- Less than 7% of snakes in the world have the potential to cause harm, and of those, most are not living near the average human.
- There are plenty of snakes that don’t generally bite (or the bite is very trivial), are easy to handle, and whose size is not intimidating.
- Corn snakes are some of the safest on the planet, being very friendly in nature, easy to handle, small in size, and beautiful to look at.
- Ball pythons move slowly, possess a calm demeanor, and are even considered cuddly.
Snakes carry a stigma with them wherever they go. For the “non-hobbyists,” as we’ll call them, snakes are usually met with screams of terror and fear for life. In reality, these beautiful creatures can make some truly amazing pets. If you are looking to get a snake but are still a bit worried, or live with someone else who is, rest assured that there are perfectly safe snakes for you. This article will give a list of our top 6 safest snakes to keep as pets. Let’s get started!
Can A Snake Be Safe?
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of snakes are totally harmless. Of the over 3,000 species of snakes that live on the earth, only a small percentage (less than 7%) have the potential to cause harm. Of those snakes, most don’t live anywhere near the average human.
When we narrow the scope even further to pet snakes, the percentage becomes smaller. In short, normal people don’t keep highly dangerous snakes in their homes. Almost all pet snakes are harmless, and most of them can be handled without fear.
What Makes A Snake Safe?
While our math may not be reassuring to some, let’s go over some of the things that qualify a snake to be safe.
First and foremost is venom. There are venomous snakes in the world (rattlesnakes, copperheads, and vipers), but they aren’t kept as pets. Many states outright ban them, while others have strict rules in place. If a snake isn’t venomous, then the only other thing you have to worry about is…
Size! If a snake is massive, it could hurt you. However, considering just how large a snake would have to be to harm you, it provides some perspective. To seriously injure or kill a human, a snake would likely have to be upwards of 15-20 feet with a diameter of at least a foot or two. In short, it would take a 600 lb anaconda from the jungle to threaten an adult human based on size alone.
Still, it’s important to know that all snakes can bite (just like all cats, dogs, and humans). However, it doesn’t mean that all snake bites hurt. For instance, if a corn snake nips at you, you would only know if you happened to be looking at it when it happened. Otherwise, you would likely miss that it even happened at all.
The Safest Pet Snake Breeds
For our list, we decided to examine the snakes that have a few common characteristics:
- they are reluctant to bite
- if they bite, it is incredibly trivial
- they are easy and safe to handle, even for beginners
- their size isn’t intimidating.
Let’s go over some of our top picks for the safest pet snakes. Keep in mind that there are a lot more out there, but this list is a great start!
Corn snakes may just be the safest pet snakes in the world. These snakes are famous for their calm demeanor, wide availability, small size, and incredible beauty.
Part of what makes these snakes so safe is their relaxed nature. Since they have been bred for so long, breeders have been selecting workable and docile snake genetics for generations (the same thing we did with wolves to make dogs). They are really easy to handle and aren’t a bitey snake. Even if they hit you with a strike, it would feel like a small pinch and wouldn’t draw blood.
A bonus for corn snakes is that they are often so beautiful that people forget to be scared!
Ball pythons are famous for their calm demeanor, slow movements, and affinity to being held. One might even call the ball python “cuddly.” When a science popularizer goes to a school or event, you can pretty much guarantee he is going to have a ball python on his wrist. These snakes are gentle, not bitey, and they couldn’t seriously harm a human if they tried.
The rubber boa is a native North American snake that is famous for its reluctance to bite. In fact, rubber boas are often used in therapy programs for people who are really afraid of snakes.
Part of what makes rubber boas so cute is that they are incredibly friendly. They will nose up to a human or predator in the wild simply because they are curious. Sadly, this often gets them killed in the wild but makes them perfect for captivity.
Kenyan Sand Boas
One of the more mental aspects of Kenyan sand boas is their stunted faces, essentially, “something this cute can’t be dangerous.” They are short snakes that don’t grow large, are reluctant to strike (and can’t hurt you if they do), and don’t mind being handled at all. These are great snakes for people afraid of snakes.
The rosy boa is another North American native closely related to the Kenyan sand boa. It has a similar temperament but different colors and patterns to the Kenyan sand boa. Many rosy boas are light in color with three thin rose or salmon colored stripes that run down their backs. They are typically found in California and Arizona
Rosy boas are inexpensive, can be found on most breeder websites, and don’t mind being handled. Additionally, they don’t bite, and if they did, they couldn’t hurt you with how small they are.
California kingsnakes are another great snake for anyone who doesn’t want to get bit. They are social snakes that don’t mind being handled by humans, with some even preferring it!
These snakes are non-venomous (like all snakes on our list) and only grow to be 3-4 feet long at max. Additionally, their colorations are beautiful, and they make great snakes for beginners. Even your kids will be safe with them, and they are among the top five recommendations for snakes that make great pets.
Summary of the 6 Safest Snakes to Keep
Here’s a review of the 6 snakes you can rest assured you’ll be safe around:
|1||Corn Snake||Calm demeanor/small size/easy to handle/beautiful|
|2||Ball Python||Gentle & calm/not bitey/slow moving|
|3||Rubber Boa||Reluctant to bite/used in therapy programs/cute & friendly|
|4||Kenyan Sand Boa||Cute/reluctant to strike/don’t grow large|
|5||Rosy Boa||Don’t bite/don’t mind being handled/like Kenyan sand boa w/different markings|
|6||California Kingsnake||Social snakes/enjoy handling/only grow 3-4 ft long/beautiful colors|
Keep reading! We think you’ll like these other pages about snakes and other amazing animals.
- What Snakes Live in Europe and Which is the Largest?
- Egg-Eating Snakes: The Complete Story
- 10 Snakes in Australia
- 10 Incredible King Cobra Facts (No Other Snake Does #7!)
- How Far Can Spitting Cobras Shoot their Venom?
Discover the "Monster" Snake 5X Bigger than an Anaconda
Every day A-Z Animals sends out some of the most incredible facts in the world from our free newsletter. Want to discover the 10 most beautiful snakes in the world, a "snake island" where you're never more than 3 feet from danger, or a "monster" snake 5X larger than an anaconda? Then sign up right now and you'll start receiving our daily newsletter absolutely free.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.