California Kingsnake

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Is the California Kingsnake right for you?

Species group:

Scientific name: Lampropeltis californiae

The Basics:
The California Kingsnake is one of the first snakes to have been bred in captivity on a large scale, and remains extremely popular. Among the most attractive of North America’s serpents, it is hardy, easy to handle and breed, and can be kept in modestly-sized terrariums.

The California Kingsnake is found in California, southern Oregon, western and southern Nevada, southern Utah, Arizona, and northern Mexico (Baja California and Sonora). Formerly snake-less Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands off northwestern Africa is now home to an introduced population of California Kingsnakes.

This highly adaptable creature is equally at home in forests, woodlots, overgrown fields, grasslands, deserts, thorn scrub, swamps, farms, ranches or well-vegetated suburban yards. California Kingsnakes often take up residence under refuse and in abandoned buildings.

Appearance / Health:
California Kingsnake populations vary greatly in appearance, with natural “oddities” being quite common. Most range from brown to black in color, and are marked with white stripes or bands. Hobbyists have produced an astonishing array of color and pattern morphs, as well as hybrids with various Rat Snakes. California Kingsnakes range from 2 ½ to just over 4 feet in length.

Well-cared-for California Kingsnakes are quite hardy, with captive longevities often exceeding 20 and sometimes 30 years. “Blister disease” and other skin infections can take hold if your pet is kept in a damp terrarium, and as with most snakes they may be subject to mites or, more rarely, inclusion body disease, and other ailments.

Behavior / temperament:
Young California Kingsnakes may be defensive, but most calm down quickly and take well to handling. Kingsnakes sometimes develop the unusual habit of nosing one’s hand and then biting down on it. This seems more of a “trial taste” than aggression, as even calm, long-term captives will behave in this manner. As with all snakes, they will also bite when stressed and must be handled with care.

Hatchlings may be raised in 5-10 gallon aquariums, while average-sized adults require a 20-30 gallon tank. The screen top should always be secured with clips or locks. A hide box should always be available. Newspapers, washable terrarium liners, eucalyptus mulch or aspen bedding work well as substrates. Some types of wood chips can lodge in the mouth and cause wounds during feeding; feed your snake in a bare-bottomed enclosure to prevent this.

Ambient temperature: 77-82 F; basking temperature: 85-90 F. Large enclosures are necessary if a thermal gradient (areas of different temperatures) is to be established. Thermal gradients allow snakes to regulate their body temperature by moving from hot to cooler areas.

These powerful constrictors take a surprisingly-wide range of prey, including chipmunks, mice and other rodents, birds and their eggs, frogs, turtle eggs and hatchlings, other snakes, lizards and their eggs, salamanders and large invertebrates. This and relative species have evolved immunity to the venom of rattlesnakes and other pit vipers, and add these to the diet regularly. Pets do fine on a diet comprised solely of mice. If housed in pairs, Kingsnakes should be watched carefully and separated at feeding time, as they favor nothing more than another snake as a meal.

California Kingsnakes sometimes breed without temperature manipulation, but more consistent success will be had if your pets are chilled to 50 F (after a 2 week fast) for 3-5 months. Mating occurs from March to June in most regions, with the eggs being deposited 55-70 days thereafter. Well-fed females may produce 2 or 3 clutches annually. At an incubation temperature of 80-82 and 90-100% humidity, the 12 inch-long youngsters hatch in 50-80 days.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


great eaters, wonderful colors, healthy snake, good temperaments, highly recommended snake


musk alot, best escape artists, master escape artists, quickness, defensive snakes, need large prey


undertank heater, albino king

Helpful California Kingsnake Review

California Kingsnake

From AndreaRobinson Aug 23 2015 2:15PM


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