Ball pythons are one of the most widely recommended pet snake options for novices. These beginner-friendly snakes allow new reptile owners to get accustomed to feeding, socializing, and caring for cold-blooded creatures. Once these basics have been mastered, an entire world of exotic reptile pets opens up. But with there being thousands of different kinds of snakes, it can be difficult to decide which species to choose next. Here are some of the best pet snakes to get after a ball python:
5 Great Intermediate Pet Snake Options
Ball pythons are moderately-sized snakes with calm, non-aggressive natures and low-maintenance care needs. As such, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew by choosing a challenging species right off the bat. These intermediate snake options are just as pleasant to care for as beginner snakes but may require a bit more research and preparation for proper care.
On paper, the Western hognose (also known as the plains hognose) seems just as easy to care for as a ball python. Docile and small, the largest this species gets is around 3 feet in length. However, one notable difference that makes them slightly more challenging is that they can be a bit more challenging to feed. In the wild, these cute snakes typically feed on toads rather than the typical rodent. As such, it can take training (and lots of patience) to get them to eat feeder mice.
In addition to being a pickier feeder than a ball python, hognose snakes can get stressed out a bit more easily by too much human interaction. Once the initial novelty of snake ownership has passed, the intermediate-level owner will know how to appreciate their snake while still giving it some space.
African Egg-Eating Snake
Originating from the sub-Saharan African desert (same as ball pythons) these snakes have care requirements that are just as easy to maintain. African egg-eating snakes like warm and dry conditions, allowing their owners to do without the fuss of maintaining particular humidity levels. They are small and slender-bodied, rarely exceeding 3 feet in length, which makes them quite manageable.
These soft-scaled viper impersonators might look dangerous, but being non venomous, these snakes are completely harmless. Why don’t they have fangs? As their name implies, this species’ diet consists solely of whole eggs. This is a major appeal factor as there are no rodents to deal with or coaxing them to eat. Simply place appropriately sized eggs in their enclosure and remove the leftover eggshell. The difficulty of caring for these snakes, however, lies in the ‘appropriately sized’ part. For these small snakes, they might be able to handle a small chicken egg, but in most cases, you will likely need to provide eggs from small game hens like quails, which can be difficult to find and expensive.
Boa Constrictor (Red-Tailed Boas)
If you enjoyed the heft of a medium-bodied python, the boa constrictor imperator is a great option. These gentle giants are calm and non-aggressive, with a similar temperament to that of the friendly ball python. Similarly, they are great eaters and easy to feed. For adult snakes, large rodents such as rabbits and guinea pigs will keep them satisfied for 3-4 weeks at a time.
The greatest challenges of owning a boa constrictor are naturally, accommodating their size. Additionally, they are partially arboreal and like having things to climb so it’s ideal that their tank is long as well as having vertical space. Despite this, boa constrictors are popular and fairly easy to find in pet stores.
Brazilian Boas (aka. Rainbow Boas)
Despite their name, these popular snakes are found throughout the tropics of South America, Central America, and Mexico. These snakes are considered to be one of the most beautiful pet snake species, featuring glossy, iridescent scales that create a—you guessed it—rainbow effect. They are similar in size to the ball python, ranging between 4-6 feet and having a medium-sized body.
With regular handling, Brazilian boas can have a similarly docile temperament to that of the ball python. One of the reasons why this snake is better suited towards intermittent snake-owners is that it can take a bit of work to get to this point. The juveniles can be shy of people and somewhat nippy, which is why they require a patient (and experienced) hand.
Wild-caught specimens of this species can be a bit of a handful, but captive-born blood pythons are hearty, well-behaved snakes with a good temperament. They’re great-sized snakes, slightly larger than that of a ball python, and are nearly as low-maintenance when it comes to their enclosure setups.
The best way to describe them is as an “in-between” snake. They like their homes to be not too hot, not too cold; not too dry, not too humid. Sounds simple, but finding this delicate balance can be a bit tricky to someone used to the straightforward requirements of a beginner snake. Additionally, dealing with humidity levels for the first time can be a challenging aspect that requires different sets of equipment. Fortunately, these snakes are quite forgiving and can handle if it takes their owner a few tries to fine-tune their environment.
Where To Find Your Next Pet Snake
Once you’ve mastered the basics of snake ownership, the next tier of intermediate snakes will give you an opportunity to develop your knowledge even further. You’ll get to tinker with humidity, arboreal enclosures, different food sources, and handling snakes of larger statures. Many of these intermediate-level snakes are fairly common. Though they may not be available in mainstream pet stores that carry the most common snake options, online reptile shops are very likely to have these and other snakes for sale.
However, buying a different snake species isn’t the only way to move onto the more advanced aspects of snake ownership. Many who successfully raise their first ball python try their hand at breeding them. This endeavor is challenging, but the heartiness of this species makes this a task that snake enthusiasts with even just a little experience can accomplish.