Have you ever thought about having a king snake as a pet? Snakes as pets seem to be getting around, and not a lot of people are knowledgeable about snakes. Here is some information on king snakes and whether or not they make good pets.
Do king snakes make for good pets? King snakes are good pets. They are docile. They are not poisonous. They live in almost all 50 continental states and live in varied conditions. This makes for very easy captive requirements for any snake owner.
Now that you know that king snakes are actually a good pet snake to have, let’s go over the basics of owning the snake. All animals have a style or way of living, and if you love your snake, you’re gonna want to know how to take care of it.
Choosing a Pet King Snake
In choosing a snake, you’re going to want to know what a healthy snake looks like. You can generally get them at any pet store. One of the things to look for is if they have a firm, rounded body. Basically, if they look like a flat tire, you’re not going to want that because it is not healthy.
They need to have clear eyes. This means checking to see if the eyes look clean with no scars or discharge from the eyes.
Fun fact: The reason they are called king snakes is because they eat other snakes.
The mouth of the snake is important. Make sure that the snake isn’t gasping for air or constantly keeping its mouth open. Also, search the inside of the snake’s mouth. Is it pink? If the mouth is all the same color of pink, then it’s doing alright. Reddened areas may mean there is mouth rot, which you should have checked out.
Check for scabs, scars, unnatural bumps or sores. Also, check for mites. You can look for these kinds of things around the head and the eyes of the snake you are looking at buying. Look for swelling. Anything that seems abnormal probably means that it is not
Even though these snakes are bred docile, they can still be afraid of you. Give them some time and they should settle down soon after you get them.
How Should King Snakes Be Bred?
You want to get a king snake that is captive-bred, parasite-free and being fed on rodents. Generally, you can find snakes that have been bred for generations this way, however long a snake generation is. The most common places to find these kinds of snakes are pet shops, reptile shows or from people who breed snakes.
These snakes hatch from eggs and are somewhere between 8 to 12 inches after being hatched. Adult size on average is 3 to 4 feet in length. Once in a blue moon, they will reach a maximum length of 6 feet.
King snakes live over 20 years (I guess we found our answer to snake generations). The female king snake produces fertile eggs into their early teen years.
How Should King Snakes Be Caged?
One thing that you will come to understand is that these snakes need their room to grow. When they first hatch, all that you will really need is a cage about the size of a shoe box. As they grow to an adult, they will need a 20 gallon or larger cage with an escape-proof opening.
These snakes are smart and tricky. They will find a way out if they can, so make sure that your cage is secure. A general rule I read about was that, if a snake crawls around the parameter of the cage and it can’t reach around more than 2/3 of the enclosure, then it is a good size for the snake.
King snakes will eat each other. If you own multiple king snakes, keep them separated! Either that or have them in breeding groups of one male and several adult females. If you have to have them together, then wait until they are adults and watch them to see if there is any problems or aggression of any kind. When you feed them, feed separately.
Have you ever thought about the lighting or the temperature? It never occurred to me until I was studying for my own snake.
There is no special lighting required for king snakes. Just keep them in a well-lit room, and they will be fine. The only thing I would recommend is that you don’t place them in a spot where the sun will shine on them or the cage. It will become too hot and can overheat and potentially kill your snake.
King snakes thermoregulate out in the wild. That means they move around to find shade or heat to regulate their temperature. They do this because they are cold-blooded animals, meaning that their body temperature becomes that of their surroundings. Obviously, this is a little difficult for them to regulate when they are in a closed area.
There are different options available to you for regulating your pet snake’s temperature. You could use heaters or pads. There are different kinds of heat conductors out there. DO NOT use heat rocks. They will burn your snake and the heat does not spread enough. Hurting your pet snake is the main reason you don’t want to use them.
Lights are one way to have heat. Have it focused on one area or side so the snake can slither where it wants to find the right temperature to be comfortable or even bask. The only problem is that this isn’t an efficient way to use energy. The heat light will warm the air around the area, but not the ground the snake is slithering on.
Another thing is you can find substrates for them. Basically, that’s a fancy word for “floor”. You can find commercial “flooring” for your snake. Avoid things like chemically-treated substrate or oily woods like cedar wood. Use your best judgment as far as snake substrates and beddings go.
If you can’t buy a substrate for whatever reason, then use newspaper or other soft paper things like paper towels. Something soft or smooth. Maybe put a branch in there or a little hidey-hole. Spruce up the place a little, it’s your pet!
What Food Should King Snakes Eat?
Wild king snakes will eat just about any animal small enough that they can swallow it whole and digest it. It usually is something that can be easily overpowered by the snake.
Your snake won’t be as wild, though. In captivity, king snakes are generally fed rodents, more specifically mice. You can buy mice frozen in bulk online from PetSmart or other sources. When you feed your snake, make sure that the mice are completely thawed.
Some snakes should only be given pre-killed mice, but the king snake can be given them dead or alive. Be warned though, adult mice that are not killed can hurt your king snake. A dead meal is a safer meal.
Your snake should be eating once a week. If you want it to grow faster, feed it twice a week. It’s pretty simple. It may not take the second meal, but it won’t hurt to try. Don’t make your snake obese. Reduce feeding it if you feel this is needful.
After your snake has had its dinner, there should be a noticeable lump just a little larger than the normal size of its body. If your snake is new, don’t touch it for a while after it eats. I think I can relate with a snake on this level.
Give your snake fresh water. Only keep it half full because the snake will sit in it and you don’t want it to overflow. You want your cage to be dry.
Handling King Snakes
King snakes have been bred captive for years, but they are naturally wild. It may strike at you or take a defensive stance when you first get it. After a little while, it’ll get used to you.
It may urinate or defecate on you at first. This is because it’s a natural response to make you not eat it. It thinks you’re a predator at first. I would not recommend touching it’s face often.
Don’t handle your snake when it is about to shed. Its eyes will become milky and bluish when it getting ready to shed. After a few days, it’ll shed its skin for a new one and be ready to go again! Enjoy your snake and contact professionals for help with your new pet.
Are king snakes harmful to humans? All varieties of kingsnakes are non-venomous. They are powerful constrictors and generally kill their prey by suffocating the life out of them. They eat other snakes and small animals, including rattlesnakes that are in the same areas as them.
Do pet snakes recognize their owners? Snakes are colorblind and solitary creatures which primarily use chemicals and scents to identify the world around them. They may recognize their owner by his or her scent.
Do king snake bites hurt? King snake bites do not hurt, but the shock of one might shake you up a little. King snake teeth do not do much damage to your skin, but as it may bleed, it is advised that you treat the area with antiseptic to ensure the wound does not become infected.