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I want to buy a snake and am interested in whether or not I should buy an adult snake or a baby snake. I have heard from my friend that an older, adult snake can be more frisky but when I went to the store and they said it doesn't matter. My thoughts are either a boa constrictor or a California king snake. At the moment it is fall.

Is there any difference?

  • 6 months on, do you have an update? – ClickRick May 26 '14 at 17:00
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Size:

There's a big difference between boa constrictors and california king snakes, literally.

  • boa constrictors can range from about 6 - 15 feet long at full maturation (depending on the type), but can grow to 18 foot or longer. A boa can grow to 5 foot long in it's first year of life.
  • california king snake 4 foot, but can grow up to 6 foot long.

Temperament:

  • boa constrictors are docile snakes, making them popular pets, but grow large and heavy, and more importantly are extremely strong (they have been known to kill people, even as pets). I have seen no definitive evidence discussing behavior changes between baby snakes and sexually mature snakes, but there is evidence that prolonged care with a sensible and experienced snake owner will produce a calmer snake, whereas boa constrictor's handed to rescue shelters are frequently aggressive and difficult to manage, most likely due to inexperienced or poor handling.
  • california king snake as an adult is generally calm, as a baby can be highly strung and nervous.

Age:

  • boa constrictors have a lifespan of 25-30 years, reach sexual maturity 3-4 years.
  • california king snake can live as pers in excess of 20 years (in the wild 10 - 15 years), reach sexual maturity 3 - 4 years.

References and Resources:

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Honestly, it depends a lot on personal preference. A baby snake will eventually grow into an adult snake. Personally, I would consider the species of snake as well as whether or not it's captive-bred or wild-caught much more important than the age.

If you are a first-time snake keeper I would strongly recommend a king snake over a boa. (Other good first-time snakes are corn snakes or possibly captive-bred ball pythons.)

Most of the snakes sold in pet stores in my area are juveniles. Adult snakes are often put up for adoption or sale by owners who are no longer willing or able to look after them. The situation may be different in your area, however. But if you are planning on getting your snake from a pet store, you may have a difficult time finding adults for sale.

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As mentioned in other answers, there are size and lifespan differences you might want to consider as well. Obviously a bigger snake needs more space.

As far as difference goes, it's all dependant on the snake, and the previous owner. Some snakes can just be totally against handling, and there's nothing the owner can do about it. Generally, you'll find snakes with those personalities to be the species that are newer to the pet industry, so most king snakes and some boas should be generally easy to handle. Just know their are always exceptions.

When you get a baby snake, it's all dependent on you to handle it regularly. Regular handling while the snake is young is what gets the snake used to human interaction - giving it the friendly personality. A snake that is rarely handled is more likely to avoid human interaction, and even strike at hands that enter it's cage because it still feels that humans are dangerous.

So when you get an adult snake, you can get the advantage of a snake that's already been handled regularly. Giving you a head start (you only have to get it used to how you smell), and a more mellow snake. But, you have to be wary of people selling snakes they've had as pets, because they're selling them for a reason. Maybe because they found that caring for the snake is too expensive, or having a snake as a pet isn't what they first imagined it would be like, or more importantly to you, they didn't have time for the snake.

I would say adopting an adult snake from someone is more of a rescue operation, and if you take on the responsibility, you should be prepared for a snake that might need some extra attention. Getting it settled into it's new home, and possibly some type of re-taming.

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