What Is an Emotional Support Snake (And How They Can Help)

Emotional support animals continue to rise in popularity because they can treat someone who has a mental health disorder. While the most common emotional support animals are dogs, cats, and small rodents, any animal can be an ESA as long as they behave properly. In fact, you can even get an emotional support snake if you have an affinity for snakes,  and they keep you calm.

While an emotional support snake is a great choice for some, they’re not for everyone. Whether you have a snake you want to register as an ESA, or if you’re curious about an ESA snake being right for you, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn more about ESA snakes.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

An emotional support animal is a companion that helps you feel more calm and can treat mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and even loneliness. An ESA provides these benefits by staying with you in your home and being there for you. Depending on the type of emotional support animal, you can also train them to apply deep pressure therapy (DPT).

Emotional support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and some other laws that prevent landlords from discriminating against you. Therefore, you can live in non-pet-friendly housing with an emotional support animal.

What Types of Animals Can Be Emotional Support Animals?

Many types of animals can be an ESA. There are few rules against animals being an ESA, so it comes down to how well the animal behaves, how it treats the public, and if it provides you with comfort. That said, some of the most common ESA types are listed below:

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Birds
  • Hamsters
  • Mice
  • Rabbits
  • Mini horses
  • Ponies
  • Chickens

Additionally, snakes can also be an ESA if you have the right breed and the means to care for them. As long as it treats your mental health condition and doesn’t harm or bother others, you don’t have to worry about too many restrictions.

Who Qualifies for an Emotional Support Snake?

Emotional support animals can be given to people who suffer from a plethora of problems, and it’s not always confined to mental health problems. In fact, learning disabilities and mood disorders can even qualify for an emotional support snake. That said, the most common reasons to get an ESA are found below:

  • Mental health problems like anxiety, depression, stress, panic attacks
  • Problems with mood changes and health conditions like bipolar disorder
  • Problems learning or focusing
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Motor skill problems

These are only some of the conditions that qualify for an emotional support snake. Speak with your doctor or a licensed mental health professional to see if you qualify.

Is a Snake a Good Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support snakes can make great ESAs. Having your snake in your home can help you treat conditions like anxiety, depression, stress, and loneliness and improve your sleep quality as well. You can also hold most snakes, so they suit people who want to touch or hold their ESA. That said, emotional support snakes aren’t for everyone. If you dislike snakes or don’t want them near you, going with a snake is not a good idea.

Who Should Have an Emotional Support Snake?

Emotional support snakes are great companions, but only for the right person. For example, someone who wants to hold a cat or have a dog that interacts with them shouldn’t adopt an emotional support snake because they’re less friendly.

Snakes are best suited for people who don’t need an animal to play with or interact with all that often. What’s more, snakes are the ideal choice if you don’t want to deal with barking, meowing, or other noises. Plus, you don’t need to be home as often because caring for snakes isn’t challenging compared to cats, dogs, or other emotional support animals.

The last thing to note is that a snake’s diet can involve eating live or frozen mice. For some, this diet can be too stressful, so you should avoid an emotional support snake if you don’t like to see things like that.

How Much Is an Emotional Support Snake?

Snakes will cost around $50 to $300,  but that depends entirely on the breed of snake. This is just for the snake and does not include any other costs, so expect to pay a little more than that to have a fully registered emotional support snake.

Another thing you have to pay for is the terrarium. Snakes need these to survive, and you may even need to get heat lamps. On average, expect to pay around $250 to $300 to set up the terrarium. From there, expect to pay around $200 to $300 for food, cleaning supplies, and general upkeep.

The last thing you need to pay for is the ESA letter. Typically, an ESA letter will only cost around $100. However, if you meet with someone in person, you might have to pay for the hour for the session, or you might be at the whim of your insurance company.

Overall, aside from the start-up costs, emotional support snakes aren’t expensive compared to other ESAs. For example, cats and dogs are much more expensive to care for over the course of a year than a snake.

What Are the Benefits of an Emotional Support Snake?

Emotional support snakes come with many benefits that you won’t find with other ESAs. These benefits can range from something simple to something you might not have even considered. Learn more about what makes snakes good ESAs below.

Snakes Don’t Have an Odor

One of the biggest reasons to consider an emotional support snake is because of the lack of smell. Most snakes don’t smell and won’t make a mess in your apartment that can draw the attention of other tenants. Therefore, that’s one less thing that you have to worry about.

Snakes Are Easy to Care For

Compared to some other ESAs, snakes are a breeze to care for. You don’t need to feed them that often, and they mostly stay in their terrarium. That said, you can also play with them if they like you, so it’s the best of both worlds when you adopt an emotional support snake.

Snakes Are Hypoallergenic

Another benefit of an emotional support snake is that they’re hypoallergenic. This means that other tenants won’t have allergic reactions to them, so you don’t have to worry about complaints to your landlord because cat hair got in the ventilation system.

Snakes Are Quiet

Last but not least, snakes are quiet animals. They may hiss sometimes, but there’s a good chance that nobody will hear that through a wall. This means that you don’t have to worry about barking or meowing, which can lead to you getting evicted.

How to Register an Emotional Support Snake

If you want to have an emotional support snake, you need to register them. You’ll need an ESA letter to prove that you need the snake for a mental health condition, and you have to provide some information about yourself and the animal. Follow the steps below to register your emotional support snake.

Step 1: Choose the Right Snake

There are dozens of snake breeds to choose from, and each snake can have a unique personality. That said, some snakes are better than others when it comes to ESA work. For example, you don’t want an aggressive python that’s hissing at you or your neighbors. You also don’t want a constrictor snake that tries to harm you in your sleep if it escapes its enclosure.

Typically, the best snake breed for an emotional support snake is a corn snake. They’re laid-back snakes that don’t mind being held, and they don’t usually bite or constrict. Plus, they’re easy to care for and aren’t difficult to feed.

Some other good snake breeds for ESA work include:

  • Ball Pythons: Known for their docile nature, despite being a python
  • Rubber Boas: Known for their calm behavior, and they don’t usually bite
  • Rosy Boas: Calm snakes that won’t bite unless they’re underground in their enclosure
  • King Snakes: Can enjoy being handled and spending time with you once they bond with you

Garter, hognose, and egg-eater snakes can also be good choices for an emotional support snake.

Step 2: Fill Out an ESA Letter Application

The next step is to fill out an ESA application. This part is simple, and you can even apply for an ESA online when you work with a reputable organization like US Service Animals. To fill out the application, you need to provide information about yourself, your animal, and much more. When it comes to information about yourself you need to include the following:

  • Your full name
  • Your email address
  • Your phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Where you live (state and city)

Once you enter this information, you can move on to the next part of the form. During this phase, you need to provide information about your emotional support snake that includes:

  • The animals name
  • Its height
  • weight
  • Temperament

You may also have to provide additional information depending on the type of snake.

The last part of the ESA form is focused on accessories. For an ESA, snake accessories aren’t necessary, but there’s no harm in looking at some of the options.

Step 3: Speak With a Licensed Mental Health Professional

Once all of your forms are filled out it’s time to speak with a mental health professional. Usually, this is done with your therapist or physician, but you can get it done for much cheaper online. US Service Animals pairs you with qualified mental health professionals who can help you get approved for an ESA.

Once you connect with a professional, you have to take a call with them. The call usually ranges from 15 minutes to about an hour, but this depends on the type of support you need. Keep in mind that they will ask important questions about your condition, how you manage it, and why you think an ESA will help. Thankfully, this whole process, down the scheduling, can be done online.

Step 4: Wait for Your ESA Letter to Arrive

The last step is to wait for your ESA letter to arrive. This isn’t something that happens right away, so you need to be patient. When you work with US Service Animals the process takes about 1-2 weeks. However, the process can be faster when you expedite the process. This is more expensive, so make sure you weigh the options.

During this period, the therapist must also determine if you qualify, so your information will be reviewed. You’ll hear back before the letter is sent out so you’ll know if you qualify.

Step 5: Present the ESA Letter to Your Landlord

Even if your ESA snake is registered and you have a letter, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. You need to have your ESA letter available because landlords do have the right to ask. While you’re protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords do have a right to ask for your letter and remove the animal from their property if you can’t present the letter. For this reason, it’s important to have the letter available as a PDF before the physical copy comes in the mail.

Tips for Living With an Emotional Support Snake

Emotional support snakes aren’t like cats, dogs, or other animals. As clever and slithery reptiles, you need to take some extra precautions when living with an ESA snake to avoid upsetting your landlord and other tenants. Follow our tips below for the best practices.

Keep Your Emotional Support Snake in a Terrarium

Emotional support snakes are easy to care for, but that doesn’t mean you can leave them unsupervised, especially in apartments. When you have an ESA snake, make sure they remain in their terrarium. It’s important to avoid letting them out because if they go through vents or wedge themselves into furniture, it can cause damage to the property or scare other guests. Unfortunately, this could result in your eviction. Therefore, always supervise your snake when they’re not in a terrarium and make sure they can’t escape.

Don’t Let Your Emotional Support Snake Outside

This tip might sound similar to the previous one, but you should avoid letting your snake outdoors. While you may find your snake cute, other tenants might not, and some might even be scared of snakes. If enough people complain, it can draw attention to your situation and force your landlord to act. Therefore, we recommend keeping your emotional support snake to yourself unless you bring it up around other tenants first.

Register an Emotional Support Snake Today

Emotional support snakes can be great for people who use them for comfort. If your snake is well-behaved, confined to a tank, and doesn’t harm or scare anyone, there’s no harm in registering your ESA snake. That said, make sure you follow our tips for living with an ESA snake and register your ESA to avoid any complications. We offer plenty of online resources to help you learn more about other types of ESAs as well.