California Kingsnakes Care For Beginners

 California Kingsnakes Care For Beginners

Are California Kingsnakes Good Pets?


California Kingsnakes are great pets for beginners because they don’t grow to be very big and their maintenance is pretty easy. Their temperaments are also docile and they come in a variety of colors that make them very appealing. 



One reason why California kingsnakes are great for beginners is because they don’t grow very large. Kingsnakes only grow to 3-4 feet long. This small snake does not require a large enclosure. Young kingsnakes only need a 10-gallon enclosure. Once they are around a year old, then they need a 30 or 40-gallon enclosure. We recommend using Exo terra or Zilla brand enclosures because they provide well-ventilated glass enclosures. These enclosures also have seals on the doors and roof to prevent your snake from escaping. 


A popular brand for the substrate is Zoo Med. This brand has different beddings that you can use for your kingsnake. Repti bark, eco earth, and aspen are very popular for kingsnakes. These substrates are also free of harsh chemicals that could potentially harm your snake.


Once you have the bedding laid out you need to provide a hide for your kingsnake. The hide can be a rock cave, driftwood, or a small log. Your snake needs someplace to go when they need to cool off. California kingsnakes like to climb too. We recommend adding a couple of branches in the enclosure so they can climb. Adding all of these decorations in the enclosure will replicate the proper California kingsnake habitat. 



The enclosure needs a hot side and a cool side. This means that you only need a heat bulb over one side of the enclosure. The heated side should be around 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything warmer will be way too hot. The cool side needs to be between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. A hide should be kept on the cool side as well. A digital thermometer would be important to purchase as well so you can accurately monitor the temperature. 


UVB lighting is not required, but it may be beneficial if you keep your snake in a darker room or away from any windows. They need their lights on around 10 hours a day to help get the proper amount of sunlight.  If you are worried about the temperature being too cool in the enclosure at night, you can always use a heating pad under the enclosure to keep it warm. 

Food And Water


California Kingsnakes are great pets for beginner owners because they are not aggressive with people during feeding. Kingsnakes will need to eat store-bought rodents. The rodents can be fed live or frozen-thawed. Smaller rodents are an appropriate size for kingsnakes. The rodent should not be more than double the size of your snake’s biggest point. Just stick to small mice to be safe.


The safest way to feed your king snake is to use tongs. Your snake will go for the rodent and not the tongs. The tongs also prevent you from needing to use your hand to feed your snake. Tongs are the safest and cleanest way of feeding. Kingsnakes only need to eat 1-2 times a week.


Water is important to keep in the enclosure for hydration and humidity. A shallow water dish that is half an inch deep at the most is a good size. Your snake will drink from it but mostly soak in the water. The water needs to be changed daily because it will get dirty quickly. The water bowl should be scrubbed down once a week as well to prevent bacteria build-up. Avoid using harsh chemicals to clean the bowl. These chemicals can be harmful to your snake.



Humidity levels are easy to maintain making California kingsnakes great pets for beginner owners. As we mentioned before, the shallow water dish will help maintain humidity in the enclosure. A small daily misting of the enclosure is also necessary to keep the humidity up. California kingsnake humidity levels need to be around 60% to shed properly. The substrate that we recommended also helps retain some moisture for tank humidity. 



Another reason why California kingsnakes are great for beginners is because of their temperament. A California kingsnake temperament is very docile. You should still handle your king snake gently and several times a week to create trust. They will get used to you and not mind being handled for a few minutes. All you need to do is properly support their bodies and avoid touching their heads. 


Do not handle your snake right after feeding. They will regurgitate their food and become extremely stressed. Give them a few days after their shed cycle to hold them as well and do not pull off their shed. 


If they are in an “S” shape, give them some space. This is a defensive shape that means that they will strike. This will rarely happen with your kingsnake if they are comfortable with you. 


Avoid housing more than two kingsnakes together because they can be defensive over food and they may try to eat each other. 

Wrapping Up


California Kingsnakes are great pets for beginners because of their easy maintenance and temperament. They only need to be fed 1-2 times a week and maintaining humidity is easy as well. They do not require much in their enclosures and they stay fairly small. We recommend getting a kingsnake to new snake owners. 

Jade Messieh

Proud bearded dragon, tortoise, crested gecko, and green tree python mom. I've always been passionate about animals and hope to help other reptile & amphibian enthusiasts along their journey!

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