Are snakes suitable pets for children?
It's a difficult question to answer, and really depends on the maturity level of your child and how willing you are to get involved.
I first started keeping reptiles at around 10 years of age and have kept them ever since.
Infact, it's one of the things I'm most passionate about in life.
As I child I suffered from serious athsma and so pets with fur were out, so my parents decided to let me keep reptiles, amphibians and fish with supervision.
In the end of course what started out as one single lizard and a few goldfish ended up as an all-consuming passion that takes up much of my free time and that I still find as exciting today as I did on day one.
I have certainly found keeping snakes has encouraged me to read and learn and make friends when asking pet store owners and other snake keepers for advice. This can surely only be good for children.
Snakes have additional benefits such as the small amount of time required each week on maintenance so they can be easily managed around school and homework.
They are generally safe for children to handle (though supervision is always recommended) and once set up are easy to keep.
Snakes are also a great way to teach a child responsibility.
On the other hand they will live much longer than a hamster or gerbil - 10 years or more is not ususual so if your child gets bored you've got a lot of years ahead cleaning and feeding the snake yourself.
Don't forget though - in all honesty - that snakes are definately not the cheapest of pets for a child.
The call is yours - but my own opinion is that so long as you're willing to supervise and feel comfortable with cleaning, handling and feeding a snake, such a pet can be a very positive thing for a child.