The king snake’s name (Lampropeltis getula)
comes from the fact that they are able to kill and eat venomous snakes, and the venom will have no effect on them. The king snake is not poisonous.
This snake is recommended for the beginning hobbyist because of its beauty, variety of colors and patterns, moderate size, ease of maintenance, and relative docility. Their bodies do not obtain the thickness of large snakes, such as pythons and boas.
As with all purchases, we try to educate you as the consumer, and we are here to help with any questions or concerns that may come up. Please contact the Reptile Room at 717-299-5691.
Clean water must be provided daily. Food usually consists of rodents. Pinkie mice or small hatchlings moving up to small mice. These can be frozen then thawed or stunned then fed to the snake. We suggest that the mice be sprinkled with vitamins first. Always remove mice if they are not eaten by the snake, mice can actually harm or kill the snake. When a snake is not hungry, they lose their aggressive nature and are actually afraid of the mouse, and a mouse bite can become infected and kill the snake.
Do not keep king snakes with other snakes, they will attempt to eat them. This is their natural instinct.
Feed adult snakes once a week, twice weekly for those eating pinkies, fuzzies or hoppers. During the colder months, the King snake’s appetite may slow. Don’t worry unless the snake becomes thin.
Baby king snakes should be fed every 4 to 5 days since they are growing fast at this age. Some baby king snakes are reluctant to feed on rodents and may have to be encouraged to eat first by first offering a small anole lizard or a pinkie scented with a lizard. We usually feed the small snakes by placing them in paper bags and feeding them, this seems to work better!
It is very important that you put your snake into the water bowl
and offer it water. Sometimes a snake which is moved from one cage to another is stressed and does not find the water; small snakes especially will dehydrate quickly. We suggest putting the snake in every other day, and after eating put them in the water. Keep doing this until you actually see them drinking on their own. A sign of dehydration is tight dry skin.
Provide a place for your snake to shed by placing cage furniture
for it to rub against. If your snake sheds in little pieces, it is probably too dry in the cage, or your snake has an illness. Adding a small area of damp moss
may help. Don’t ignore this problem. It is very important that your snake sheds completely. This can be helped by a medication
and soaking. If you notice any signs of illness, please act quickly, a sick snake will not be flicking it’s tongue much, have very weak muscle tone, mucous around the mouth or lay stretched out all the time instead of being coiled. These are just some of the signs to look for. Remember that reptiles are experts at hiding illnesses.
Housing for the king snake can be as simple as a basic aquarium. We do not suggest pine or cedar chips because it can become lodged in the animals mouth when the snake is fed, causing a mouth disease, it can also be irritating to the sensitive respiratory system of the snake. Be sure to have a tight fitting lid
on your tank since these snakes are able to flatten their heads and squeeze out of the smallest spaces.
Heating & Lighting Requirements
The key is to provide a range of temperature gradients that will allow a snake to select the temperature which suits it best. A temperature gradient of 77° to 86° is suitable for most king snakes. A shelter
should be placed in the cool area and the heated area -- king snakes like to hide and it makes them feel more secure. The nighttime temperature can be allowed to drop into the mid to low 70’s. We recommend an under the tank heater
, which is to be kept on at all times (except on hot summer days), and a full spectrum light
which should be left on for 12 hours a day and turned off at night. If the tank dips below 70° at night with just the under the tank heater, you may want to use a nighttime bulb
(a special bulb that is not seen by the snake). Allowing for a 12 hour dark period helps the snake get an idea of a natural light and dark system. A 7% fluorescent
is beneficial for improving the colors of the snake and aiding in digestion. Heat is necessary for all reptiles to digest their food.
Always be gentle with your snake, do not squeeze. Do not attempt to handle your snake before it has eaten at least twice. Handling is stressful for many animals and should be avoided at least until the animal is comfortable enough to eat in his new home. Be careful when handling your snake when it is shedding since they are not able to see as well and may be more aggressive. Always wash your hands after handling.
It is critical to know the temperature inside your tank! Knowing that the tank is hot is not enough. Keeping an animal too hot can cause overheating and death in a matter of minutes. Keeping an animal too cool can cause trouble with digestion, weakening of the immune system and trouble with normal body functions. Put a thermometer
inside the tank and monitor the temperature before putting the snake inside the tank.
When you feed the snake, remember to keep the food small so the snake does not have trouble swallowing the food and so the snake does not regurgitate its food. If you feed thawed frozen food items, make sure the food is completely thawed before you offer it to the animal. Feeding even a partially frozen food item can cause the snake to go into shock from the temperature change.
If you notice tiny external parasites, it is important to remove these mites
. If you notice any signs of illness, seek treatment immediately. Most animals are very good at hiding their illnesses until it is in an advanced stage. We recommend vet checkups for all reptiles and we strongly suggest purchasing a book
about your new pet.
Putting an animal in a small cage will not prevent the animal from growing but it will cause stress. Being in a small cage
will also make it difficult to achieve a temperature gradient for the snake, a heated side and a cooler side is necessary so the animal can cool off and heat up when it needs to.