Small snakes are relatively easy to care for, making them low-maintenance pets. Milk snakes, as an example, are brightly-coloured because they have the same colours as larger, more dangerous snakes to protect themselves in the wild, so the colours are attractive as a pet snake.
Snakes use their tongue to sense what is around them, so that the flicking of the tongue in and out of their mouths is completely normal and not a reason for alarm. Snakes have poor eyesight and poor if any hearing so the tongue-flicking is a vital activity.
If handling the snake, support the snake along the length of its body and not by its neck or tail to avoid breaking bones and causing serious damage. Many snakes, especially the smaller pet varieties, can be conditioned over time to handling by feeding them after handling. Snake handling should only be done rarely as a general practice as it can damage the snake skin.
Snake food varies by type from earthworms for many of the smaller types, through to small rodents and lizards for the larger types. The prey can be live or recently-killed and can be kept frozen, though fresh prey is advisable. Snakes usually only need to be fed once per week, but this should be checked when acquiring a new snake as there are variations.
Snakes are usually best kept in tanks often known as terrariums, with tree bark on the floor and a secure lid, often with lighting though heat is best administered through a heater panel under the floor of the terrarium so that the snake can lie in a warm or cooler area when required. When feeding the snake, it is a good idea to put it on paper so that none of the surrounding material is digested as well, which could cause problems.
Snakes slough, or shed their skin, less frequently as they grow older. Humid surroundings are especially advisable during these periods to help the skin shed.
As a general rule, though there are exceptions, keep snakes separate. They live solitary lives in the wild except for mating; left together for any length of time one may well be eaten by the other!