the smallest pet snakes out of those.
With so many different species, there are snakes of many different sizes, from super tiny snakes like the Barbados Threadsnake or the Bimini Blind Snake, to super large snakes, like the Reticulated Python that can grow up to 30 feet (9 meters) long.
Owning a snake is a truly long-term commitment as some snake species have a long lifespan (like the Kenyan Sand Boa or Rosy Boa mentioned in this article: there are reports of some living for more than 30 years).
So, before we take a new snake home, we should be honest with ourselves and see if we are ready to take on the responsibility. On the other hand, we need to make sure we will be able to offer our new pet snake all the necessary facilities it deserves.
Inexperienced pet owners might find it easier to start with smaller snakes, as they are easier to accommodate and handle. Small snakes are especially suitable for those who do not have much space at home.
But just the fact of being small does not make a snake a good pet. For example, Barbados or the Bimini even if small, do not make good pet snakes. In fact, you can hardly tell the Barbados is really a snake as it looks a lot more like an earthworm!
As follows here are 10 snakes that are both small and also make good pets (the ranking is based on size):
- Ringneck Snake – 25-38 cm/10-15 in
- Smooth Green Snake – 36-51 cm/14-20 in
- Scarlet Kingsnake – 40- 50cm/16-20 in
- African Egg-Eating Snake – 40-75cm/17-34 in
- Rosy Boa – 40-75 cm /17-34 in
- Ribbon Snake – 40-90cm./ 16 to 35 in
- Garter Snake – 45-50cm / 18-20 in
- Kenyan Sand Boa – 50 cm / 20 in
- Anthill Python Snake (also known as Pygmy Python Snake) – 50-55 cm/ 24-30 in
- Ball Python Snake – 110 -120 cm/ 43-47 in
Quick Reference Section
1. Ringneck Snake – 25-38cm/10-15 in
- Binomial name: Diadophis punctatus
- Subspecies: northern ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus Edwards) and southern ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus punctatus)
- Adult Length: Ringneck snake adults grow to between 25-38cm/10-15 in. Juveniles measure 20cm/ 8 in and grow an inch or two each year.
- Adult Weight: 1.3m/1.5 grams.
- Lifespan: 10 years in the wild, 20 years in captivity
- Diet: small worms and invertebrates, mainly.
- Enclosure size: 10 gallon
- Temperature requirements: The temperature inside the snake enclosure should be an ambient temperature of 72 F to 76 F, with the basking temperature being 82 F.
Ringneck Snakes are our absolute favorites!!! On one hand, and even if they are really tiny, they look like a dangerous snake. And in fact, even if they are harmless to humans, they are actually venomous; they have weak venom in their saliva which they use to subdue their prey.
Their best distinguishing feature is the characteristic orange necklace which encircles the neck, just behind the head. Aside from this, they are greyish, black or dark brown. They also have a yellow or orange underside.
Some will appreciate the fact they don’t need to be fed mice. In the wild, their prey ranges from amphibians, lizards and small snakes to salamanders and invertebrates.
In captivity, they can be fed with insects and you can add a calcium supplement as ZooMed Calcium. Fluker’S Repta Calcium is also another option, but it is best to consult with your vet before giving any supplements.
You can keep them in a terrarium so that when they actually come out you can enjoy watching them better. Exo Terra has one that will work just fine sized at 24x18x12.
One advantage to this is that they have a specially designed lock to prevent escape since like any caged animal they will want to get out.
Because Ringneck Snakes are difficult to breed in captivity, most come from the wild. However, you should pay attention to the fact some subspecies are protected by conservation laws, according to the Animal Diversity Web.
2. Smooth Green Snake – 36-51 cm/14-20 in
- Binomial name: Opheodrys vernalis
- Adult Length: 36-51cm/14-20 in
- Adult Weight: 30 grams.
- Lifespan: 6 to 8 years in the wild, about 10 in captivity
- Diet: insectivorous
- Enclosure size: 10 gallon
- Temperature requirements: the ambient temperatures under the light should be between 80 and 85 degrees F. The ambient temperatures at the cool side of the cage should be in the low 70s.
Smooth green snakes are good snake pets because of their manageable size and their insect-based diet that as happens with Ringnecks, allows keepers to avoid having to feed them rodents.
Having said so, it is important to point out that even if they rarely bite, they experience a lot of stress when handled, so handling should be kept to a minimum.
Another consideration is that even if their name denotes they have a smooth, docile character, this is just true for grown in captivity individuals. Unfortunately, most specimens offered for sale are wild-caught animals.
Last but not least, and as suggested with Ringneck Snakes, be sure to check your local wildlife laws before purchasing a smooth green snake: this species receives legal protection in some areas.
3. Scarlet Kingsnake – 40- 50cm/16-20 in
- Binomial name: Lampropeltis elapsoides
- Adult Length: 40 and 50 cm/16-20 in
- Adult Weight: 1270 grams.
- Lifespan: 10-15 years
- Diet: small rodents and other snakes
- Enclosure size: 10-gallon (some keepers suggest that a 20-gallon vertical terrarium; the lid at the top may be necessary to prevent escapes)
- Temperature requirements: room temperatures between 75 F and 85 F are adequate, with a small drop at night
Nonvenomous Scarlet Kingsnakes evolved to mimic the venomous Coral Snake to scare predators. Cool right?
Though the coloring is the same, the pattern differs between Coral and Scarlet Kingsnakes. Coral Snakes have red and yellow bands next to one another, while harmless Scarlet Kingsnakes have red and black bands next to each other.
If threatened, Kingsnakes will emit an unpleasant musk and shake their tails. This is another example of Batesian mimicry, this time of a rattlesnake.
4. African Egg-Eating Snake – 40-75cm/17-34 in
- Binomial name: Dasypeltis scabra
- Adult Length: 45-75cm/1.5 and 2.5 ft
- Adult Weight: less than one lb.
- Lifespan: just 5.2 years
- Diet: as their name suggests, feed exclusively on eggs and require no whole animal prey
- Enclosure size: 20-gallon
- Temperature requirements: the overall temperature of the enclosure can be held at about 70 F; a drop in temperature at night is not a huge issue, but try to keep it above 60 F
Even if they make good pets as they are very easy to handle., feeding them is challenging. Besides this, they are not easy to get as they are relatively uncommon: they will likely only be found in online classifieds and breeder websites.
As its name suggests, they predominantly eat eggs. They have no discernible teeth, opting instead for spurs along its spine, which they use to crack the eggs after swallowing.
You will need a reliable source of extra small quail or finch eggs that are preferably fertilized.
These eggs can be found in Asian food markets, online, and sometimes bird breeders will provide them. If you can locate their food, these small snakes make lovely pets!!!
Check out our care guide on the egg eating snake for more!
5. Rosy Boa – 40-75 cm /17-34 in
- Binomial name: Lichanura trivirgata
- Adult Length: 40-75 cm /17-34 in
- Adult Weight: 400/450 grams.
- Lifespan: can reach 15-20 years in the wild andmay be expected to live 30 years or more in captivity
- Diet: mostly small mammals, sometimes lizards or small birds. (in captivity, hatchling usually start on fuzzy mice, and adults will take small adult mice)
- Enclosure size: 10 to 15-gallon (a 20 to 25-gallon vertical terrarium with the lid at the top to prevent escapes)
- Temperature requirements: a temperature gradient of 65 F at the cool end of the enclosure to 90 F at the warm end
Rosy Boas makes an excellent pet because of their manageable size, nice character and high tolerance to handling.
They have a mono-shaped body; the head and tail are blunt. This aids in confusing a predator of which way the head is.
Check out our care guide on the Rosy Boa for more!
6. Ribbon Snake – 40-90cm./ 16 to 35 in
- Binomial name: Thamnophis sauritus
- Adult Length: 40-90cm./ 16 to 35 inches
- Adult Weight: 100g.
- Diet: quite variable depending upon the availability, but in general, it consists of lizards, rats, frogs and toads, salamanders, fish, mollusks, such as snails and slugs, insects, etc.
- Enclosure size: 10 to 15-gallons
- Temperature requirements: temperature beneath the heat lamp should be in the 90s F while the rest of the tank is room temperature (about 80 F in the summer and 74 F in the winter).
Ribbon Snakes are non venomous and quite shy. Also, they come in many attractive color morphs! These qualities, together with its manageable size makes them good pet snakes.
Avoid overhandling: even if they are active, docile and reluctant to bite, they are also nervous snakes that don’t enjoy being handled.
Ribbon snakes are among the most slender garter snakes. Even their heads are narrower than other garter snakes They have long, thin stripes running down the length of its back. The lateral stripes on these snakes are thought to be very effective in confusing predators.
7. Garter Snake – 45-50cm / 18-20 in
- Scientific name: Thamnophis
- Adult Length: The smaller subspecies grow to just 18-20 inches / 45-50cm, the larger subspecies can grow up to 54 inches / 137cm or more.
- Adult Weight: 150-200g.
- Lifespan: A garter snake can live up to ten years, but records show that some garter snakes can live up to 17 years.
- Diet: mice, fish, earthworms, leeches, or slugs
- Enclosure size: 20-gallon (the lid at the top may be necessary to prevent escapes)
- Temperature requirements: Garter snakes need a basking area between 90-95 F for proper digestion. But basically, you need to check where your garter is from; this is essential to know what temperatures it requires.
Garter snakes are generally gentle and docile in nature, making them a good species of snake to keep as a pet.
Garters are delicate snakes and caution must be used when young children are present. Very young kids need to learn to not grab at the snake and, if being allowed to hold one, need to be taught not to squeeze.
Most garter snakes won’t bite, however, if feeling threatened they might spray a musk to ward off danger.
There are several garter snake species available, but most are fairly similar, differing only in terms of pattern and eating habits. Some prefer worms, others prefer fish, for example!
Check our Garter Snake Care Guide for more!
8. Kenyan Sand Boa – 50 cm / 20 in
- Binomial name: Eryx colubrinus
- Other names: East African Sand Boa
- Adult Length: 50 cm / 20” in (females are larger)
- Adult Weight: 70-100 grams.
- Lifespan: 20/30 years
- Diet: have strong appetites for live food when they are still babies and should be fed pinky mice, switching to thawed mice as their mature. As adults, males can be fed large hopper mice every 10 – 14 days and females a jumbo-sized mouse every week.
- Enclosure size: 10-gallon; it is a good idea to add some branches to the enclosure as they love to climb (some keepers suggest that a 20-gallon vertical terrarium with the lid at the top may be necessary to prevent escapes is even better)
- Temperature requirements: ambient temperature of approximately 80 F, with the basking spot being about 95 F. The temperature can fall to the mid-70s during the night
The Kenyan Sand Boa is a great snake that comes in various color morphs including albino, snow, paradox, tiger, striped, etc.
They are harmless to humans even if sometimes they do bite. However, their bite is hardly more than a scratch.
Check our Kenyan Sand Boa Care Guide for more!
9. Anthill Python Snake (also known as Pygmy Python Snake) – 50-55 cm/ 24-30 in
- Binomial name: Antaresia perthensis
- Adult Length: 24-30 in/50-55 cm
- Adult Weight: 200 grms and over
- Lifespan: 12 to 20 years in captivity
- Diet: In the wild, they feed on lizards and small mammals. In captivity, they do very well on a diet of frozen/thawed hopper mice or small adult mice.
- Enclosure size: 15-gallon
- Temperature requirements: the ambient temperature of the enclosure should be kept at about 80 F. However, use an under tank heating pad to create a hotspot of about 100 degrees F at one end of the enclosure.
The Anthill python is the smallest in the world and is named for the fact that wild specimens spend a lot of time in and around termite mounds in Australia.
A real beauty, this snake is relatively heavy-bodied and has leopard-like spots along its body.
The breeding and availability of Anthill Pythons seems to come in waves; either there is a lot out there for sale or none at all. If you decide to get one, you may have to wait and catch the wave when it’s on its way up.
10. Ball Python Snake – 110 -120 cm
- Binomial name: Python regius
- Alternative name: Royal Python
- Adult Length: 110 to 120 cm
- Adult Weight: 1,6 kg.
- Diet: they eat varying sizes of prey depending on how big they are. Smaller and younger snakes may eat large crickets, but should ideally be eating pinkies and fuzzies until they grow larger. Adult ball pythons will eat adult mice and rats when they get big enough
- Enclosure size: 30-40 gallons or larger. Preferable a solid glass-sided tank. To accommodate their shyness, provide a hide box at each end of the enclosure.
- Temperature requirements: The enclosure should be long enough to create the two separate temperature gradients (warm and cool)
The Ball Python Snake is the largest of this list. One of America’s favorites pet snakes, the Ball Python combines a manageable size with relaxed temperament and comes in a big variety of exciting color morphs.
However, you may face feeding problems with your Ball Python: therefore we suggest you ask for a feeding demonstration to make sure your new snake is readily taking pre-killed prey and eating well.
Ball pythons are somewhat notorious for having feeding problems.
Check out our Ball Python Care Guide for more!
Snakes are fascinating animals that in the last few years have been rising in popularity as pets even if they aren’t warm-and-fuzzy as a cat or dog.
Figures indicate that approximately 1,150,000 snakes are kept as pets in private homes in the United States (AVMA, 2012), and approximately 8,000 snakes are kept in American Zoological Association collections (AZA, 2018).
As seen along with this article, when it comes to space and manageability, snakes also make ideal pets, especially the smallest pet snakes.
One thing to keep in mind is that they interact with humans much differently than traditional pets do, and have unique requirements.
The above list briefly proposes 10 different small pet snakes. Whatever you choose, be sure to get familiar with its proper care, feeding, and behavioral characteristics.
Snakes are amazing pets but should only be cared for by those with the commitment and understanding to meet their needs.
Let us know what you think in the comments below!