What It’s Really Like Owning a Snake

I have always wanted to own a snake but always wondered what it was really like. So I decided to do the research and figure out what it is really like. 

What is it really like owning a snake? Reactions to owning a snake differ from person to person. While some find the experience dull or uneventful, others even wind up disliking snakes as a result of bad experiences, but most snake owners are thoroughly satisfied in caring for a snake and would highly recommend them as pets.

Owning a snake can be an adventure, but there is a lot of debate that goes on as to why some have a positive experience in owning a snake, while others a negative one. Let’s explore some of the reasons that may influence your own snake-owning story.

Why Owning a Snake May Be a Great Experience

Snakes. You have seen them on TV. You have read about them in all of your favorite snake fan-fiction books. You are even a frequent browser of snakeowner.com, (come on, all the cool kids are doing it) but you have never actually owned a pet snake! 

In this section, we will explore some of the common reasons people have good experiences with pets. Namely:

  1. Cuteness
  2. Friendliness, and
  3. Pets provide self worth through a sense of responsibility.

Let’s go ahead and start by examining snakes and cuteness.

Snakes and Cuteness

Why does anybody get any pet? It may be something you have never thought about before. It may be that deep down we all fear being alone. Perhaps, at our center, we fear the person we so desperately try to conceal behind layers of false personalities. Indeed, our true selves. Are we truly a good person?

Does a pet lend us the idealistic opportunity to distract ourselves from confronting that which we most fear, our own humanity? Yes, maybe. Or maybe pets are just really cute! Dogs are adorable. Personally, I love how my cat sits on top of my hand and licks my face anytime that I try to type something important. But what about snakes?

Snakes, to some people, can be cute as well. Small things are objectively cute. For example, you may have noticed that the phrase, “Look at the cute little puppy!” is frequently heard around dogs. Are snakes small enough to be cute?

Your typical pet snake (corn snake, ball python, rosy boa, etc.) will usually grow no more than 5 feet long. That is pretty small, especially when considering that St. Bernards can easily stand 5 feet tall, grow to over 200 pounds, and are still considered cute. If mere size is a factor in cuteness, then I would say snakes slither pass the mark. Their size is cute.

Another contributing factor to cuteness would, of course, be looks. This is a little harder to define. The “looks” that I am describing is that which makes something aesthetically pleasing. Think of it almost in an architectural way. Is the Sistine chapel impressive to look at? How, about your typical Alabama trailer home? You get the idea. So how do snakes stack up in the looks department?

Snakes come in an impressive array of shades and colors. Their scales can be colored anywhere from glistening emerald greens, to deep azure blues, or even pale reds and murky browns. Personally, I could look at different snake scale patterns all day.

One of the truly great pleasures of owning a snake is viewing it recently after it has recently shed its old skin. The way the light reflects off the new scales is beautiful. 

I think its hard to argue that snakes are not aesthetically impressive. Another point goes to the snakes.

Next, a definition of cuteness would not be complete if it didn’t include fluffiness. Fluffiness is the quality that makes you want to pick something up and squeeze it till it pops. Rabbits are a great example of this quality. Who doesn’t, upon seeing a fat hairy bunny, say, “Ohmagosh! I want to squeeze it till I die!” If you are sane, you have said this before.

Sadly, are snake friends are somewhat lacking in this category. Their naturally hairless bodies make them considerably less hug-able. And given their propensity to “hug” their pray right before eating them, it is no wonder why some don’t want to go anywhere near snakes. Sorry snakes, you are just not the cuddliest.

A lot of other factors go into judging whether or not an animal is cute or not. We haven’t even mentioned licking or cute lil‘ sounds, but that will have to come some other day. For now, I would encourage you that are repulsed by snakes to take a closer look.

You may not find them “cute” per say, but they are impressive creatures. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Snakes deserve to be appreciated for their unique looks.

Snakes and Friendliness

What makes someone a good friend? I once heard that a friend is someone who won’t steal your shoes while you’re sleeping. This would make snakes an excellent friend indeed, as they have little use for sneakers. That is unless they are looking for a nice place to sleep, of course. No, I think the definition of friendship is a bit more nuanced.

We can better understand friendship if we examine why it is that most people crave the companionship of a dog. Dogs are loyal. They will follow you anywhere you go if you stop and scratch their ears for five minutes. They are always happy to see you.

After coming home from a hard day at the office, it’s nice to know that at least Mr. Doggy-Face cares for you, as evidenced by his shower of slobbery kisses. Most of all, dogs will love you unconditionally. Are snakes at all the same?

I mean… not really. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a snake affectionately tackle their owner to the ground before. And when a snake put his tongue on you, it is because he judging whether or not you will make a tasty snack, but undivided attention may not always be the best thing.

I have heard it said that those that like dogs are more like cats, and those that like cats are more like dogs. Think of it. The best reason to own a cat is so you can annoy him while he is trying to take a nap. You shower him with undivided attention. And what does a dog do to you?

He gives you undivided attention while you are trying to take a nap. If you are one that likes to give affection rather than receive it, than a snake may be the pet for you. He may not climb into your bed at night like your dog (let’s be honest. That would scare the bejeebers out of you if it did), but your snake always has a look on his face that says, “Hey man. You are my buddy.” Maybe that is all that you need. That may be all that you want.

In conclusion, different types of people need different levels of attention. If you are the type of person that doesn’t want a lot of attention, then a snake would make a great pet.

Snakes and Your Own Self-Worth

Just about every kid in the world wants a pet at some point or another, but parents always seem staunchly opposed to the idea. The first thing a parent will say when a child asks for a pet is (read this next part in your best, deepest dad voice) “Now son/daughter, a pet is a lot of responsibility. Are you ready to handle that?” Most kids eagerly nod their heads yes. And that is not a bad thing.

Owning a pet can give you a lot of sense of purpose. Caring for the life of another creature can teach empathy, and helps you create awareness for the different needs of others. It also can help us to understand that even though we look different, we may be more similar than we think.

So, can owning a snake help fill the need for responsibility? Why yes it can! And it may be an even easier way for a child, than a dog or a cat would be. Now don’t get me wrong. Owning a snake can be a lot of work, but snakes often require less work than, say a dog or a cat.

Dogs and cats need to be fed on a daily bases. They tend to make a mess of things when they get bored. I had a cat that loved to tear up the sofa. We bought him plenty of toys, but the sofa seemed to be his favorite. He would also wait on top of our couch and claw at anybody who would walk by. I doubt that you will see a snake do that.

Snakes generally only eat about two times a week and seldom, if ever, need to be taken out of their cages. The only reason to let them out for some exercise is to show off how cool he is to your neighbors.  But don’t let the lack of attention needed fool you.

While it is true, that snakes are generally loners that are content to do their own thing, I’m sure they appreciate all the tasty mice you give them. Not to mention all the time you will spend cleaning out their enclosures, and making sure that they live in the perfect temperature.

Taking care of a snake generally takes less time than caring for a dog or a cat, but can give you the same level of satisfaction.

Owning a Snake is a Really Great Experience

To conclude this section, let’s take a quick recap.

One, snakes may not be your traditional Walmart variety cute, but they are impressive creatures that should be admired for their unique beauty. Two, snakes are not friendly the way a dog is friendly, but that may not be a bad thing. For those that want a more easy going pet, a snakes cool headed type of love may be exactly what you are looking for.

Finally, caring for a snake may be a little more low-key than caring for a dog or a cat, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad experience. Looking after one of these little guys can be rewarding. All the good feelings of loving a dog, with a lot less hassle.

So, what is it really like owning a snake? Is it a positive experience? Well, a lot of that depends on your own personal preference. If you are the type of person that likes snakes, then you will probably enjoy owning one. If you think snakes are scary and gross, then having a snake share a room with you might not be the best idea.

Why Owning a Snake May Be a Poor Experience

Now a small caveat into why owning a snake may be a poor experience. The other day I wrote an article as to why snakes make for the worst pets. I encourage you to look it up after if you are interested, but I will sum up some of the main ideas here.

  • Snakes can be dangerous. They carry diseases like salmonella that can spread to humans and cause severe health problems. On top of that, large snakes, like anacondas, could attack you, one of your other pets, or even a member of your family. These attacks are rare, but they do happen. Be cautious, and do your research before you buy a snake.
  • The lack of affection that snakes show really rubs some people the wrong way. I said it earlier in the article, your snake will not jump up and down when you walk into the room. This really makes some people feel lousy. I have read stories of some people who feel like mindless feeding machines to their snakes. Don’t expect a lot of attention from your snake. That is not the way they are.
  • Finally, snakes do bite. Not often, and your pet snake will probably not be venomous so it won’t seriously hurt you, but it will hurt. That turns a lot of people off from snakes, but I would speculate that bites from pet snakes happen way less than a bite from other pets. Have you ever had a hamster as a pet for example? Those guys will bite you any time you stick your hand into their cage. And all you wanted to do was stick them in their ball and watch them roll around. How rude!

Owning a snake is not that different than owning any other pet. Some people find owning a snake a pain, but, then again, some people don’t like their pet dogs either. In reality, owning a pet snake is whatever you would like it to be.

If you have a good attitude, then you will probably enjoy yourself. If you don’t like snakes, then you probably will have a crummy time. It is that simple.

Related Questions

What is the cutest snake? A lot of fierce internet debate out there on this question. It is all subjective. I personally think that ball pythons are to die for, but I saw a picture of a corn snake wearing a hat once that just melted my heart. Find out what your own preferences are.

What is the best pet snake? Right now, the ball python is definitely the most popular snake. These snakes have incredible longevity, some living more than 30 years in captivity, which makes them excellent companions. Corn snakes are excellent beginner snakes as well. I would steer you away from rosy boas. They are often recommended as beginner snakes, but their proclivity to escape makes them difficult.

How can I choose the best snake for me? Before even buying a snake you need to be thinking long term. Remember, some of these guys can easily live for 20 years. Make sure you are really up to the task. Other than having a firm commitment to care for your snake the rest is completely up to your personal preferences. I would recommend reading online reviews of people’s experiences with a specific breed of snake. It is also a good idea to attend a local reptile show or breeders convention to check out a snake first hand before committing to buying one.

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