13 Smallest Snakes You Can Keep As Pets (With Videos)

Smallest Snakes You Can Keep As Pets

Many of us reptile lovers dream about owning a snake. But in reality, owning a snake can be difficult. Since snakes can get so big, they take up a lot of space and resources. Luckily, you can find a way around this by adopting a pet snake that’s guaranteed to stay small. Certain species won’t outgrow tanks or your budget no matter how long they live.

In this article, we’ll list the smallest snakes you can keep as pets.

Though the smallest snake in the world is the Barbados thread snake, it’s not really kept as a pet. More popular small pet snakes are species like Ring-necked snakes, Kingsnakes, and Garter snakes. These snakes usually don’t reach lengths of more than 2 feet and can be kept in relatively small enclosures.  

Before we dive into our list of small pet snakes, we’ll quickly go over some of the pros of owning a small pet reptile.

What Are The Pros Of Keeping A Small Snake?

It might not be immediately obvious why a small pet snake would be preferred over a larger pet snake but there are many positives.

Having a small pet is ideal for people who don’t yet own a home or are limited in space. Small pets occupy less space and are easier to move around when needed. According to the ASPCA, about 6.3 million pets were surrendered in the United States last year. One of the most common reasons for surrendering was moving. If you have a small pet, you don’t have to worry about giving them up if you need to move to a different home. They are small and easier to take with you.

Another reason why small snakes are great to own is that they eat less food than larger snakes. Though small snakes eat more often than larger snakes, they consume a lot less food per week. That means that their regular cost of care will be a bit lower

Lastly, smaller snakes may be easier to handle and less threatening for new reptile owners.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

There aren’t really any specific disadvantages to owning a small pet snake. The only thing you might be worried about if you’re on a very, very small snake is the possibility of them escaping their enclosure. Since some of the small snakes are very thin, they might be able to squeeze their small openings and may become lost more easily.

What Is The World’s Smallest Snake?

When you look into small pet snakes, one snake in particular, comes up a lot.  The Barbados threadsnake is the smallest known snake species in existence. As adults, Barbados threadsnakes only reach a length of about 4 inches and only weigh about half a gram.

Unlike some of the claims you might see online, Barbados threadsnakes are not commonly, kept as pets. Because of their small size, they can actually be very difficult to keep alive in captivity.

So, even though the snake is technically the smallest snake, we’re not going to call it the smallest pet snake.

What Is The Smallest Snake To Have As A Pet?

Brahminy blind snakes are probably the smallest snake you can have as a pet.  These non-venomous snakes are mostly found in Africa and Asia.  They sort of look like earthworms, and have tiny scales and eyes.  As adults, these snakes can sometimes reach lengths of 6 inches but no longer.

Even though you can keep a Brahminy blind snake as a pet, it’s not common.  The way the snakes are kept and cared for is kind of the same way that an earthworm would be kept and cared for.  They don’t make the best pets because they like to burrow and eat fairly small prey.  Owners of these tiny snakes may never see their snakes emerge from dens other than to eat.

Realistically, most people would not want this tiny snake as a pet.

13 Smallest Snakes You Can Keep As Pets

Besides, the Barbados threadsnake and the Brahmoiny blind snake, here are the rest of the smallest snakes that you can keep as a pet.

1. Ring-Necked Snake

Ring-necked snakes are one of the smallest pet snakes. Not only do these snakes only reach a maximum length of about 8 to 14 inches as adults, but they’re also very thin. These snakes are one of the very few reptiles that stay small throughout their entire life. Ring-necked snakes only way a few grams as adults.

In captivity, ring-necked snakes do very well. These tiny snakes are known to eat things like salamanders, slugs, and earthworms in the wild. If you end up owning one of these snakes, you can feed them things like crickets and other small insects.

2. African Egg Eating Snake

One of the coolest small pet snakes you may not have heard about is the African egg-eating snake. These snakes never grow longer than 3 feet in length, and usually are about 24 to 30 inches long as adults. Even the heads of the snakes are very small since they belong to a family of sleek-shaped snakes called Colubrids.

Not only are African egg-eating snakes a small pet snake you can easily keep as they move from home to home, but they’re also very easy to feed. True to their name, egg-eating snakes only eat, well, eggs.

In the desert, these snakes feed exclusively on eggs found in bird nests. As you can see in the video above, they’re able to swallow eggs that are many times larger than their heads. In captivity, these snakes are easy to feed and are one of the few pet reptiles that don’t require live food. Just an egg will do.

3. Western Hognose

If you are focused on getting a small but fierce-looking snake, hognose snakes may be your answer.

This species of snake experiences sexual dimorphism and the males are actually much smaller than the females. Male hognose snakes usually grow to a length of about 15 to 20 inches. On the other hand, females typically reach a length of about 3 feet. If you’re worried about your snake outgrowing their enclosure, try procuring a male hognose snake if you can. They’ll naturally stay much smaller.

One of the best reasons to keep a hognose snake as a pet is that they’re diurnal and active during the day. That means you can observe them, basking, burrowing, and hunting all while you’re still awake.

4. Scarlett Kingsnake

As you can see in the video above, scarlet kingsnakes are one of the most beautiful and tiny snakes you can keep as a pet. Most adult kingsnakes stay pretty small and only grow to be about 16 to 20 inches long in total. Since these snakes are colubrids they also stay thin throughout their entire lives.

You’ve probably heard the coral snake rhyme that goes something like this;

“Red touches black, friend of Jack.  Red touches yellow, kills a fellow.”

Kingsnakes are one of the snakes that are often mistaken for coral snakes in the wild. But, as you can see these snakes don’t have any yellow on them, and true to the rhyme, they aren’t venomous. Kingsnakes make great small pets for beginners and scarlet kingsnakes are one species that stay especially small as adults.

5. Kenyan Sand Boa

Unlike any of the other small snakes we’ve gone over so far, Kenyan sand boas are very thick and stout snakes. Despite their heavy weight, these snakes are still considered small because they don’t grow very long. The Kenyan sand boa males are always smaller and only grow to be about 15 inches in length. Females on the other hand, usually reach an adult length of about 26 to 32 inches in length.  The smallest snakes of this subspecies may be able to fit in a 20-gallon tank for their entire lives.

One care consideration, when considering bringing a Kenyan sand boa into the house is its substrate. These snakes need a substrate that they’re able to dig and burrow into. You’ll likely need to fill their enclosure with plenty of sand or another commercially available reptile substrate.

6. Garter Snake

The common garter snake is a thin snake that can be found both in the wild and as a pet.  On average, most garter snakes only grow to be about 22 inches total in length.  However, there’s no guarantee that your garter snake will stay small as some individuals may grow to be 54 inches long.  For the most part, the snake species stays on the smaller side.

One of the best things about keeping a garter snake is that their food is also small. Not only do garter snakes eat small mammals but they also consume, amphibians, fish, and insects! Even though you can feed mice to these small snakes, you can also try giving them things like earthworms, or goldfish. Depending on your pet snake’s preference, you might start to keep some unusual critters in stock for their dinners.

Garter snakes can make great small snake pets because they’re easy to care for, they’re unlikely to bite, and they’re non-venomous to humans.

7. Smooth Green Snake

Smooth green snakes are small to medium snakes that can be found in North America. Smooth green snakes can be kept as pets, but don’t always do well in captivity. This may be due to their shy nature or to their small size. These snakes go to a length of about 14 to 20 inches as adults. Luckily, this is one snake species that is guaranteed to stay small, no matter what, as the longest adult recorded ever was only 26 inches long.

We mentioned above that smooth green snakes are very shy and timid reptiles. When threatened, these snakes choose to flee as opposed to fighting. Sometimes, these snakes can omit a foul-smelling musk from glands on their tail to help further deter predators.

8. Rosy Boa

In an article about the smallest pet snakes, you might not expect to find many boas. However, rosy boas are one species of boas that stay relatively small for their entire lives. The average adult rosy boa is about 24 inches long. They usually range from a length of 17 to 36 inches. And in some rare cases, rosy boas can grow to 48 inches in length.

Rosy boas are known for their cute body shapes and beautiful, iridescent scales. These snakes have pretty small heads and thick bodies. They have stripes running horizontally down their entire bodies and come in a variety of colors. Even though this species is called “rosy”, many of these individuals don’t have any sort of pink or rosy coloration at all.

The snakes do well in captivity because of their docile nature, beautiful colors, and overall hardiness. A healthy rosy boa can be expected to live longer than 30 years.

9. Ball Python

If you want a small snake, a ball python might work for you. But, if you want a small ball python, you’ll need to adopt a full-grown adult. That’s because these snakes have a huge size range. As you can see, in the video above, there’s a great diversity in how long and large ball pythons grow.

The smallest mature ball pythons you can get as pets are usually around 24 inches long. But, some ball pythons can grow to be upwards of 6 feet in length. Now, if you’re set on getting a small pet, you won’t want to get a ball python as a hatchling. Unless you know both of the parents, there’s no way to tell just how long your ball python is growing to grow. Adopting an adult is a sure way to know that you’ll have space and room for this pet.

10. Children’s Python

Just like ball pythons, children’s pythons are another species that have a great range in size.  The smallest snakes of these species, usually grow to be about 36 inches total in length. Larger individuals may grow to an adult length of 5 feet!

Children’s pythons are covered as pets for many reasons, but one of the coolest things about them is their scales. Out of the sunlight, these snakes look like normal, beige, and brown spotted pets. But, once you get one of these snakes, under sunlight, you’ll quickly realize that they shine and are actually iridescent. Children’s pythons are found in Australia in the wild and are kept as pets worldwide for many reasons in addition to their relatively small size.

11. California Kingsnake

Though the California kingsnake is not the smallest snake on our list today, they’re still considered a relatively small species.

Because California kingsnakes aren’t thick or bulky they always seem a little smaller than they actually are. In reality, California kingsnakes range anywhere from 36 to 48 inches in total length as adults.

One great thing about California king snakes is that they spend a lot of their days hiding away in a burrow. They are not an incredibly active species and may require less room than many other snakes. As long as you provide them with a good hiding place, and substrate to burrow in they’ll be happy.

So, this small snake can be kept in a relatively small enclosure even though it may be up to 4 feet in length as adults.

12. Rough Green Snake

Rough green snakes and smooth green snakes are often confused with one another. Rough green snakes are slightly larger than smooth green snakes and have rough dorsal scales. These small snakes are found in the southeastern United States. As adults, rough green snakes are anywhere from 14 to 33 inches long and are incredibly thin.

Rough green snakes are slightly more docile than smooth green snakes and may do better in captivity. Rough green snakes are still difficult to keep as pets because of their small size and diet. These snakes live on a diet mostly made up of insects, but occasionally eat snails and small frogs.

13. Mexican Milk Snake

Mexican milk snakes are a non-venomous species of milk snake that can be found both in northern Mexico and the southern U.S.

Mexican milk snakes are a very small species of milk snake that max out at about 24 to 30 inches in total length. Unlike some of the other steaks on our list, milk snakes are stout, thick, and heavy. Milk snakes make popular pets because of their small size and good temperament. Plus, their coloration is striking and beautiful to look at.

Even though many of the snakes on our list today can grow to be over 3 feet in total length, they’re still considered small. In reality, many snakes kept as pets can grow to be quite large in captivity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully, we’ve done a good job of showing you the smallest snakes that you can keep as pets. Here are some answers to other common questions on the topic of small snakes.

What Is The Easiest Small Snake To Take Care Of?

In some ways, small snakes, are harder to care for than large snakes.  That’s because they’re often skittish and have specific dietary needs. Rosy boas and ball pythons are probably the easiest small snakes to care for. These snakes, eat large animal proteins, like rats and mice. They are hearty and thrive in captivity. Plus, these two larger species of small snakes tolerate handling well.

What Snakes Stay Small And Don’t Bite?

Many colubrids on our list stay small and don’t tend to bite. Kingsnakes, milksnakes, ring-necked snakes, and garter snakes all tend to stay very small and aren’t aggressive. That being said, it’s important to remember that any snake has the ability to bite, especially when they’re stressed or being mishandled.

What Snakes Can Fit In A 10-gallon Tank?

Any snake that is under 20 inches in length can fit into a 10-gallon tank. You usually want the length of your tank to be at least as long as the length of your pet snake. Many of the adult snakes on our list above might fit into a 10-gallon tank. Some species, like rosy boas, typically wouldn’t fit in a 10-gallon tank but spend most of their time coiled up and hiding and can be kept in a small enclosure.

Most hatchling snakes can be kept in a 10-gallon enclosure for a brief period of time.

Final Thoughts

Some of the smallest snakes that you can keep as pets are also some of the best snakes that you can keep as pets.

Small snakes often have a few things in common. They’re less expensive to care for, they take up less room, and they may be easier to handle. On the other hand, smaller snakes may also have special dietary requirements that make feeding a little bit more difficult.

We hope this list has given you ideas about what kind of small snake you might want to bring into your home!