Common Name: Banded King Snake

Genus: Lampropeltis

Origin: S.W. U.S.A & Baja Calif.

Lifespan: They usually live from 15 to 20 years in captivity but have been known to live longer.

Average Size: 2.5 – 3.5 feet in length


The California Kingsnake originates in the desert and can live in many other places such as: woodland, farm land, forests and riversides.

They are very common pets. They usually grow between four to six feet which at this point they are considered fully grown. They usually live from 15 to 20 years in captivity but have been known to live longer. The California Kingsnake is most commonly black and white banded, however yellow bands are recorded in some subspecies, with a checkered stomach and black eyes.

Kingsnakes usually shed 4 to 6 times a year at which point they go “opaque”. Opaque here means their skin will dull and their eyes will turn a milky color. They usually shed in one long piece including shedding their eye scales. Adolescent snakes will shed more than adult snakes as they grow faster.

When a kingsnake is preparing to shed it needs a humid environment to help shed the old skin. While this process is occurring the snake should be handled as little as possible as the new skin is not yet mature and will be hurt. These snakes are found in North America along the east coast up to Ohio and down into Florida. It gets the name ‘king’ as it eats other snakes in the wild, it also eats a diet of rats, mice, lizards and frogs.

King snakes often eat venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes. The venom has no effect on the snake as it can tolerate the toxins in venom, however if the snake is bitten many times by venomous snakes the venom will have harmful effects.

Housing Requirements

King snakes do best when housed in all glass reptile terrariums, or other enclosures designed specifically for housing snakes.

Hatchling snakes, and those up to around 2 feet, can be comfortably kept in a standard 10 to 20 gallon tank. Adults should be given more space, with a 20 to 30 gallon tank being appropriate for most adults,Cal kings, being the highly adaptable species that they are, will thrive on nearly any commercially available reptile bedding. Chipped aspen (Sani-Chips) is an ideal choice due to it’s sterile and dust-free nature. When choosing a bedding for your king snake, avoid anything dusty or drying such as cat litter or sand. Provide your snake with a few hiding places within its enclosure. These may include half-logs, curved cork bark, or pieces or grapewood. Climbing structures such as sticks and additional furnishings can be added as needed. These will add to the beauty of your terrarium and also serve as enrichment for your pet.

Light/Heating Requirements

With Cal kings, no special lighting should be necessary. A basic florescent bulb can be used if you wish to enhance viewing of your snakes. As for heating, standard heat bulbs, ceramic heat emitters, and under tank heat pads should suffice. Ambient cage temperatures for king snakes should be in the upper 70’s with access to a basking area that reaches 85 to 88 degrees. Nighttime temperatures can safely drop to the mid 70’s, with the basking area remaining slightly warmer

Food Requirements

King snakes will feed readily on various sized mice for their whole lives. Babies will eat a pinky (newborn) mouse once a week, while adults will eat one large adult mouse on a similar schedule. Very large snakes should be given small rats as opposed to multiple mice for health reasons.

Water/Humidity Requirements

Always provide your king snakes with a clean, shallow source of water. The receptacle should be large enough to permit soaking, but huge bowls are not necessary. The water should be checked daily, and replaced if low or fouled. California king snakes do not require much humidity, and typically fare just fine without any special considerations on the part of the keeper.