There are almost 3,000 species of snake in the world. Snakes come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, colors, and temperaments, depending on their species. Unsurprisingly, the baby versions – whether they are born live, or hatch out of an egg – are all different, too.
Each species of snake is a different size. Garter snakes, for example, are between 6-9 inches when they’re born, weighing only 1.5-4g each. Reticulated python hatchlings, however, can emerge from the egg at 24-30 inches weighing 110-170g.
We will now look in detail at baby snakes, covering the most common wild and pet species. We’ll discuss how each snake is born, their average size at birth, and what they look like. We’ll share some interesting facts about baby snakes along the way.
How Small Are Baby Snakes?
If you’ve come across a snake in the wild – or perhaps in a pet store – how do you know how old a snake is? Without having the snake professionally examined by a herpetologist, the easiest way to judge a snake’s age is by its size.
Some snakes are oviparous, meaning that they hatch from eggs. Others, like garter snakes, are viviparous – they give birth to their young, like humans. But no matter how the babies enter the world, newborn snakes are always much smaller than their adult counterparts.
Of course, each species of snake is different. Let’s look at the average length and weight of ten of the most common wild and pet snakes.
Length and Weight of Baby Snakes by Species
|Species||Length at Birth/Hatch||Weight at Birth/Hatch|
|Gopher Snake (Bull Snake):||12-18”||30-40g|
There is a huge variation in size dependent on species. A baby reticulated python would look like a giant if you placed it next to a freshly-hatched hognose snake, despite being the same age.
Some snakes – such as the Brahminy blind snake – are even so small that they look like worms.
Facts about Baby Snakes by Species
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at ten of different snake species. We’ll cover the most common snakes, both in the wild and in the pet trade.
For each one, we’ll describe what it looks like as a baby, to help with newborn snake identification.
We’ll also share some facts about each snake, such as how many babies are born at once, and how large they grow as adults.
Ball pythons are only found in sub-Saharan Africa. However, they are some of the most popular pet snakes in the U.S. They’re docile, sweet-natured and stay relatively small throughout their lives.
Female ball pythons are gravid for about a month before laying approximately 6-12 eggs. They typically mate in the spring, though in captivity they can lay eggs year-round.
Like most pythons, female ball pythons protect their eggs until they hatch. After almost two months, ball python hatchlings emerge. They’re around 10-16 inches long. Being heavy-bodied snakes, babies weigh 50-100 grams on average.
Baby ball pythons look exactly like their adult counterparts in terms of shape and color. They are born with the characteristic pits along their top lips, used to sense the body heat of prey.
At one year of age, male ball pythons are 30-40” long while females are 30-50”. They weigh between 500g and 1000g.
Corn snakes are a species of rat snake, in the genus Pantherophis. They’re related to black, grey and yellow rat snakes.
Endemic to North America, wild corn snakes can be found in the southeastern United States. They also make very popular pets.
Corn snakes breed in the spring, and lay 10-30 eggs in May or June. When she’s finished laying, the mother vacates the nest, leaving the eggs alone.
Hatchlings are 10-15 inches long. Because they are active hunters, their bodies are quite light and thin, weighing only 6-8 grams.
Baby corn snakes have the same body shape as adults, but their coloration is quite different. They lack most of their orange pigmentation, appearing quite grey between their dull red saddles. As they age, they become brighter and their colors grow more vivid.
Yearlings measure around 24-40”. Males weigh 35 to 80g. Females are slightly heavier at 50-100g.
Kingsnakes are colubrids, like corn snakes, though they belong to a different genus – Lampropeltis. They get their name from their eating habits – they eat other snakes.
There are several different species. The most common are the California kingsnake, the eastern kingsnake, and the scarlet kingsnake.
All kingsnakes are endemic to North America. California kingsnakes can be found along the west coast. Eastern and scarlet kingsnakes reside in the eastern half of the U.S.
Kingsnakes breed in the spring, after coming out of brumation. Like most colubrids, the mother abandons her eggs after laying them. A clutch contains between 3 and 13 eggs on average.
Each baby measures between 8 and 11 inches long, weighing 9 – 14 grams. This may vary depending on species. Hatchlings look very similar to adults, with the same pattern, coloration and body shape.
By one-year-old, most kingsnakes measure in the region of 24 to 30 inches, and weigh up to 300g.
Milk snakes are very closely related to kingsnakes. They’re part of the same genus, Lampropeltis. There are many subspecies of milk snake. Most of them have red, black and white (or yellow) bands.
Found across most of the US and some parts of Canada, milk snakes also make popular pets. They’re easy to take care of, though they can be flighty, especially when young.
Like other American snakes, milk snakes lay their eggs in the summer months, after mating in the spring. They lay around 3 to 15 eggs at a time. The mother leaves the eggs after laying them.
When the babies hatch, they are around 5-10 inches long, weighing between 4 and 8 grams. The babies resemble the adults in terms of color, pattern and body shape. Some, like the eastern milk snake, are slightly less colorful than their grown counterparts.
Yearling milk snakes can reach between 15 and 40 inches long, and weigh up to 500 grams.
Hognose snakes have one of the most adorable defense mechanisms of any snake. They roll onto their backs and “play dead,” and have this ability from the moment of hatching.
There are three species of hognose snake in the US: western, eastern, southern and Mexican hognoses. They all look fairly similar – small, with an upturned nose and keeled scales.
Hognose snakes often lay large clutches, of up to 40 eggs at a time. Baby hognose snakes are 5-9 inches long, weighing no more than 8 grams. They’re born with the characteristic “snout,” and brown spots along their backs.
Because of their keeled scales, baby hognoses are often mistaken for rattlesnakes. They’ll even vibrate their tails if they feel threatened. However, they are quite harmless.
Boa constrictors are native to South America. They are favorite pets in North America, as they’re quite easy to care for. They grow up to 13 feet long, and are non-venomous.
Interestingly, boa constrictors are viviparous: they give birth to live young, like mammals. The babies develop fully inside the mother, emerging when they’re ready to fend for themselves.
Up to 60 babies can be born at once, usually between April and August (South America’s dry season). Newborn boa constrictors are born in a thin, transparent sac, which they soon break out of.
They are around 14 to 22 inches long at birth, weighing between 50 and 60 grams. Baby boas are born with their adult coloration and body shape.
After only a year, boa constrictors can reach up to 50 inches long, and weigh up to 1000 grams.
Garter snakes are among the most common wild snakes in the United States. They often appear in people’s yards, hunting bugs, lizards, and rodents.
There are many species of garter snake. Most are dark in color, with at least one light-colored longitudinal stripe running down their back. They’re small and harmless, so they’re also popular in the pet trade.
Like boa constrictors, garter snakes give birth to live young. Some species may have as many as 80 babies at once.
The babies are extremely small. They’re 6 to 9 inches long, and weigh between 1.5 and 4 grams each. They resemble adult garter snakes in color and pattern.
Even as adults, garter snakes rarely weigh more than 150g. They average from 16 to 35 inches when fully grown. Here is some advice on how to care for baby garter snakes.
Gopher Snake (Bull Snake)
Gopher snakes, also known as bull snakes or pine snakes, are another common wild snake in the U.S.
They are non-venomous colubrids, but have evolved to mimic dangerous rattlesnakes. Gopher snakes can vibrate their tails when threatened, and widen their heads to appear more triangular, like a rattlesnake.
Though they may appear menacing, gopher snakes are generally comfortable with humans, and make good pets.
Like most American snakes, gopher snakes breed in the spring. They lay between 2 and 26 eggs per clutch, which hatch after around two months.
Freshly-hatched gopher snakes are 12-18 inches long, weighing 30-40 grams. They closely resemble adults in color – cream to tan, with dark brown saddles along their backs, and spots along their sides.
As adults, gopher snakes have been known to reach 84 inches (7 feet) long, and weigh almost 2000g.
Reticulated pythons are among the world’s largest snakes. They are endemic to South and Southeast Asia, and make popular pets among experienced snake enthusiasts worldwide.
Because the females of this species are so large, they lay the most eggs of any snake species – up to 80 at a time. They take almost three months to hatch, and are independent from the start.
Reticulated python hatchlings, though small compared to adults, are actually some of the largest of all newborn snakes. They are 24 to 30 inches long on average, weighing between 110 and 170 grams. They hatch with their distinct net-like pattern, which is where they get their name.
At one year old, reticulated pythons can be between 70 and 118 inches long (that’s almost 10 feet). Fully grown, they can reach lengths of up to 30 feet!
The last snake we’re going to discuss is one of the most common venomous snakes in the United States. Copperheads are pit vipers, closely related to water moccasins (cottonmouths). They can be found across most of the eastern half of the US.
Like most other North American snakes, copperheads brumate (hibernate) in the winter and breed in the spring.
Copperheads give birth to live babies. Up to 20 young can be born at one time. Newborn copperheads are 7 to 10 inches long, weighing 15 to 30 grams.
Baby copperheads possess the same hourglass-shaped bands as their adult counterparts. Their colors, however, are different. Baby copperheads are grey – their colors become brighter and more coppery as they age.
Interestingly, baby copperheads have a fluorescent yellow-green tail tip, which they lose as adults. This is called a “caudal lure.” According to the British Ecological Society, they wiggle their brightly-colored tails to attract frogs and lizards. They share this trait with their cousins, the water moccasins.
Adult copperhead snakes can reach 24 to 26 inches in length and weigh up to 340 grams.
What to Do If You Find a Baby Snake
America is home to a significant number of wild snakes. Most are harmless, though some are deadly.
If you’re exploring outdoors during the summer, you might come across a tiny newborn snake. What do I do with it?
First, understand that snakes can fend for themselves, even as newborns. All snake species are precocial, meaning that they are born fully developed.
Newborn snakes can navigate their surroundings and hunt right away. There’s no need to interfere with them, or try to move them.
If the snake is a venomous species, it’s already capable of inflicting a dangerous bite. Venomous snakes are born with working fangs, and their venom is just as potent as an adult snake. Just because it’s small, don’t mistake it for harmless.
Even if you’re sure the snake is non-venomous, don’t be tempted to bring it home to keep as a pet. Wild-caught snakes aren’t suited to small enclosures, and are instinctively frightened of humans. What’s more, they’re usually riddled with parasites. It’s best to admire them from a safe distance.