Snakes are elongated, legless animals with dry, scale-covered skin. Their skin is unusually elastic, which allows it to stretch when large prey items are swallowed. Snakes are rather unique because of these features and because they lack moveable eyelids and external ear openings. Snakes may be only a few inches to several yards long. Snakes inhabit a wide variety of ecologic habitats: land, trees, underground, fresh water, and salt water. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. No native snakes are found on the islands of Hawaii, Iceland, New Zealand and Ireland.
Selecting a Pet Snake: Some snakes are rare, endangered and protected by law. Zoos and legitimate herpetologists may only keep these snakes with the appropriate permits. This is also the case with venomous snakes, which should not, under any circumstances, be kept by the average hobbyist. The most common snakes kept by enthusiasts are the many and varied constrictor species (boas, pythons, rat and milk snakes, etc.), and the racer, gopher and garter species. The husbandry and dietary requirements for these types of snakes vary considerably. Further, some of the same species (notably the boa constrictors and pythons) reach very large sizes in captivity, and their considerable space requirements must be anticipated.
Usually, an individual eager to own a snake already has a species preference in mind because of some familiarity with it (friend owns a snake of the same species, etc.) or because of an inexplicable attraction to a species' physical appearance, size, activity or habits. Before you acquire a snake, you should carefully consider the following recommendations:
Snake temperatures vary among species and among individuals of the same species. Certain snake species almost always retain a gentle, docile nature when they are raised from infancy (boa constrictors). In fact, a healthy young boa constrictor makes the most suitable pet among the tropical snake species available. Other species (the larger pythons) are unpredictable and tend to be quite pugnacious as they mature, whether or not they are handled frequently. Reticulated and Burmese pythons are especially unpredictable when they are anticipating being fed. Snakes of these types, especially those handled infrequently, become conditioned to associating feeding with human contact and often cannot distinguish the difference between these 2 situations. The small Ball python has the most predictable and even temperament of all of the python species.