Best Large Pet Snake

While the best large pet snake is a matter of opinion, some obviously make better pets than others. I’ll explore the most popular giant snakes and decide which make the best pet. Such snakes covered include the rock python, reticulated python, Burmese python, the anaconda, and two boas.

The Dumeril’s boa

I’m going to start out with what I truly feel makes the best large pet snake. The Dumeril’s boa is technically considered a medium-sized boa but females occasionally reach ten feet. Besides that, I’ve known of a few big ones an acquaintance keeps. I like these snakes so much I keep six of them.

Best large pet snake is the Dumeril’s boa

They are an absolute pleasure to work with and all have extremely tame temperaments. There are not many snakes I can honestly say I trust 100%, but the Dumeril’s is up there for sure. I’ve yet to be bitten by one in all these years.

Proper snake handling for positive interaction

Gain trust from your snake through gently handling. Be confident, handle confidently. Always treat your snake with respect. Don't be overly forceful.

The Dumeril’s boa is a shy snake so getting newly acquired specimens to feed may take some patience. Not to worry, if the snake is healthy and not overly stressed it’ll eventually eat. In my experience, I’ve had specimens hold out on me for as long as six weeks, while others ate the first day of their arrival.

These boas are also prolific and easy to breed. Breeding Dumeril’s boas are as easy as placing the male in the female’s enclosure around December with a slight drop of temperature. If it all works out, you’ll have babies by the spring.

A reptile show
Large snakes are still sometimes available at reptile conventions but you still need to present the proper permit for reticulated pythons.

These snakes are somewhat pricey averaging in at about $250 a pop. They’re well worth the investment. If you have problems feeding your new Dumeril’s, offer a freshly-killed rodent when it’s still twitching.

Reptile show

This usually works. I then slowly switch them over to frozen/thawed rodents. Eventually, they’ll carrion feed. After all, they’re known as scavengers back in their home of Madagascar.

The common boa constrictor

The common boa constrictor, red tail boa, Colombian boa, etc, comes in at a close second behind the Dumeril’s boa. They can get big too, but to my knowledge, there has yet to be a human fatality from a boa constrictor accident.

Female Colombian boa constrictor

I sincerely doubt there ever will be, they simply don’t get large enough. That doesn’t mean the animal isn’t treated with any less amount of respect.

While usually docile, a ticked off boa constrictor can give a powerful and nasty bite that may hurt more than just your feelings. I’ve kept many specimens over the years and they’re always enjoyable and fun to have around.

Dwarf boas

Dwarf boas are also readily available online and at reptile shows. Just this past year I’ve come across several, many that I found myself tempted to buy. While the Hog Island dwarf boa is pricey, the Nicaraguan boas are cheaper.

Be careful when buying dwarf boas, make sure they’re true dwarf boas and not mixed with Colombians or Peruvians. Such mixes have the potential to reach greater lengths. The general rule of thumb with any of these Central and South American boas is that females grow larger and heavier while males are smaller and leaner.

Whether you go with a full-sized specimen or a dwarf, I highly recommend these wonderful animals that can do no wrong in my eyes.

The reticulated python 

The reticulated python is only recommended for those who can give the proper space requirements and resources at their disposal. I once had a reticulated python in high school. I was seventeen then so what did I know? This was many years before the python ban and these snakes were readily available as hatchlings.

I ended up naming the snake “Evil Thing” because of his unpredictable temperament. On some occasions, he wouldn’t bite while others he wouldn’t. There was no rhyme or reason to it. It wasn’t something I could predict or see coming. After a year he reached about nine feet and I ended up trading him in. Since then, I never bothered with the reticulated python again. 

For those who are really interested in this snake, I recommend getting a dwarf reticulated python. They’re pretty expensive and can still pack a wallop of a bite but at least they shouldn’t end up killing you like their normal-sized brethren.

The Burmese python

The Burmese python is known as the terror of the Everglades. According to the state of Florida, the Burmese python is upsetting the ecosystem of the Everglades. These snakes are not the only invasive reptiles found in that huge swamp.

I’ve never been down there myself, but I really need to go. If I weren’t so afraid of hurricanes, I’d move there. Ironically, it was Hurricane Andrew that takes the blame for releasing many Burmese pythons in 1992. Supposedly a facility became heavily damaged from the storm and the snakes found their way to freedom.

Susceptibility to upper respiratory infections

I kept a few Burmese pythons over the years. They seem susceptible to upper respiratory infections and often blow small bubbles out of their noses. Still, they’re technically a hardy python.

During the deep freeze of the Everglades which occurred in 2010/2011, most scientists felt the cold snap would kill them all off. Those in the field did come across many pythons sick with upper respiratory infections but guess what? Yes, they ultimately survived and quickly repopulated the Everglades. There’s really no way to completely wipe them out.

The bottom line on Burms

Burmese pythons as a pet can be docile but it’s my opinion they can never be trusted 100% and you definitely don’t want to smell like a rodent, rabbit, or bird when attempting to handle one.

Out of the reticulated python and the Burmese python, I’d say that the Burmese python makes the better pet of the two. Those retics are just too unpredictable in my experience.

The African rock python 

While I never owned an African rock python, it’s the one I’m most interested in keeping, even today. I don’t know what it is that attracts me to this giant but they’re my favorite of the gargantuan pythons.

They also have a reputation for having an ill temperament. Even worse than the reticulated python, so why would I want one? I really don’t know but before they became illegal, I came across a tiny baby at a reptile convention. I’ve always regretted not picking him up. 

“Super-hybrid” pythons?

It’s said that there are African rock pythons loose in the Everglades too and they’re supposedly cross-breeding with the Burmese python creating a “super snake” of epic proportions.

Don’t believe the media hype when it comes to reptiles. The media have always had it out for reptiles and their keepers and they’re not our friends. In my opinion, the media’s responsibility is to educate people, not scare them by capitalizing on their fears. 

The Anaconda

Let me get this straight, the yellow anaconda is banned from sale without a permit but the green anaconda is still legal to buy? The laws change so often I rarely pay close attention to them since I keep species that are legal without question.

While I’ve never kept an anaconda myself, common sense dictates that these snakes are not for beginners. They need really large enclosures with a large water tub to completely submerge in. They’ll most likely defecate in the tub which won’t be fun to clean. Anacondas can also be picky eaters, sometimes preferring birds over rodents.

If you’re looking for a snake you can hold and show the family, it’s a safe bet that an anaconda isn’t a good choice. Still, they’re a beautiful snake and like the reticulated python, those with the proper resources and facilities keep them successfully. I’ll be willing to bet even those people would tell you that they’re high maintenance pets.

Conclusion

Dwarf boas and the Dumeril’s boa are my personal preference when keeping such snakes. I recently caved in and bought a pair of Argentines boas. I know these have the potential to get just as large as the Colombian boa but they’re something I always wanted. 

What are your thoughts on the “big” snakes kept as pets? Feel free to share your opinions and stories in the comments section below.

Best Large Pet Snake

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