If you are a beginning pet snake collector or are thinking about getting a snake for a pet you should consider a gopher snake. They are always on the list of best snakes for a beginner. The reasons for this are they are very docile, easy to handle, don’t need special housing and are easy feeders. They probably have the best temperament of all the beginner type pet snakes. A hand raised gopher snake will be very tame and are very predictable when outside of their enclosures. They will also appear to enjoy interacting with you. They normally don’t have health related problems and they rarely get sick. While you can’t teach them tricks or walk them they do make great pets as you can still interact with them by handling them.
You’ll find that your pet gopher snake is not dangerous to you or others. Even though there are times when will they get frightened and may strike or bite. This is no big deal as they are not venomous and their teeth are relatively small. They will let you know when they plan to strike so you can quit doing whatever is making them uncomfortable. The fear of getting bit is much worse than the bite. If they think your hand is food they may bite it and not let go. This is easy to handle with some grain (not rubbing) alcohol in their mouth while holding their mouth it downward so the alcohol doesn’t get up their nose or flood their mouth.
If you plan to show your pet snake to other people this pet snake is probably best for this as they are very docile. Go slow with introducing it to strangers. It won’t take long for it to be accustomed to be handled by others and you can give people their first chance to handle a live snake.
Your pet gopher snake will probably not be a problem feeder as most of them aren’t. They will readily eat frozen/thawed mice making the feeding very easy. Another plus is they only need to be fed every 10 days or so. Don’t handle the food with your bare hands as the smell might make your pet think your hand is food.
The gopher snakes enclosure doesn’t have to be anything special. The main requirement is that it be at least two thirds the snake length long so they can stretch out. Heat one side of the enclosure to 75 to 85 degrees leaving the other side cool. Provide most any material except for cedar shavings for the substrate. Indoor/outdoor carpet works well and is easy to keep clean. You need to have a place for your pet to hide. This can be as simple as box with a hole in it. Make sure the top of the enclosure is well secured so your pet doesn’t escape. An escaped snake may be very irritating to some members of the family.
As with most animals there are some disadvantages or cons to having a gopher snake as a pet. They do defecate now and then so you’ll need to clean the enclosure which is not that big of a deal. Probably the biggest disadvantage is when they get provoked, frightened, or stressed they often release musk along with their poop that really stinks and the smell is difficult to get rid of. A turn off for some people is that snakes usually eat mice or rats. While some snakes require live ones, your pet gopher snake will be happy with thawed frozen ones.
They may try to strike or bite you if you haven’t handled them for a while. This is easy to overcome by handling them frequently. After all isn’t this what a pet is for? The more you interact with your pet the more you will enjoy them and it will keep them friendly and even tempered.
As you can see, the pros out weight the cons by a long way in having a gopher snake as a pet. To get the best results with your pet snake you should get one that has been born in captivity. Only try to capture and keep one as a pet if you’re an experienced snake collector. Because of their even temperament, lack of feeding problems, needing no special enclosures and ease of handling, the gopher snake will make a great pet for the beginner as well as the experienced collector.