Smallest Pet Snakes

January 20, 2023

Up Close of a Garter Snake's Face

Table of Contents


What are the Smallest Pet Snakes?

So you want a pet snake, but you don’t want one that gets too big. Well you’re in luck! There are tons of smaller snake species to choose from! Many of these species make excellent beginner snakes, and are also fun for the advanced keeper. A smaller snake can be an excellent choice, as they are usually lower maintenance, require a smaller enclosure, and are cheaper to feed and maintain. The snakes in this list aren’t necessarily the world's smallest snakes, but they are the smallest snakes that also thrive in captivity, and therefore would make good pets. Here’s the top 6 smallest pet snakes:



Hognose Snakes

Hognose snakes are notorious for being small, cute snakes. They have quite the personality and are known for puffing up and playing dead. Hognoses have cute, upturned snouts that they use to shovel their substrate with and dig tunnels. These snakes are mildly venomous, and their bites can be compared to bee stings. The hognose snake grows to be between 2 - 3 feet, making them a relatively small species. Because of their small size, a full grown male hognose can be housed in a 20 gallon enclosure, though bigger is always better of course. 


A hognose snake


Rosy Boas

Rosy boas are popular pets in the reptile hobby, and there's no question as to why! These charming little snakes come in a wide variety of morphs (colors and patterns), and are known for being extremely docile and easy to handle. Rosy boas max out at 3 feet long, though many stay smaller than that. Baby rosy boas can be housed in 10 gallon enclosures, and adults require a 20 gallon enclosure. They can live to be 15 years old in captivity, so make sure you’re ready for the commitment!


A Rosy Boa Snake


Garter Snakes

Garter snakes make awesome pets, and are a stand out choice when compared to other species. Most snakes are nocturnal, but garter snakes are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day. Garters have an outgoing personality, and are fun to watch patrolling the perimeter of their enclosure. Garters stay relatively small as well, typically maxing out around 3 feet depending on the species. The unique thing about these snakes is that they are one of the few species that can be cohabitated. If you get a garter, and decide you love them, you can always add another to the enclosure (make sure both snakes are the same sex and the same size to prevent mating or cannibalism). A full grown garter snake will need to be provided with a 29 gallon enclosure, and a good rule of thumb is one additional square foot of enclosure per added garter snake. If you’d like to learn more about garter snakes, check out my in depth article on garter snake care


A Garter Snake in Water


Kenyan Sand Boas

Kenyan sand boas are another good small snake pet choice. These snakes come in a large variety of morphs to choose from. They are usually fairly docile snakes, but they can be a bit skittish and flighty. They typically max out at 2 feet long, which puts them at the smallest pet snakes we have discussed. Being so small, they only require a 15 gallon enclosure. These snakes are known for spending a lot of time digging tunnels and hanging out under their substrate, which may turn some people off of them, however they can still be fascinating to watch when they do make appearances.



Nelson’s Milk Snake

Coming in next, we have the nelson’s milk snake. These snakes can grow to be around 42 inches long, making them a bit larger than the others mentioned before. They are thin, slender snakes that are manageable to handle though. Nelson’s milk snakes are typically calm, shy snakes that are known for having a docile temperament. They have a unique banded pattern that can come in several varieties. Nelson’s milk snakes should be provided with an enclosure that is at least 36 x 24 x 18 inches, though bigger is better. If you think the nelson’s milk snake may be the snake for you, be sure to read up on my nelson’s milk snake care sheet.


Handling a Nelson's Milk Snake


Corn Snake

Much like the milk snake, the corn snake will be on the larger end of the small snake spectrum. Corn snakes are a popular choice for a first snake, and for good reason! These snakes come in a wide variety of morphs and are readily available in pet stores and online. They usually max out around 5 feet long, with females staying smaller than males. Corn snakes are slender snakes that have a calm temperament and tolerate handling well. They are outgoing, and usually spend their time cruising their enclosures. This can make them very entertaining to watch. You can read more on corn snakes in my corn snake care sheet


A Snow Corn Snake