Easiest pet I’ve ever had (and I’ve had cats, dogs, horses, various rodents, various fish, hermit crabs, various birds, turtles, lizards, etc.).
I feed Cleo the corn snake about 1-2x/month now that she’s an adult. As a hatchling, I tried to feed her about every 10 days. I’ve had her since she was 2 weeks old and 10" long; she is now 7 years old and about 5’ long. It doesn’t matter how often I feed her; she’s always hungry. For a starter snake, I highly recommend a corn snake. Just watch out–they are expert escape artists. They can compress themselves to fit into a seemingly impossible gaps.
Seymour is my 6yro ball python, whom I’ve had since he was about 6mos old. He is far more sensitive and went through a phase where he refused to eat for more than 6mos. Turned out, this was because I was out on maternity leave and had a series of subs before a long term sub was found (my snakes live in my classroom 10mos/year); meanwhile, my students tapped on the glass, would “accidentally” leave the lid open, etc. (Doofuses!) This made him nervous, understandably. Problem was solved when I bought a cave for him; he felt much more comfortable having a hiding place. While I know it is good practice to feed a snake in a separate cage (which I do with Cleo), with Mr. Sensitive, I always put the rat directly in the cage with him. Typically, he kills, then drags his meal into the cave. He does come out more often than he used to, and my students know to leave him alone.
Snakes are very low maintenance: they need a reliable heat source that meets their needs (Cleo needs about 80 degrees; Seymour, about 90); safe substrate (I use shredded aspen–at least, I think that’s what it is. It’s what the reptile store recommended); fresh water; a secure cage; proper feeding; feces/urine removed.
All the snake-related problems I’ve had were associated with ball pythons. Balls are notoriously finicky eaters; the slightest stress, and they stop eating. Their appetite also slows around the winter months. My ball pythons have also had some problems with shedding; whereas my corns tend to shed all in one piece, the pythons have had more complications. A few times I’ve had to use ReptiRinse to help loosen the retained shed and tweezers to remove retained eye caps.
That said, corn snakes are higher energy animals. I could wrap Seymour around my arm and he’d hang there for hours. Cleo would be slithering all over the place.
Oh, that reminds me: I learned the hard way corn snakes have a stinky musk they use as a defense mechanism. One of my more high-strung corns let that lovely scent fly when my cat got a little too inquisitive. Cleo has never reacted that way, mercifully.
I love snakes and find them terribly unfairly maligned. I tell my students that every pet I have ever had is more likely to bite and hurt them than either of these snakes ever would. No, they aren’t affectionate, but their needs are few and their life fascinating. Again–I highly recommend them.
BTW, if you get a young corn snake, you may have to feed them Cute Widdle Baby Mice. Cleo ate “pinkies”–newborn mice–at first. (This will seem extra gross, but those you can actually buy frozen and prepackaged; you just reheat them in hot water, never the microwave.) Then she graduated to “fuzzies,” baby mice with fur, but eyes still closed. Then “cruisers,” the cutest baby mice with their eyes open but still not fully mobile. After that comes “hoppers” (fully mobile subadult mice) before reaching adults. Right now, Cleo eats 2-3 “bombers” (retired female breeders–the biggest mice you can get). I had fed her small rats until I was advised rats are too fatty a food for corn snakes. Seymour eats medium rats at this point.
I gotta find a picture of my slithering friends and post them here.