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.

Eight California King Snake Morphs

California King Snakes (Lampropeltis g. californiae) are extremely popular pet snakes not only because they are very easy to care for and have pleasant personalities, but also because they are available in a seemingly endless variety of different morphs.

In this blog entry, we will describe and detail eight different Cal king snake morphs.

1. “Normal” California Kingsnake

popular california kingsnake morphs
Standard or normal California King Snake

Normal king snakes can exhibit a wide array of stripes, bands, speckles, and colorations. They can stay in the black and white color spectrum or roll into the brown and red spectrum depending on where in the country the king snake originates from.

normal california kingsnake - Lampropeltis californiae
Notice the perfectly shaped “T” on the top of this normal California King Snake’s head.

In banded king snakes, the lighter color forms bands around the snake’s body, like the one pictured in this series of photos, whereas in striped snakes, a stripe (or sometimes two) runs down the length of the top of the snake’s body.

normal cal kingsnake
Normal or regular California King Snake displaying no special breeding morph patterns or coloration. This particular snake is banded and not striped.

Even though “normal” California king snakes can be found in the wild, it’s still recommended to purchase a captive bred animal as you won’t run the risk of keeping an animal with parasites or health problems.

2. High Yellow Banana California Kingsnake

banana california kingsnake
Notice the pale yellow hue of this High Yellow Banana California King.

As its name suggests, the High Yellow Banana Cal King Snake has more of a yellowish main color than some of its paler morphed brethren.

banana kingsnake
This High Yellow Cal King is displaying a broken stripe pattern along it’s back.

Bananas can express anywhere from a 70% to 95% yellow color, meaning that they can be 75% to 95% yellow with very little black banding or striping, depending on the heritage of the animal.

3. Albino California Kingsnake morph

albino california kingsnake
This albino Cal King is showing off his bright red eyes.

Like any albino animal, albino Cal Kings lack the pigment known as melanin in their scales. This causes their eyes to appear red because the blood vessels are visible and their scales to appear pink in color because the dark pigment is missing.  As they age, albino Cal Kings’ pink scales will become white.

albino california kingsnake
This is a juvenile albino. Once it matures, the pink will become white.

4. Chocolate California Kingsnake morph

chocolate california kingsnake
Notice how the markings on this Chocolate morph Cal King are barely visible.

As you can see from these pictures, a Chocolate morph of the Cal king snake is a deep, rich brown in color. The one in these photos still possesses a bit of a pattern, but it is muddied and hard to make out. As the breeding on this morph gets purer, eventually the markings disappear altogether creating what is called a “Patternless Chocolate” morph.

chocolate california kingsnake
Chocolate Cal Kings are hypermelanistic.

The darker coloration on the chocolates is caused by hypermelanism, which is essentially the opposite of albinism. Instead of lacking dark pigment and turning pink, chocolates possess much more melanin in their scales and are therefore darker in coloration.

5. Lavender California Kingsnake morph

lavender california kingsnake
Notice the dark red eyes on this Lavender Cal King Snake.

A Lavender Cal king is a slight variation of an albino. It is also called a “T-Positive Albino” morph because it possesses less melanin (dark pigment) in its scales than a normal snake, but still lacks enough to produce dark red eyes and a brownish-pinkish scale color.

lavender california kingsnake
Due to lower amounts of melanin in their scales, Lavender morph Kings are a pale brown in color.

6. Reverse Stripe California Kingsnake morph

Reverse Stripe Kingsnake - Lampropeltis californiae
Classic pose for this Reverse-striped California kingsnake

When breeders attempt to mate Cal Kings to produce a reverse striped animal, the goal is to make a white animal with a black or brown stripe running down the back. This morph can not only possess a stripe, but often they have dots, dashes, and other spots or marks on their sides, like the one we have pictured.

reverese striped california kingsnake
Reverse striping produces a white animal with black or brown stripes.

7. Black and White Striped California Kingsnake

striped california kingsnake
Black and white striped Cal Kings have a white stripe or two down their backs.

Black and white striped Cal Kings are pretty accurately described by their morph name. As the photos show, these snakes express only black and white coloration. No yellow and no brown is present.

Black and White Striped King Snake

It should also be noted that instead of bands, black and white striped Cal Kings have a stripe or two running the length of their back.

8. High White California Kingsnake

high white california kingsnake
Gorgeous pure white and black coloration on this High White morph.

High Whites are known for the brilliant contrast of white against black pigment in the scales. Normal Cal Kings possess a tinge of yellow, but High Whites are a true white in color. If black markings are present at all, it will be around the head and the top of the tail and the black will be a very dark, “true” black. This is a very popular morph within the reptile industry.

It’s interesting to note that High White Cal Kings are also referred to by some as “Snow” California King Snakes.

california kingsnake collage
A collage of California King Snake morphs.

This list of Cal Kings morphs is by no means all inclusive. There are many other varieties and mixtures of morphs that create “designer” king snakes. We’ve just gone over the basics and hope that it is helpful to potential Cal King owners when choosing a pet king snake.

Backwater Reptiles currently offers many different morphs of California King Snakes for sale. If you know of one you don’t see on our website, email us and we’ll try to get it for you.