- Scientific Name: Lampropeltis getula californiae
- Lifespan: Approximately 20 years based on care
- Handling:King snakes are usually tame and are tolerable towards being handled. As always, try to stay away from handling your snake for two days after feeding to assure proper digestion. Some snakes may be defensive and try to defend itself by trying to snap at you. Be cautious when handling your snake for the first time.
- Size: Approximately 3 – 4 feet with some reaching a little over 6 feet
- Care: Easy
- Community: You should never house more than one King Snake together as King Snakes sometimes are cannibalistic, if not fed enough.
- Lifestyle: Diurnal, active during the day.
The size tank depends on the size of your king snake. Below are two tank sizes that you will be needing for juvenile and adult king snakes.
- Baby and Juveniles: A 10 – 20 gallon tank is recommended
- Adults: A 30 – 70 gallon tank is recommended (depending on snakes size)
Remember, no enclosure is too large for a king snake. Larger is always better!
Note: Lids and lid locks are necessary because king snakes can and will try to get out of the tank. If you do not have lid locks, simply put a heavy object on the corners of the lid.
King snakes need two hides. One being on the warm side of the tank, and the other being on the cool side of the tank. This gives your king snake an option to sleep in an area to warm up or cool down. Having only one hide in an enclosure limits your snake to where he can sleep or retreat to.
You may add foliage to add a naturalistic look and comfort for your snake. You may use live or fake plants. Live pants help with humidity levels, but also need special lighting to thrive. You are also going to have to trim the live plants every now and then to avoid your plants from taking over the enclosure. But if reaching certain humidity levels is a problem, live plants will definitely help.
Lighting & Heating
King snakes do not need a UVB bulb. All they need is a source of heat through a heat lamp or a heat pad (which goes on from the outside of the tank, not the inside). Some people use heat rocks, but it is not recommended due to some incidents of a few snakes getting burned on their underside from using them.
When measuring temperatures, it’s best to use digital thermometers. Dial thermometers tend to give off inaccurate measurements.
Cool side: 70 – 75 °F
Warm side: 85 °F
No lights are necessary. The temperatures should be between 70 – 75 °F. If it is too cold to achieve this temperature without lights, I recommend using a heat emitter or a reptile infrared heat light. Make sure to check temps at night, to reassure the temps are good.
Feeding & Diet
Your king snake will eat a diet consisting of small rodents like mice and rats.
Frozen & Thawed Mice or Rats
Here at clubfauna, we strive for the most humane feedings possible, which is why you should try frozen feeders first. Feeding frozen (pre-killed) rodents will benefit you, the feeder, and the king snake. It will benefit you because you won’t have to keep going to the store to buy live feeders or deal with a living rodent if your snake isn’t hungry. It will benefit your snake by allowing your king snake to easily consume the prey without a struggle (some rodents bite and scratch). Lastly, it will benefit the feeder by not having to endure a painful death. Obviously, the choice to feed frozen & thawed vs live rodents is up to you, but please take all the benefits into consideration when deciding. Frozen meals should be warmed according to the package directions. You may feed them by using long tongues and dangling the mice/rat to imitate movement. This method can decrease the aggression build up in a king snake making him less aggressive.
Live Mice or Rats
You can throw the live feeder into the tank and let the king snake attack it on its own or you can dangle the live feeder by its tail using tongues or your hand (if you’re experienced) and let the snake attack it that way. However, this method does have a downfall. Live feeders have a tendency (like any other living thing that’s being eaten) to do everything possible to get away. This can cause harm or discomfort to your king snake. The live feeder may scratch your king snakes face with its nails or even try to bite your king snake.
If in 20 minutes, the feeder has not been eaten, the King Snake will usually not eat it that day. Never leave a feeder in a snakes enclosure for a longer period of time or overnight. This could cause harm, stress, and problems to your King Snake. Simply remove the feeder to its separate enclosure along with food and water, and try again in three days.
Humidity should be maintained around 40 – 60%. You can achieve this by spraying down the enclosure twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. You may also add live plants to help increase humidity levels. You can easily measure the humidity percentages by using a digital hygrometer (humidity gauge). Dial hygrometers tend to give off inaccurate measurements.
Hydration is a must. The best way to provide hydration is to put a water bowl in your king snake’s enclosure. Make sure to choose one that is big enough for your snake to submerge itself in, if it wants to.
Unprinted newspaper and paper towels may be used for a cheaper substrate. Repti bark, cypress mulch, coconut husk, and aspen shavings are an alternative to add a little more naturalistic look to the enclosure. However, it is a little more expensive. But, this will help with the more “at home” feeling for your King Snake. It will also help with humidity levels. Sand is not recommended as a substrate.
Note: The information on this king snake care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care.