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Caring for a King Snake

June 01, 2018

Are you considering adopting a snake? A king snake may be a great choice for you, especially for first-time snake owners. A Conyers, GA vet discusses caring for king snakes in this article.


Tri-colored king snakes are likely the most commonly-known variety of king snakes, but they come in many different colors, some which aren’t found in the wild. The tri-colored ones do sometimes cause confusion, as they look like the coral snake, which is venomous and generally not particularly friendly. (Tip: if you’ve forgotten the old rhyme, it goes: ‘Red to yellow, kill a fellow. Red to black, venom lack.’ In some versions, the last part says ‘friend of Jack.’) California king snakes can live about 20 years, or even longer, but most king snakes have a lifespan of around 15 years. As for size, while these pretty serpents can grow over 6 feet long, most pet snakes only get to be about 3-4 feet.


King snakes are very fascinating to watch. As long as they are properly socialized, and handled gently and regularly, they rarely bite. Young snakes may sometimes bite out of fear if they feel threatened, but their bites don’t hurt very much. Ask your vet for tips on taming your scaled buddy.


King snakes aren’t difficult to care for, but they do have some specific environmental requirements. Your scaled buddy’s tank should be between 75-80°F, and should never be warmer than 85°F. One area of the tank should be cooler than the other. Choosing the right substrate is also important. King snakes like to burrow, so if you use reptile carpet or paper, give your pet an extra hide box. Your reptilian pet will also need a hide box and a water bowl. Ask your vet for specific advice on setting up the cage properly.


Wild king snakes feed on a variety of small animals, such as rodents, birds, and even other snakes, but captive ones usually do fine with mice. Baby snakes can eat pinky mice, while larger ones can eat bigger mice. We don’t recommend feeding live mice. For one thing, this is obviously very unpleasant for the mouse. Also, mice do sometimes bite snakes, which can cause serious—and even deadly—infections.

Please call us, your Conyers, GA pet hospital, for more information on king snakes. We provide excellent veterinary care for reptiles!

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