Snakes for Kids

Are you thinking of getting your child a pet snake? Are you unsure which species would do well with children? Well, look no further – this article was created specifically to list the top four species of pet snakes for kids.

1. Ball Python (Python regius)

Ball pythons are at the top of our list for a few reasons, but mainly because they have been captive bred for many generations and are essentially the most popular pet snakes on the market. Captive breeding produces snakes that are not only healthier and more beautiful, but far more docile as well. In fact, captive bred ball pythons rarely bite or strike.

Pet snake for kids
Ball pythons are readily available pet snakes with a long history of healthy captive breeding. We highly recommend them for kids.

Hatchling ball pythons are about 10 inches long and will mature into snakes that can be up to five feet long, although most will average three feet long. If properly cared for, your ball python can live up to 30 years.

In general, ball pythons are somewhat thick snakes with hefty bodies, despite their relatively small size. We think this is great for kids because children can  move quickly around them and the snake will not get upset. In fact, unless they are preparing to strike at feeding time, your  ball python’s movements should be slow and calculated.

2. Corn Snake (Elaphe g. guttata)

Like ball pythons, corn snakes are readily available at pet stores and through breeders. They have been bred long enough in captivity to be extremely healthy and hardy snakes that are born to be many different colors or morphs. If your child wants a purple, red, or even black and white snake, there’s a morph out there that will make him or her happy.

albino corn snake hatchling
This is an albino corn snake hatchling. This snake can grow to be five to six feet long if properly cared for.

Corn snakes are medium-sized snakes and will require a medium-sized enclosure once they are grown. They are small enough as hatchlings to be kept in a home as small as a shoe box, but once they do grow up, they are still a size that a child could handle them without being intimidated.

If you want to educate your child about reptile breeding, corn snakes can give great lessons on genealogy as well as reproductive habits of reptiles. They procreate easily in captivity and also make excellent classroom pets.

3. King Snake (Lampropeltis g. californiae)

King snakes are very common throughout the U.S. in the wild. However, because these snakes have been bred successfully in captivity for so long, we recommend purchasing one through a breeder since it will be healthier and friendlier.

Like corn snakes and ball pythons, king snakes are available in a seemingly endless number of morphs or color variations. Their patterns will vary greatly and you can obtain a snake with patterns and colors as common or rare as you’d like.

Normal CA king snake
This is a “normal” morph California king snake. It has not been bred to express any special coloring or patterns.

King snakes can grow rather large, although it will take many years for them to reach their full potential. Hatchlings will be eight to twelve inches long and adults can reach more than six feet in length, although three to four feet is a far more common size. A king snake’s lifespan can surpass twenty years!

Mature king snakes should be kept in a 20 gallon enclosure (at the least), but babies are perfectly content in a shoe box. Whatever type of home you provide your king snake, we highly recommend that it has a secure lid since king snakes can be escape artists.

4. Kenyan Sand Boa (Eryx c. loveridgei)

Kenyan San Boas are also known as East African Sand Boas, but both names refer to the same animal. These snakes are very round with heavy bodies and relatively small heads. They have extremely smooth scales and are slow-moving, which we think makes them wonderful snakes for children to handle.

In addition to being available in many morphs like all the other snakes on our list, Kenyan sand boas are small snakes with simple care requirements. Even the largest sand boa will not usually surpass two feet in length and their cage need not be larger than a ten gallon tank.

Kenyan sand boa
Kenyan sand boas are small snakes with simple care requirements.

You can also keep Kenyan sand boas communally, so long as two males are not housed in the same enclosure. In other words, two female boas cohabitating is fine, and a male and female boa will also do fine together.

5. Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis)

Garter snakes are great for kids because they’re harmless, a very manageable size, slow, and easy to keep and feed. Growing up a child in the Midwest, I used to catch “Garters” in the woods and on prairies with my good friend. The best place to find them was under a rotting log, tire, or plywood.

They usually only reach 24″-36″ or thereabouts, although once in a while they’re a little bigger. Garter snakes probably have the largest distribution of any snake in the United States, and are found in every single state except Alaska and Hawaii.

garter snake for kids
Garter snakes are a perennial favorite snake for children.

This species can comfortably be kept in a 10 or 20-gallon tank with a water dish, hide spot, and heat pad (although some believe heat is optional). They can have long lifespans.

These snakes are carnivores but can be fed crickets, nightcrawlers, slugs, amphibians, minnows, and baby mice (called “pinkies”).

One piece of trivia is that many people think these snakes are called “Gardner” snakes, but that’s incorrect. The correct word is “Garter.”

Snakes for kids – Conclusion

Each of the snakes on this list has very simple care requirements. All you really need to keep any of these species happy is a modest-sized enclosure, a simple heat source, and a water dish. Other cage accessories are optional.

We also feel that each of these snake species has a good history of captive breeding which makes them all healthy, tamer snake species overall. Over many years, we’ve also found that the above listed species are very hesitant to strike (if ever), which is another reason we consider them the absolute best pet snakes for kids.

If you’re interested in purchasing a snake for a child, we’ve got all of the above species listed on our snakes landing page.

Most Popular Corn Snake Morphs

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the number of available corn snake morphs nowadays?

All of them are hardy, selectively bred animals, but if you’re getting ready to purchase one of your own and you don’t know where to start, you might want to consider our list of the most popular corn snake morphs to help you out.

Most popular corn snake morphs
A collage of our top five corn snake morphs.

1. Normal Corn Snake

This morph is representative of the “classic” corn snake that you would actually be able to find in the wild, even though they are still captive bred animals.

Normal Corn Snake
This is a top view of a normal corn snake. It’s base color is a brownish-orange and it has dark brownish red blotches with black outlines on its back.

Honestly, there is still quite a lot of variation in the normals, whether that be in their coloration or markings. However, generally, normals are orange or brownish yellow with with large, red blotches down their backs that are ringed in black. Hatchlings are also duller in coloration than their adult counterparts.

2. Blood Red Corn Snake 

This morph is very brightly colored. They exhibit a bold, red hue with darker red patches along their backs. They will tend to lose the black outlines around the patches on their back, but this is not always the case.

This morph also loses the checkered pattern on their belly scales.

Blood Red Corn Snake
This hatchling is getting ready to shed, which is why his eyes look a bit grey.

3. Okeetee Corn Snake

This morph, which is also called Abbott’s Okeetee Corn Snake, are known for their thick, black borders on their back splotches as well as very vibrant coloration in general. Because these dark black borders boldly mark and separate the main scale color from the splotches, many hobbyists consider Okeetees to be an “ideal” representation of the corn snake.

Okeetee Morph Corn Snake
This is a hatchling Okeetee morph corn snake. They start out very small but can grow up to 5.5 feet in length.

Fun fact: This morph got its name from the Okeetee Hunt Club in Jasper County, South Carolina. This is the area of the U.S. where the snake’s wild breeding stock originated from.

Hatchling Okeetee Corn Snake
The Okeetee morph corn snake is bred to have very dark black rings around the snake’s back markings.

4. Anerythristic Corn Snake

Anerythristic corn snakes lack all red pigment, which means that their scales are combinations of white, black, and grey with some hints of brown. Some anerys also will develop yellowing around the jawline.

Anery Corn Snake
There is no red or pink pigment present in this anerythristic morph corn snake.

5. Hypomelanistic Corn Snake

This morph is most easily explained by going into the etymology of the morph’s name itself. “Hypo” means a lack of something, while “melanin” is the pigment in hair, skin, scales, etcetera that causes dark or black coloration. Therefore, a hypomelanistic corn snake would lack dark or black pigment.

Hypo Corn Snake
Notice how this hypomelanistic corn snake has no black outlines on its back markings.

This is evident when you see a hypo corn snake as it’s back blotches that are normally outlined in black will lack this definitive outline.

6. Albino Corn Snake

Albino animals lack melanin, which is the pigment responsible for producing dark coloration in animals’ skin, hair, nails, scales, etc.

Amelanistic Corn Snake
Albino corn snakes like this one, will have red eyes and lack dark pigment.

Albinism in corn snakes means that the animal will be any combination of pink, orange, white, red, or yellow. The only thing that is certain is that the snake will not have any dark brown or black pigmentation.

Side note: This morph of corn snake is also referred to as “amelanistic” due to the compete lack of melanin that is characteristic of albinism.

Conclusion

All corn snakes make great pet snakes due to their docile demeanor, manageable size, and simple care requirements. Potential corn snake owners do have a lot of choice when it comes to coloration and markings due to the vast number of morphs available today. Backwater Reptiles has many corn snake morphs for sale, but our top five morphs are listed above.