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California King Snake Care Sheets
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Care Sheet for King Snakes

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 4.45    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 03/01/2005

Main Category:


Sub Category:

King Snakes

 Care Sheet Submitted By:

Gina Marie

Years Experience:

5 to 10 Years


California King Snake

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:

This includes any type; banded, speckled or striped. Also, this care sheet can be used for any type of milksnake.

Sexing and Characteristics:

Sexing is usually recommended once the snake has reached adult and is done by a reputable vet with herp experience.

Mostly Active During:


Substrate and Water Needs:

I found that the best substrate is Zoo Med brand cage carpet. The carpet comes in a variety of colors, is already sized to fit the aquarium (though I have found that you might need to trim a bit since your snake will love to hide beneath the carpet if itís not snug) and the carpet is very easy to clean. Newspaper works as well but it does not look appealing. Avoid sand as your snake may scoop some into his/her mouth while feeding and it may cause problems if your snake has just come out of their water dish.

If you notice that your snake spends considerable amounts of time submerged in his/her water dish, this could be a sign that he or she has a mite problem. If this is the case, you will notice small black grain looking things in your snakeís water. Most pet stores / specialty stores carry mite spray. Itís always recommended to consult your vet about this problem. If not taken care of immediately, your snake could become very, very ill and will die.

Lighting and UVB:

I use a heating lamp during the day to keep the temperature up and to provide the snake with the UV rays he/she needs.

Temperatures and Humidity:

Temperature is VERY important. During the day, I tend to keep the warm side of the cage between 85 -90 degrees. The cooler side between 75 - 80 degrees. Humidity should be lower for king snakes as these are desert dwelling snakes. Between 45 -50 is best.

I have a screen top to my aquarium. I find that alot of heat escapes through the top causing the temperature to always drop. The best thing to do in this case is to cover up the screen but leave a small bit of space for the heat lamp and to allow the snake to breathe. This works well at night to keep the temperature regulated once I turn the lamp off.

Heating and Equipment:

I use a heating pad that is mounted on the underside of the tank. This usually keeps the temperature on the warm side decent with the use of the heating lamp for a few hours during the day. I do not turn the heating pad off at night. Remember, in the desert, sand and rock still radiate heat in the evening hours.

Caging Provided:

My striped king snake is 27 inches long and I use a 10 gallon aquarium. Though he is starting to outgrow it and I am moving him up to a 20 gallon aquarium. You should not need anything larger even when your snake is full grown. But that is completely up to you.



Description of Diet:

As a hatch-ling, your snake will eat a small pinkie up to two times a week. At 27 inches, my snake is eating two rat pups once every 8 days. Full grown king snakes will eat a mouse once a week.

I feed my snake live rat pups / mice. He will not accept frozen or live kill. There is a disadvantage to this. Iíve noticed that full grown mice have a tendency to bite the snake (a few scales are missing). These will grow back. Now, if I am feeding him a full grown mouse, I toss it into a plastic bag and swing it around a bit to disorientate it (I must look silly doing it but hey, it prevents biting).

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:

This is not needed unless your snake has certain medical needs.


King Snakes do not need a whole lot of maintenance as long as you keep the temperature right, change their water daily, clean their cage weekly (thoroughly cleaning all substrate) and feeding on a regular schedule.

Some Words on this Species:

When purchasing a king snake, always ask to see the snake before they drop it into a small carrying sack. Run your hand along itís body to make sure that it does not feel underweight. If you look at your hand and notice tiny insects, the snake has mites. DO NOT purchase the snake. Chances are every reptile in the store will have mites as well.

With proper care and regular handling, your king snake will be a wonderful companion. They are beautiful and are very docile if given loving care. I would not recommend a young king snake for a child because they have a habit of being a bit nippy.
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The information contain in these care sheets represents only the opinions and husbandry care of members and therefore is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate or reflects the advice or opinions of It is always advised to seek additional information or the advice of a qualified veterinarian or qualified reptile dealer. It is also advisable for you to a good amount of research before implementing any of the ideas and care described in these care sheets. We also recommend you ask many questions in their related forums before acting on any information.

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