King snakes are slim but powerful strangler snakes. The color of the head usually differs from the rest of the body. The basic color is often black, brown, orange or gray. Brown-red or yellow-orange can also occur. By the way, the color combinations are a trick used by nature to protect yourself from enemies.
The length of the animal can vary greatly depending on the species. There are species that are only 35 cm long and some that can measure as much as 2 meters.
Due to its diverse color spectrum, king snakes are among the most frequently kept species. It is precisely for this reason that it has been successfully bred for several years.
The best-known subspecies of the king snake include:
- the chain snake
- the milk snake or triangular snake
- the gray-banded king snake
- the Mexican Black Kingsnake
Origin and history
The main distribution area of the king snake stretches from Canada over the USA to Mexico. The species already mentioned are not subject to species protection law in Germany.
The natural habitat of the king snakes include deciduous and pine forests. But it also feels at home in desert-like or rocky dry areas.
The appearance of the king snake
King snakes are very showy animals. Their coloring immediately catches the eye. They have a fairly slim body and usually have a brightly colored stripe pattern in red, orange, apricot, black, white, yellow, gray or brown. Due to their distinctive pattern, king snakes are easy to confuse with the poisonous coral snake.
Many species tend to hibernate in nature. During this time, the animals usually do not consume any food. The duration of hibernation is usually 1 to 2 months. The temperature during this time should be around 10 to 15 degrees.
Already knew? King snakes defend themselves just like rattlesnakes. They snaked on an object with their schwant to create a sound. In addition, king snakes are even immune to the poison of other venomous snakes. King snakes have been observed eating other venomous snakes without being harmed.
Husbandry and nutrition
As you already know, king snakes are strangler snakes. They can reach a length of up to 2 meters and live up to 30 years.
It is important that you pay attention to a species-appropriate size for the terrarium . The size of the terrarium for keeping one or two king snakes should be approximately 100 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm (length x width x height). A larger terrarium is of course also fine, but it should definitely not be for none.
Attention: If you have decided on a king snake as a pet, you should rather keep it individually! King snakes can be cannibalized among their peers.
Since most king snakes are not as willing to climb as corn snakes, a large floor area should be made available to offer the animal enough space. However, climbing opportunities should be available. We would recommend using a mixture of pine bark and terrarium humus as the substrate. This is best.
Alternatively, you can also use softwood litter. This offers a special low-dust floor area. This can also quickly bind excrement and liquid and is very hygienic.
Regardless of which substrate you choose, you should make sure that mold cannot form. Mold and fungus can affect your pet’s health very quickly. As a rule, you should change the substrate after 2 months at the latest to avoid this.
Especially with reptiles, it is very important that you make sure to keep the habitat as natural as possible. An important point here is the temperature. This should ideally be such that the king snake can retreat to both warm and cool corners.
Kingsnakes like to look for warmer places, especially when it comes to digestion. The general temperature in the terrarium should be around 24 to 28 degrees. At night, the temperature should not drop below 19 degrees.
In addition, you could consider equipping the terrarium with a daylight lamp or a UV lamp. However, this is not absolutely necessary, as king snakes are nocturnal or twilight-active snakes.
The humidity in the terrarium should always be between 40 to 70%. Usually this can be achieved through a bowl of water.
Caution: If the humidity is too high, mold or fungus growth can occur more quickly.
It is advisable to keep an eye on the temperature and humidity. A thermometer or hygrometer is ideal for this.
Most species of king snake feed on small vertebrates. Frost mice are also very suitable. You should thaw these beforehand in lukewarm water so that they reach a body temperature of around 35 to 40 degrees. In addition, you can make the mice richer in vitamins with preparations.
King snakes also like to feed on small mammals, birds, small amphibians and lizards. As you already know, king snakes do not shy away from eating other conspecifics. They make no difference whether the prey is poisonous or not. They strangle their prey with full physical strength.
Caution: newly hatched snakes can tend to have problems with feeding. Therefore, you should pay attention to food-proof young animals when buying. Weekly feeding is advisable for young animals, and every 2 to 3 weeks for older animals.
King snakes have a comparatively high life expectancy. So it is not surprising when a king snake can live to be up to 30 years old. Of course, life expectancy depends on some circumstances. A natural environment and a species-appropriate diet promote life expectancy.
Buy king snake reptile species
Have you decided to get a king snake? Great. Then you should now deal with the question of where you want to buy this snake. You can do this, for example, at a pet shop near you, at an online provider or directly at the breeder.
Regardless of where you want to buy your king snake, you should pay attention to a few things:
- Do you feel well advised by the seller / breeder?
- Was it possible to clarify all of your questions?
- Does the terrarium look hygienic?
- Do the animals look healthy?
Would you like to get a king snake? After reading this article, you now know what is important when it comes to feeding and keeping these snakes. King snakes are not particularly maintenance-intensive and are therefore also suitable for beginners.
However, you shouldn’t forget that it’s a strangler snake. So you should check twice to see if the terrarium is really closed.
Do children live in your household? Then we might advise against keeping a king snake.