How much taller is a Californian king

Californian king snake grooming
Lampropeltis getula californiae

The California king snake is the most popular species of the king snake family. They can make excellent pets and are incredibly hardy species. They are not quite as popular as corn snakes or ball pythons for beginners, as they often want "musk" on when scared, and as young animals are much more likely to bite when intimidated. This can be overcome quickly through regular treatment and their bites won't hurt, but this can be off-putting for first timers. Similar to corn snakes, they reach a modest size around 4ft (1.2m).


When not keeping a snake as a pet, you generally want to be able to see the snake from outside its enclosure in the most natural environment you can provide. A naturalistic setting will be more aesthetic to help your eyes and also in the general condition of the snake. If the snake likes it's surroundings, it will have a better feeding response and usually grow faster. A larger terrarium also offers more interest in the snake's life, and by adding branches and other natural products you will improve the quality of life the snake has, and stop it from becoming sluggish and overweight.

For an adult Kingsnake Snake, a terrarium 90cm length x 45cm width x 45cm height is sufficient. Unlike very shy snakes like royal pythons, king snakes will often fare well in larger enclosures. I wouldn't recommend anything about an oversized terrarium like a hatchling, but as the snake reaches adulthood you could easily provide a larger enclosure for your kingsnake provided there are loads of hidden areas.

Snake enclosures can be made from a number of materials. Most commonly used is a melamine coated wood that covers all sides except the front, which is sliding glass doors. Aquariums can also be used for juvenile snakes, although a specialist lids should be purchased or made in place of the original aquarium lids. It is important when thinking about what type of enclosure you are using, you think about these 6 'SSSHHH' factors:

security - Can the snake or holder get injured from the case or any equipment held inside?
To back up - Can the snake escape through any small opening or cavity?
size - Will the case be a suitable size?
heater - Is the case able to regulate the temperature correctly?
humidity - Will the enclosure last also in damp conditions? Is there adequate ventilation?
Hygienic - Will the enclosure build a lot of bacteria in small cavities? Is it easy to clean?

By following the steps above, you can have a suitable enclosure made from a variety of materials.


Décor in your terrarium serves two purposes. First is additional coverage for your snake and second, so for a natural and appealing look for yourself. When choosing decor, think about the safety of the snake. Make sure that what you choose, it is securely attached and that no stones, wood, or anything heavy can fall and potentially injure or even kill the snake. You also need to make sure that anything used is parasite free. If anything was picked up from the outside, or was originally came from the outside, like cork, you should clean it up with a strong detergent.

If you decide to go for an extra large enclosure, you will need enough cover and hiding areas. A hiding place can be anything from a large tupperware box with a hole cut out to a naturalistic piece of cork. There are many brands of fake plants and decorations you can use which is both safe for the animal and easy on the eyes. Cork is available from almost every reptile pet store in the UK, and can be ordered in if they don't have it in stock. This is an excellent cover for reptiles and is 100% natural. One thing that you need to keep in mind when thinking about the size of the terrarium is the larger you go, the more hiding areas you will have. I recommend at least one hiding place per 18 inches in length of the case for an adult kingsnake.

NOTE: Never put tape in an enclosure; an accident happened. Believe me; Removing tape from each snake is no easy task!


Like all reptiles, king snakes require a thermal gradient, which means they must be allowed to move around the enclosure to find their desired temperature. The hot end of the case should be 86-90 º F while the cool end should be around 76-80 º F. During the night, the overall temperature should be a more constant temperature of 74-78 º F & drop.

In my opinion, the ideal way of heating a Kingsnakes housing is to use a ceramic heating element. The WhitePython ™ Ultra Slim ceramic heater are the ideal choice as it gives off enough heat, but also doesn't take up too much space in the terrarium. Ceramic emitters don't give off light and so in a terrarium you need some form of lighting as well. In order to regulate the temperature precisely you should use a suitable thermostat.

Power plates, spot light bulbs and heating mats are also options for heating a terrarium. These all have their advantages and disadvantages, but in my opinion, none outweigh to be as good as ceramic heating elements for large boxes.


King snakes are mainly nocturnal, meaning they venture out in the dark of night. This is when their main enemies are asleep and their prey is awake. This is not to say, though, that they never see the sun, and any kind of lighting for that matter. They will often bask in the sun during the day in the wild, so lighting should be provided.

Using artificial light in a terrarium is aesthetically pleasing to the owner, and is a good addition to a snake enclosure. You will not use this as photo time, and your regular game time clock will usually be based on the settings on which you set your light to set.

You don't need a special form of lighting like a D3 ultraviolet light commonly used for everyday type. The WhitePython ™ series of LED lights are a great way to light your facility while using low power. They are also very slim and therefore do not hinder your opinion in the terrarium. What's more, they're available in just about any length you want. If you'd like to go a step further and watch your snake activity during the night, you could do that Moonlight Blue or Nighttime Red Versions of the LED lights.


Californian kingsnakes are typically not exposed to high levels of humidity in the wild, and in captivity you shouldn't have to worry about controlling this. A fairly dry environment should be provided, although increasing the humidity when the snake comes up to a scab can help in shedding it's skin properly.


Hatchlings should be offered pinky mice, and as they grow the mice should become larger. An adult kingsnake should be fed on large mice or small weaner rats. Hatchlings should be fed regularly, every 4-5 days is ideal. Their metabolic rate is very high and as they grow, they need a lot more nutrition to get rid of them. Adults need kingsnakes feeding once every 2 weeks to 2 large mice. The only exception when they are fed more brings them out of hibernation, getting them into the appropriate state for breeding and then, fattening females for egg production. An egg-laying female should be fed more often than normal, once a week to 2 large mice.

By Chris Jones
Founder of WhitePython ™

Follow @ whitepython1

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