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Don't worry too much. Most snakes are harmless and beneficial to humans. Nonvenomous or harmless snake species outnumber venomous (poisonous) snakes by more than 10 to 1 in Florida, and the ratio is even bigger elsewhere in the United States. Most of the snakes you will see are not harmful and can simply be left alone unless you are very afraid of snakes and want them removed. However, if you remove that king snake or black racer or indigo snake from your backyard, you actually increase your chances of a venomous snake moving in. Those snakes (and some others) eat venomous snakes, and you are lucky indeed to have one of these scaly guardians living on your property. It is illegal to touch or pick up an indigo snake unless you have a special permit to rescue and relocate these animals. It is usually best to leave harmless snakes alone.
If you are very afraid of snakes and want them removed anyway, a service called Snake Removal has field herpetologists in most states of the US, and can be reached at 1-800-339-9470.
Snakes are becoming popular pets, but many first-timers have questions about what species they should get. With hundreds of snake species in the pet trade, the choice can be difficult. Have a little information before going shopping can be helpful in picking a snake that will make a terrific pet.
Getting a pet snake to eat can be a challenge. Beginners should look for good feeders. The cage size can be another important factor in choosing a pet snake. The enclosure should be 1.5 times the length of the animal. The bigger then snake, the bigger the cage. Large enclosures can be quite expensive. The snake will try to escape. Make sure the lid or door is secure at all times.
Corn snakes are the absolute best choice. While some hobbyists find these little beauties mundane, they are the easiest snakes to keep, and even breed. Corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus guttatus) also known as red rat snakes, actually come in a huge variety of colors and patterns. There are over 50 morphs available, which is what snake breeders call alternate colors and patterns. Everything from snow corns, completely white corn snakes, to vibrantly colored blood reds, are sold nationwide.
The most important thing about corn snakes is that they are easily handled. Another great thing about them is that they are excellent feeders. They will often take frozen-thawed prey items, healthier for the snake than live, on their very first feeding. Corn snakes usually peak out about 4.5 ft. in length and about 1-1.5 inches wide. Lastly, corn snakes are inexpensive. They range from about $20-$100, most on the lower end of the scale.
The California kingsnake (Lampropeltis getulus californiae) is another excellent choice. While skittish as hatchlings, these snakes calm down as they grow. They stay a bit smaller than corn snakes in width and length, so they can be housed in a little smaller enclosure.
There are a lot of kingsnakes in the pet trade, but the California kingsnake is one of the most inexpensive and readily available. There are a few morphs on the market including albinos, striped and banana phase, which is a yellowish snake with brown streaks looking like a ripe banana. The price for these animals is between $25-$100, most morphs at the lower end of the range.
For beginners looking for a little more of a challenge, the ball python (Python regius) is the answer. Also known as royal pythons, these snakes are extremely popular. They have a huge range of prices, depending on color, that can be anywhere from $15 up into the thousands. They are shy and generally docile, getting their name because they roll up into a ball when they are afraid. Some people have a hard time getting them to eat, especially in the winter months.
Ball pythons stay fairly small. A huge female would be about 5 ft., and a male more likely to be 3 ft. However, they have much heavier bodies than corn snakes or kingsnakes, and they can be a few inches wide. They are nocturnal, active at night, and should be fed after dark.
Do your homework before you get any pet, especially a snake. Getting a snake based on looks alone can be a huge mistake. Learn about the species beforehand so that you know what to expect from the animal. You will be happier in the long run and your entire snake-keeping experience will be a good one.