Five snakes that are good for beginner reptile keepers 0 52

Pet Ball Python pet

Snakes are the most popular reptile pet to keep, but are they easy to look after? They do make unusual pets, but with good pet care – the right equipment, food and environment – they will thrive.

If you’re a beginner, what snake should you get to start you off? Here’s our rundown of five snakes that will make a great pet for first time snake keepers.

Corn Snake

Corn snakes are one of the most popular first time snakes to buy. They don’t grow too big – an adult corn snake needs a 20 gallon tank. They will live for around 20 years.

They’re easy to handle and to look after. They feed on mice. Corn snakes are quite active, so will need time outside their tank for exercise.

Royal or Ball Python

The royal python (also known as the ball python) can live for up to 30 years, and grow up to five feet.

Royal pythons are a timid species, so don’t appreciate much handling – they need somewhere to hide within their tank. For tank size allow 1 square foot to each foot of snake in length.

Royals eat mice or rats, depending on the size of their mouth.

King Snake

King snakes live for about 15 years. There are lots of different types, with some growing up to six feet.

King snakes are active, so will need time out of their tank, and can bite when cornered, but with careful and regular handling should settle.

They feed on mice and rats, and need the same sized tank proportions as a royal python.

Rosy Boa

Rosy boas are fairly docile, but can bite if caught unaware. Rosy boas grow to about four feet in length and will live for about 30 years. They need a reasonable size tank, and places to hide as well. Rosy boas feed on mice.

Garter snake

Garter snakes grow up to three foot long, and live to about 10 years.

They need around a 29 gallon tank to be comfortable. Garter snakes do eat mice, but prefer fish, and food like frogs, so it’s best to give them a varied diet.

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5 must-know tips for keeping llamas and alpacas 0 55

Llamas and alpacas are unusual pets, but they are becoming more popular with homeowners who have adequate land and time to care for them. These gentle giants are obviously adorable, but they do require a lot of hard work and know-how. Below we share 5 pieces of pet care advice for keeping llamas and alpacas.

1. Outdoor space

Llamas and alpacas need outdoor space that is safe and fenced off. They need enough space to roam and the rule of thumb here is that for every four llamas, you should have an acre of land. Your choice of land is also important as they need to be able to graze. Therefore, if you live in an urban area, keeping llamas and alpacas really isn’t an option unless you have access to somewhere out of town.

2. The importance of specialist vet care

You need to have good links with your vet and they need to be knowledgeable in caring for these type of animals. It’s also important to know that they need regular monthly check-ups as they are prone to parasites. There is obviously a big cost implication to keeping llamas and alpacas, so you should be sure that you have adequate finances to care for them.

3. Stress relief

These animals make great pets as they are fantastic for helping to treat stress. Many individuals choose to keep llamas because they make wonderful therapy pets, especially for children with special needs and individuals with dementia. What’s important to know is that you do need more than one to cater for their own well-being.

4. Diet, fluids and vitamins

Llamas and alpacas forage for food and you need to allow them to do this on your property. You do need to watch their weight as they will eat pretty much anything. Ideally, their foods should consist of 10 to 12 percent protein, so it makes sense to test your grass hay. These animals also need additional minerals, which are easily bought and placed info feeders. Fresh water is also vital to help in the prevention of fungal and bacterial infections.

5. Shelter

These animals do need adequate outdoor shelter to keep them warm and dry. A three-sided shelter should suffice as long as it is deep enough. Alpacas and llamas are conditioned for cold weather, but they will need somewhere to keep them dry and out of the harsh sun.

Photo: Alpaca by TrotterFechan licensed under Creative commons 2

5 exotic pets you hadn’t considered owning 0 131


When we think about owning an unusual pet, we often think about snakes and lizards. They make great pets but there are so many unusual pets out there to choose from, so here’s five you might not have considered:


Octopuses are incredibly beautiful creatures and it is possible to keep them in a home aquarium. You’ll need a pretty large aquarium so consider dwarf or pygmy options as well. They need live food like shrimp and crab which can be expensive to buy, but on the plus side, you’ll spend hours watching them shape-shift and move around the aquarium. Be aware even with the best pet care, they only tend to live about 12 months.


A funny looking creature; a bit like a newt, and a bit like a Pokemon! With the right pet care, they’re really easy to keep as pets. They need a fairly dark aquarium, of at least 45 litres capacity, although you can put in low lighting if you want to watch them. Feed them bloodworm and brine shrimp, which you can buy frozen at pet food stores.

Painted turtle

One of the most popular unusual pets, these turtles live for up to 50 years! To keep this turtle well and happy you’re going to need a large tank with at least 100 gallons of water plus space for the turtle to bask out on land, which it can spend a lot of time doing. You can buy pellets for turtles to eat but also make sure they get their leafy greens and vegetables too!

Emperor scorpion

A fairly large and scary looking creature, the emperor scorpion lives for up to eight years. Scorpions are best observed, rather than handled due to their sting. Keep them alone as they tend to fight, and prefer their own company. Their preferred food is black and brown crickets, with mealworms as a treat!

African pygmy dormice

Looking a bit like a miniature squirrel this dormouse has a bushy tail as long as it’s body. Make sure you get two, preferably of the same sex! These mice need a secure home, as they try to escape often. They need a varied diet so feed them seeds, fruit and vegetables and protein such as mealworms and crickets.

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