Discover What Snakes Stay Small: An In-Depth Guide to Keeping Pet Snakes

» Colubrid Snakes » Discover What Snakes Stay Small: An In-Depth Guide to Keeping Pet Snakes

Are you looking for a pet snake that won’t grow to an enormous size? If so, you may be interested in finding out what snakes stay small. In this article, we’ll explore some of the smallest types of snakes in the world to help you decide which one might be the best fit for you.

Types of Snakes

Types Of Snakes


Pythons are generally large snakes, but there are a few species that remain small. The Spotted Python is one of the smallest, typically reaching lengths of only 3-4 feet. The African Pygmy Python is even smaller, reaching just 18-24 inches.


Despite their larger size, some boas can stay small. The Hog Island Boa grows to a maximum length of 4-5 feet, while the Central American Dwarf Boa reaches 3-4 feet.


Colubrids are the largest family of snakes, but there are some small members. The Barbados Thread Snake is the smallest snake in the world, usually reaching only 4-5 inches. The Worm Snake is also very small, growing to a maximum length of 8-12 inches.

Size of Small Snakes

Size Of Small Snakes


Pythons are one of the smaller species of snakes, with most species growing to be around 5-6 feet in length. The smallest pythons, such as the pygmy python, rarely exceed 3 feet in length.


Boas are another type of small snake, with most species growing to be around 5-7 feet in length. The smallest boas, such as the pygmy boa, rarely exceed 3 feet in length.


Colubrids are one of the smaller snake species, with most species growing to be around 2-4 feet in length. The smallest colubrids, such as the egg-eating snake, rarely exceed 1 foot in length.

Care Requirements for Small Snakes

Care Requirements For Small Snakes

  • Provide a terrarium size that is suitable for the size of the snake. Generally, the rule of thumb is 10 gallons for every foot of snake.
  • Maintain a proper temperature range in the terrarium with a basking area of 85-90°F and a cooler area of 75-80°F. A thermometer is necessary to monitor the temperature.
  • Provide a hiding spot and substrate for the snake to burrow in. Substrate can be aspen shavings, coconut husk, or newspaper. Do not use cedar or other aromatic woods as they are toxic to snakes.
  • Feed the snake a variety of foods such as pinkies, mice, and other small rodents. The size of the food should not exceed the width of the snake’s head.
  • Provide a water bowl that is large enough for the snake to soak in. Change the water daily and clean the bowl with warm soapy water.
  • Clean the terrarium regularly, once to twice a week. Remove the substrate and spot clean the terrarium with warm soapy water. Replace the substrate when the terrarium is dry.

1. Housing

1. Housing

Snake Minimum Tank Size
Corn Snake 20 Gallons
Garter Snake 10 Gallons
California Kingsnake 20 Gallons
Honduran Milksnake 20 Gallons
Ball Python 30 Gallons
Bearded Dragon 40 Gallons

Snakes that stay small tend to require a smaller housing than larger snakes. For example, corn snakes and garter snakes require a minimum of 10-20 gallons, while a California Kingsnake and Honduran Milksnake require a minimum of 20 gallons. The larger Ball Python requires 30 gallons and the Bearded Dragon requires 40 gallons.

2. Diet

2. Diet

  • Garter and ribbon snakes mainly feed on insects like crickets, grasshoppers and worms.
  • Ringneck snakes feed on salamanders, earthworms, slugs, and snails.
  • Mountain and gopher snakes feed on small rodents like mice, gophers and voles.
  • Corn snakes feed on mice and rats.
  • Hognose snakes feed on toads, frogs, and lizards.

3. Temperature and Humidity

3. Temperature And Humidity

  • Snakes kept in captivity must have their temperature and humidity levels monitored regularly.
  • Proper temperature and humidity levels must be maintained to keep snakes healthy and help prevent illness or infection.
  • A good rule of thumb is to keep the temperature at the upper end of the range recommended for a particular species.
  • The humidity level should be between 50 and 70%.
  • Ambient temperatures should never exceed 90°F (32°C).
  • An easy way to ensure the proper temperature and humidity levels is to purchase a thermostat and hygrometer for your pet enclosure.

Cost of Small Snakes

Cost Of Small Snakes

Species Cost
Corn Snake $14 – $50
Gopher Snake $20 – $50
King Snake $25 – $60
Garter Snake $10 – $30
Racer Snake $20 – $60

Small snakes are some of the most affordable reptiles to keep and can be purchased for as little as $10. Common small snake species and their price range include Corn Snakes ($14 – $50), Gopher Snakes ($20 – $50), King Snakes ($25 – $60), Garter Snakes ($10 – $30), and Racer Snakes ($20 – $60).

Benefits of Small Snakes

Benefits Of Small Snakes
Small snakes are easy to care for and don’t require as much space as their larger counterparts. They are also less intimidating and make great pets for those who don’t want a large, potentially dangerous snake. Small snakes are also easier to handle, making them ideal for children and first-time keepers. They are also less likely to escape from their enclosure and are less expensive to feed. They can also be kept in smaller enclosures, allowing for more creative setups.

Disadvantages of Small Snakes

  • Limited diet – Most small snakes have limited diets, often requiring special food items that may be difficult to find or hard to provide.
  • Limited space – Small snakes may require smaller enclosures than larger snakes, which can be difficult to provide.
  • Fragile health – Small snakes are often more prone to health problems, such as respiratory infections and other illnesses, due to their smaller size.
  • Shorter life span – Small snakes tend to have shorter life spans than larger snakes due to their fragility.

Popular Small Snakes

Name Size Origin
Corn Snake 3-5 feet Eastern United States
Garter Snake 2-3 feet North America
Ringneck Snake 12-18 inches North America
Smooth Green Snake 18-24 inches Canada and the United States
Black Rat Snake 3-5 feet Southeastern United States
Red-sided Garter Snake 2-3 feet North America
Scarlet Kingsnake 2-3 feet United States
Western Hognose Snake 2-3 feet North America
California Kingsnake 3-4 feet Western United States and Mexico
Eastern Kingsnake 3-4 feet Eastern United States and Mexico

Popular small snake species include Corn Snakes, Garter Snakes, Ringneck Snakes, Smooth Green Snakes, Black Rat Snakes, Red-sided Garter Snakes, Scarlet Kingsnakes, Western Hognose Snakes, California Kingsnakes, and Eastern Kingsnakes. Most of these species typically reach lengths of 3-5 feet, although some may be as short as 12-18 inches. They originate from various locations throughout North America and the United States, as well as Mexico.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the world’s smallest snake species?

Leptotyphlops carlae, commonly known as the Barbados threadsnake, is the world’s smallest snake species. It is found in Barbados and is rarely longer than 4 inches (10 cm) in length. This species is also the thinnest snake, measuring only as wide as a spaghetti noodle. Barbados threadsnakes are well-known for their burrowing behavior, which is made possible by their slender bodies and small scales. They feed on termites and ant larvae and spend much of their time hidden underground.

What is the Friendliest Type of Snake?

Corn snakes and king snakes are two types of snake known for their docile nature and ease of handling. They are generally considered to be among the most friendly and gentle of all snakes, and are ideal pets for beginner snake owners. They typically stay quite small, reaching around four feet in length at maturity, and have a calm temperament. Corn snakes and king snakes also require minimal space and care, making them easy to keep even in small homes.

Are there any pet snakes that stay small?

Yes, there are many pet snakes that stay small and make great companions. Most small species come from the Colubridae family, including the corn snake, garter snake, and rosy boa. These reptiles stay small, usually measuring between 2 and 4 feet long. Other small species, such as the ball python and king snake, can grow to around 5 feet in length. Some of the smaller species, such as the Eastern Hognose Snake, are known for their docile and laid-back temperament, and make great beginner reptiles.

What is the smallest pet snake?

The smallest pet snake is the Barbados Thread Snake (Leptotyphlops carlae), a species of worm snake found in Barbados. It is only 10 centimeters (4 inches) in length and is the smallest species of snake in the world. It is a non-venomous, harmless species that feeds on small invertebrates such as termites, ants and beetle larvae. It is not a popular pet due to its size, but is a fascinating species to observe and study.

What is the smallest snake for a pet?

Ball pythons are the smallest snake commonly kept as a pet, and they can grow to an adult size of 3-5 feet. Some of the smallest species of snakes, such as the Barbados threadsnake, can reach a maximum length of 4 inches. However, these small snakes require specialized care and are not suitable for most pet owners.


Small snakes are an interesting and diverse group, and they can make interesting pets for those who don’t have the space or resources for a larger snake. While some of the smallest snakes are venomous, many are not, and all of them can make fascinating and rewarding pets. Their small size also makes them easier to care for than larger snakes, and they can be a great choice for those just getting into the hobby.

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