For some people, pets can make a house a home. They can quickly become part of the family. But, one thing we don’t want our pets to bring into the house is bad smells!
A stinky pet can be a big turn-off. We all know that dogs and cats can be smelly, but what about pet snakes? Luckily, compared to other pets, snakes aren’t the stinkiest animals!
Today, we’ll talk about pet snakes that don’t smell bad.
There are many snakes that don’t smell bad. Since snakes only defecate a few times a week, they’re very easy to clean up after. Colubrids are rumored to have the stinkiest poop, while snakes like ball pythons and rosy boas will be the best-smelling pet snakes to go for!
Let’s start off with determining whether or not snakes really smell at all and what might make them smell bad.
Do Pet Snakes Smell Bad?
As far as animals go, snakes may be one of the least smelly pet possibilities!
Snakes are different from many other pets because of their scales. Snake scales are hard and nonabsorbent. They feel soft and smooth to the touch and won’t get soaked. Since scales are so tough, they won’t hold onto things like smells. This of course is very different from a pet like a dog. Dogs have fur that can trap dirt, poop, and all sorts of smells. Even bird feathers can get stinky if they don’t keep themselves clean.
So, snakes aren’t smelly on their own, but there are some things that snakes do that can smell a bit… weird!
Why Do Pet Snakes Smell Bad?
Snakes’ bodies don’t smell at all. On the other hand, some things that come with pet snakes smell. And, if you’re not used to reptile smells, these things could come as a big surprise!
Reason 1: Their Feces
Obviously, one of the smelliest things about any animal is going to be its feces.
Snake poop just smells weird. There’s no easy way to describe it. Even though snake poop smells totally different than dog poop, it still smells.
One huge plus about snake poop is that you’ll encounter it much less often than dog poop. While most dogs poop 1-2 times a day, snakes only poop 1-2 times per week. If you’re on top of your cleaning, you should be able to get the poop out of their enclosure quickly. Then, you won’t face any more feces for a few days at least.
Reason 2: The Food They Eat
Another thing that can be stinky about a pet snake is its food.
For the most part, snakes are carnivores. They’ll either eat live food or frozen and thawed food.
For snakes that eat live food, you’ll be faced with some of the smells of their prey. If you’re feeding out live mice, expect to have a lingering mouse smell around the house. And if you didn’t know, mice are smelly!
Not all snakes eat live food. African egg-eating snakes are pets that only eat eggs. You won’t need to worry about weird food smells with those snakes! But, if you feed your snake frozen and thawed prey, you still might notice some strange odors.
The best thing you can do to keep food smells at a low level is to remove food that your snake doesn’t eat right away.
Reason 3: Musking Behavior
Musk is a defense mechanism that snakes use to keep predators away. When threatened, many snakes will emit a foul-smelling musk. Musk is a natural by-product of a snake’s digestive system and has a very distinctive smell. Snakes in captivity will also musk when they feel stressed, even though they’re not fighting away a predator.
Luckily, baby snakes are way more prone to musking than adult snakes. Young snakes don’t have as much control over their musk and will let it loose more easily. Adult snakes, especially in captivity won’t often musk. Some species of snakes are also more prone to musking than others. Garter snakes are small snakes that usually will musk more often than other, larger snakes.
Reason 5: Colubrids Smell the Worst
Allegedly, one group of snakes, in particular, smells the worst! Colubrids are one of the largest families of snakes and contain just shy of 250 species. Most colubrids are nonvenomous and make fantastic pets. Corn snakes, garter snakes, and king snakes are all colubrids.
It’s rumored that colubrids have smellier feces than other families of snakes. Luckily, feces is one of the easiest things to clean up as a snake owner and this fact shouldn’t play a large part in your decision of which snake is best for you.
10 Pet Snakes That Don’t Smell Bad
Now let’s go over some of the most popular snakes that are the least stinky! Each of these snakes made our list for a different reason. As we go through our options, don’t forget that certain things will make pets stinkier, like musk and food choice!
These 10 snakes are all species that are way less likely to musk than others and should have less smelly feces.
1. Common Boa
Common boa constrictors are great snakes that are often kept as pets. These boas are large and fairly easy to handle. Boa constrictors come in a wide variety of morphs and are considered to be very beautiful.
Adults of these species only need to eat once about every 1-2 weeks. This means that the odors from carcasses will be at a minimum. Plus, your boa will only defecate right after they eat, so you’ll only need to smell feces every 1-2 weeks as well!
2. Ball Python
Ball Pythons are another great species of pet snake that don’t smell.
Ball pythons make great pet snakes for a variety of reasons. On top of their lack of odor, ball pythons may be one of the most handleable snake species. Although these snakes can get pretty big, their method of attack is constriction. Luckily, humans are too big for a ball python to consider constricting.
3. Rosy Boa
Rosy boas are one of the smaller pet snake species you can find! Full-grown, these snakes don’t get longer than three feet. Because of their smaller size, they eat smaller food items and defecate less overall.
Rosy boas are beautiful snakes that have an iridescent sheen to them. Rosy boas are usually calm and docile, plus, they’re easy to keep for beginners!
4. Reticulated Python
Reticulated pythons are easily the largest snakes on our list today. These giant animals are kept as pets exclusively by advanced reptile keepers. While they aren’t always aggressive, their bites and constrictions can cause serious wounds to their owners.
Because these snakes are so large, they might only need to eat about once every other week. In this regard, these snakes aren’t smelly at all. Since they only eat every other week, you’ll only have to deal with feces about 2 times a month!
5. Amazon Tree Boa
Amazon tree boas are beautiful green snakes that originated in Central America. These snakes spend most of their time up in the trees but will come down to the ground to hunt occasionally. While these boas definitely aren’t stinky, they’re also not easy to keep.
Amazon tree boas aren’t great pets for beginners for two reasons First of all, these snakes can be defensive and aggressive. While they won’t musk they may strike at their owners. Plus, feeding these snakes can be tricky and require patience and experience.
6. Burmese Python
Burmese pythons are another species of snake that doesn’t use musk defensively and don’t have especially stinky feces. They’re not a colubrid and only eat about once a week when fully grown.
Burmese pythons are notoriously aggressive eaters. If you decide to become an owner of one of these snakes, you’ll need to handle them regularly. Because of their feeding habits, you don’t want one of these snakes to associate you too closely with food.
7. Kenyan Sand Boa
Kenyan sand boas are another great snake species for beginner reptile keepers. These boas are calm and hardy. As long as you keep their enclosure warm and dry, they’ll likely thrive. As adults, these boas eat about once a week.
Since you need to keep them in the sand, clean-up might not be easy, so be ready to change your substrate regularly. These snakes spend most of their time burrowed underground, so don’t expect your sand boa to be a super active pet.
8. California Kingsnake
California king snakes are nonvenomous colubrids that are native to the U.S. Even though these pet snakes are colubrids, they’re notoriously non-stinky. You won’t hear owners complaining about the smell of these snakes.
Additionally, California king snakes are coral snakes but aren’t dangerous to humans. Calfornia king snakes eat a variety of food items and like to be fed smaller meals. Though this may mean you’ll have to clean up after your pet more often, it also means that you won’t suffer from the smells of large prey animals.
9. Brazilian Rainbow Boa
Brazilian rainbow boas are by far the prettiest of all rainbow boas. These orange snakes have beautiful dark blue patterns running along their entire bodies. Brazilian rainbow boas max out at about 6 feet in length, so while they aren’t the biggest snakes, be prepared to provide large food items and clean up large poops.
Brazilian rainbow boas might be a great choice for intermediate reptile owners. They’re not as docile as some boas but can be handled with care.
10. African Egg Eating Snake
The reason why the African egg-eating snake made our list, is because of what they eat!
These snakes are an anomaly in the reptile world. If you couldn’t tell by their name, these snakes only eat eggs. Their diet alone helps to reduce any smells you might find with these snakes. Plus, this is one of the few snake species you’ll never have to think about providing live food for.
Are Corn Snakes the Smelliest Snakes?
If there are one species of snake you might want to avoid for smell purposes, it’s a corn snake.
Corn snakes are one species of snakes that utilize their musk heavily to deter predators. When threatened, a corn snake’s first line of defense is to musk. So, if your snake feels stressed at all while in captivity, you may have to deal with masking. Plus, corn snake poop is rumored to stink, and can make an entire room smell in just a few minutes!
Corn snakes are amazing pets, but if you’re sensitive to smells, they’re probably the worst choice for you.
Can Substrate Make a Difference?
One of the things that can make a big difference in how much your pet snake smells is the bedding that you use!
There are endless choices for which bedding you can choose to use for your pet snake. Bedding or substrate is the thing that you will line the bottom of your pet’s enclosure with. Substrates can be anything from newspaper to coconut fiber substrates.
Something like a newspaper is incredibly cheap and clean. You can change the liner as often as needed and you don’t need to pay much to replace the newspaper. If you use substrate, you’ll need to remove quite a bit of it every time your snake defecates. Of course, the type of bedding you choose will depend entirely on your snake’s needs and your resources.
Changing bedding is important regardless of whether or not it’s dirty. Old bedding can start to get moldy. Not only does mold smell bad but it can also make your snake sick!
How Do You Keep Your Snake’s Tank Clean?
Snakes aren’t messy, so it’s very easy to clean your snake’s enclosure.
Spot cleaning throughout the week will help to keep your snake’s home spotless. You can use something as simple as hot water and a rag to wipe anything off the sides of the glass. As we mentioned above, when your snake poops, you should always just remove that area of the substrate, instead of trying to clean it.
Routinely, you should do a deep clean on your snake’s enclosure. You can temporarily move your snake to another enclosure. You’ll want to remove all of the items in the enclosure and wash them thoroughly. Try to do this in a sink where you don’t prepare food, as you might risk coming into contact with salmonella when cleaning your snake’s dishes.
After washing water dishes and hides, you can clean out the tank itself. Change all of the substrates and wipe down the glass with a reptile-safe cleaner.
After everything is dry you can put everything, including your pet, back!
All in all, snakes really aren’t stinky animals. They don’t have fur or feathers that hold onto odors. They also eat and poop very infrequently. That being said, some of the snake smells are just funky!
If you want to avoid contact with smells, you should try to avoid most colubrids, as they have the stinkiest poop. Hopefully, you’ve found a few options on our list above that might work for you and your situation!