From the Thamnophis genus. There are around 20 species of this snake. They are native to North America and as far north as Alaska and Canada, making this type of snake hardy to cold weather. Garter snakes are long and thin, growing to 1-1.2m (three feet) in length; they are mostly marked with a black dorsal stripe from nose to tail with a green or yellow background. Garter snakes live close to water and must not be allowed to dry out. Although they will feed on small rodents, they prefer whole fish and earthworms.
 
These are the most commonly kept species; they are native to North America. They have long been kept as a pet and readily breed in captivity. There are many colour varieties available; red phases, red albino, black, grey and striped. This snake grows to around 1.5–1.8m (5-6 feet) in length. They also eat rodents.
 
The majority of these snakes grow very large in captivity and should therefore not be considered by beginners. Royal pythons – Python regius – are a smaller species reaching 1.2-1.5m (3-5 feet) in length. Captive bred youngsters can prove hardy and robust. They require warm humid environments, with plenty of climbing space. Most are rodent eaters. (Pictured is a Ball Python.)
 
From the Lampropeltis genus. These snakes are native to South and Central America. There are seven species and several sub species – all generally do well in captivity. Most snakes of this species grow to 1.5-2m (5-7 feet) in length. They have a small rounded head and generally have beautiful markings; from solid black specimens to black and white banded forms. Some species mimic the deadly Coral snake; these are marked with red, black and yellow bands. All snakes of this species will readily eat rodents they also have a tendency to be cannibalistic and therefore should be kept alone.
 
These snakes belong to the Elaphe Genus, which consists of around 60 species; most of which are a very tough and so do very well in captivity. They are good for beginners and people looking for a smaller, more robust snake. As their name suggests they are rodent eaters.
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