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King Snake

Name Lampropeltis Getula sp.
Type Ground dwelling snake, burrows & tunnels but can and will climb
Where am I from USA & Mexico
Handle-ability Excellent great temperament
Length/size up to 6ft
Suitable for Beginner
Life span Ave 15 years


King snakes housing can range from a simple set up with newspaper for substrate and cardboard box hides to an elaborate naturalistic setup in a vivarium. There are a few basics to get right though. The general rule of thumb is to give your king snake a container/vivarium in which the length plus the width is about the same length as the snake. Hatchlings will do better in a smaller vivarium or plastic box to start with. A larger vivarium can be used, as long as plenty of hiding places are provided. At least one hide will be required at both the warm and the cool end of the vivarium, to allow your king snake to thermo-regulate whilst feeling secure. One of the most popular substrates for king snakes is Aspen, which looks good, allows the king to burrow and is easily spot cleaned other substrates such as coconut chips, bark chips or aubiose can also be used. King snakes can climb, if given the opportunity. King snakes are ophiophagous and specialise in eating other snakes, so it’s best to keep them on their own.


King snakes come from temperate North America, and so high temperatures are not required. The cool end of the viv can be room temperature, with a hot spot of 25-28C being adequate. This is best provided by a heatmat covering no more than a third to half of the enclosures floorspace. Always make sure that heatmats are protected by a suitable thermostat to avoid burns to your snake. It is best to always check temperatures accurately with a digital thermometer.


King snakes do not require any special lighting, or UVb light. Unless in a particularly dark room, most people keep their kings without lighting, but to allow better viewing lights can be used, and will be of no detriment to the snake, as long as they do not increase the ambient temperature too much. Any lights used should be guarded and on a thermostat.


King snakes do well at normal room humidity of around 50%. Always provide a bowl of water large enough for your snake to bath in if it wants to. A quick spray of the vivarium when your snake is about to shed may be beneficial.


King snakes are strictly carnivorous, and in the wild eat rodents, amphibians and other reptiles(specialising in other snakes). In captivity, they are usually fed whole mice of the appropriate size. Pinky mice are fed to hatchlings, and the size increased as the snake grows. A king snake only requires feeding once every week on an item no bigger than 1.5 times the size of the widest part of the snake. It is not necessary to supplement the diet of a king snake, but an occasional vitamin supplement such as Nutrobal may be administered by dipping the rump of the rodent in the supplement, and some keepers feel that this is beneficial.


King snakes are fairly easy to breed. Introduce the female to the male in spring. Mating usually occurs fairly quickly. A few weeks later the female will lay a clutch of between 5 and 24 eggs in a moss filled hide put in especially for the purpose. The eggs are best incubated in the damp moss in which they were layed, at about 28C(84f). After a couple of months the baby kings will hatch from the eggs.

Buying Tips

Ask to handle the snake to gauge it's health and temperament. Baby king snakes can be fast and occasionally nippy, and may also musk, but they grow out of this with regular handling. Look for clear skin which is taught and firm, and smooth scales, clear bright eyes, and no faecal staining around the vent. A healthy king snake should move easily, have no clicking, wheeze or hiss when it breathes, and should not have a protruding spine.


Kingsnakes have a variety of pattern and colour morphs including Albino and Striped.