King Snakes include some of the most beautiful subspecies of any genus and they are easy to keep in captivity which explains why they are incredibly popular with reptile hobbyists. The genus of King Snakes contains an incredible variety snakes that have a large range of sizes and habitats. King Snakes come from grasslands, farmlands, pine and deciduous forests and generally reach adult sizes all the way from 2 to 5 feet. For these reasons, it is difficult to provide a single care sheet for all species and subspecies of King Snakes, but below is a basic outline of how to keep your King Snake happy and healthy.
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You should NEVER house more than one King Snake together as King Snakes sometimes are cannibalistic.
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Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding is generally the best substrate for King Snakes. Reptile keepers also use Zoo Med Repti Bark, Zoo Med Forest Floor Cypress Bedding or Zoo Med Eco Earth. Baby King Snakes can also be kept on paper towels or similar product until they become juveniles. Whichever you decide to use, stick to well-known products designed for use with reptiles and be careful of some commercial aspen brands as they may contain high amounts of dust or other contaminants that that can be harmful to your pet.
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As with all reptiles, King Snakes need a thermal gradient consisting of a warm side (86° F) and a cool side (78° F). The best way to heat your King Snake’s enclosure is with a combination of heat mat and ceramic heat emitter. We recommend an under tank heat mat and Infrared Ceramic Heat Emitter. The heat mat and ceramic heat emitter should be on one side while the other side should not have any heat source. We recommend controlling the ceramic emitter with a thermostat and monitoring the temperatures with a thermometer.
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Like all reptiles and amphibians,
King Snakes shed their entire skin all at once. Babies shed more often than adults because as babies they outgrow their skin faster. You'll note shedding time when your snake's eyes turn a shade of blue and become cloudy.
Snakes normally shed their skin easily but sometimes they have issues if they do not have the proper humidity while shedding. For this reason, it is important to maintain a decent amount of humidity in the cage by misting a couple times a day. This is especially true around shedding time. Providing a moist shelter is another way to ensure necessary humidity during shedding. Use moistened Sphagnum Moss or Zoo Med Forest Floor Cypress inside your snake’s hide.
You need to check your snake after it has shed to make sure it was able to peel all the skin off, especially around the eyes. If unshed skin is not removed promptly serious health issues can form. If your King Snake has retained skin after shedding you can place the snake in a plastic container lined with warm, wet paper towels with the container lid on or soak the snake in warm water. Let the snake stay in the container or warm water for approximately 30 minutes. The high humidity in the container or using the soaking method should loosen the skin enough to allow you to remove it easily with a pair of tweezers. If the skin has not loosened enough, reheat the paper towels with warm water and provide another 30 minute session. NEVER use hot water as this can burn your snake.
Is feeding live or pre-killed better? Opinions vary on this subject but we are emphatic that thawed frozen rodents are a much better option. First, feeding thawed rodents is easier and second it's substantially less expensive because you can purchase rats or mice in bulk and then store them in the freezer. More importantly, it is significantly safer for the snake. The bottom line is a thawed prey mouse or rat will never bite or chew on your snake in defense. Nasty rodent bites have been inflicted on snakes when fed live rodents. We suggest you play it smart and go with feeding thawed prey items.
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