| Pet Care Advice By Veterinarians |

Do King Snakes Make Great Pets? (Explained!)



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

Learn more about us.

Are you a reptile enthusiast looking for a new pet? If so, you may want to consider a King Snake. King Snakes are some of the most popular snakes in the pet trade and for good reason – they make great pets!

In this blog post, we will discuss the care and feeding of King Snakes as well as their temperament and personality. We hope that after reading this post, you will have a better understanding of whether or not a King Snake is the right pet for you!

Read on to learn more about keeping king snakes.

Key Takeaway

  • King snakes make great pets as they are known for their docility, ease of care, and non-venomous nature, and are suitable for beginners, although they require a proper feeding schedule to avoid obesity.
  • While some species of king snakes are primarily diurnal, most species are nocturnal, becoming increasingly active during the night.
  • While individual temperaments can vary, in general, king snakes do not mind being handled and can even learn to tolerate and enjoy interaction once they trust their handler.

Do King Snakes Make Great Pets?

Yes. King Snakes may possess an intimidating name, but these beautiful and colorful snakes are docile, with a great “personality”. King Snakes can be kept in a wide variety of habitats, from small cages to large terrariums, and they can be fed a range of different food items depending on what is available locally.

In the wild, king snakes prey on venomous snakes such as pit vipers. This is what makes them “King”.  

However, when you keep one as a pet, you can feed it on a varied diet of birds, rodents, frogs, or lizards. King Snake hatchlings eat once a week, while the adults can eat every 2 weeks. This feeding schedule makes king snakes cheap to keep.

Kings are most comfortable in wooden vivariums where the wood naturally provides insulation. However, if you prefer to have a view of your pet king snake throughout, you can go with a glass tank.

Personally, I house my king snake in a wooden vivarium because although I want to see it as much as possible, the vet advised me to go with a habitat made out of wood.

You don’t need to overequip their enclosure as they prefer to be on the ground as opposed to climbing on branches. A basking rock and a log are pretty much all that’s needed in a king snake’s vivarium or tank. Other than that, give them a bowl of water daily, clean out any uneaten prey or waste from their enclosure.

Are King Snakes Venomous?

No. King Snakes don’t have enough venom to cause any real harm to humans. King Snakes kill their prey by constriction. They are also immune to venom from poisonous snakes such as coral snakes and rattlesnakes.

In captivity, adult king snakes behave docile and are hardly ever aggressive towards people. However, if your pet king snake bites you, wash out the wound with warm soapy water. Keep an eye on the bite wound and seek medical help if the wound appears to be infected.

Handling an adult king snake is relatively easier than handling a young one. This is because younger King Snakes are active, move a lot faster, and prefer to explore instead of stay in your hands.

As a general rule, however, King Snakes (and any other pet snakes or reptiles), can become aggressive if you handle them during their shedding phase.

Outside of the shedding phase, look for signs of stress such as tail shaking and breathing with an open mouth. These signs usually mean that your king snake prefers to be left alone. If you insist on handling them, they might react aggressively towards you.

Are King Snakes Nocturnal?

No, King Snakes are not nocturnal. King snakes’ sleeping and activity patterns vary depending on seasonal changes. When temperatures are high, the California King Snake tends to be crepuscular. This means it will be active at twilight when daytime temperatures start to subside. Some nocturnal activity is also common during this time.

King Snakes are often mistakenly thought to be nocturnal creatures, but they are actually diurnal. This means that they are active during the day and sleep at night. They spend most of their time hiding in logs, under rocks, or in other sheltered areas until it’s time to eat.

When they’re not eating or resting, king snakes will actively hunt for prey. Although they can tolerate a wide range of habitats, king snakes prefer dry climates with plenty of open space. In the wild, they live in deserts, prairies, and scrublands.

During winter, King Snakes go underground and slow down their metabolism. This dormant state is called brumation and is characterized by inactivity and lots of sleep says Reptile Knowledge.  

King Snakes also make good pets because they are easy to care for and don’t require a lot of attention. If you’re looking for an interesting and low-maintenance pet snake, King Snakes might be the right pet for you.

Do King Snakes Mind Being Handled?

Do King Snakes Make Great Pets

No. King Snakes don’t mind being handled. They are very easy-going snakes, and mostly seem to like being out of their enclosure and interacting with their owners. However, make sure that your hands are clean before handing your King Snake. This is because King Snakes are sensitive to smells and will not hesitate to strike if they think you are prey. Also, make sure not to startle your snake by moving too quickly or making loud noises.

However, there are some ground rules that you should follow when handling your king snake to ensure the experience goes smoothly for both of you.

  • Support its body as it moves about you. Allow it to move freely and slither through your hands as you hold it.
  • Do not restrain your king snake, grab it by the head, or by the tail. Avoid rough handling of any sought.
  • If you have just handled rodents or snakes, wash your hands before handling your pet snake. Snakes identify you by smell. Therefore, if you smell like a rodent or a snake, your king snake will react aggressively towards you.
  • Do not handle your king snake when it’s going into a shedding phase. This is because its skin is so sensitive during this period, and its therefore likely to react badly. In addition, during shedding, the snake’s eyes will be cloudy, making it blind. This is likely to send it into a panic as the “blindness” makes it “feel” vulnerable, hence hyper-alert.
  • Keep handling of juvenile and baby king snakes to a minimum because they easily get stressed and nervous at a young age.
  • In case a king snake bites you, give it time to let go on its own. Yanking it will only make the bite worse and also injure the snake.

Always clean your hands after handling your king snake.

Do King Snakes Give Birth?

King Snakes give birth to live young, and they are oviparous. This means that the eggs are hatched outside of the mother’s body. King Snake mothers will lay their eggs in a protected area where they will be safe from predators.

Once the eggs have been laid, the king snake mother will leave her offspring to hatch on their own. The baby king snakes are born with fully-formed scales and teeth, which allows them to start hunting for food immediately after hatching. Baby king snakes are also able to fend for themselves and do not require any parental care. In fact, many times baby king snakes will eat their siblings right after hatching!

King Snakes become sexually mature between the ages of 2 and 4. When ready to mate, the male seeks out the female by scent. If you are breeding king snakes, it’s advisable not to have multiple males in the same enclosure as they will fight their way to the female.

Female King Snakes lay between 3 eggs and 24 eggs. After a short incubation period in the mother, she leaves the eggs in safe, secluded spots such as inside a log. After 3 months, the eggs hatch on their own and the hatchlings begin fending for themselves from that moment.

Note however that some snakes don’t need males to produce eggs. Some snakes have been known to fertilize their own eggs. It is also common for some snakes to incubate eggs in them until they hatch.

Before you get any king snakes for breeding, talk to an experienced vet or certified breeder about this.

Do King Snakes Get Sick?

Yes. King Snakes are susceptible to the same illnesses as other snakes, such as respiratory infections, mouth rot, and parasites. Stressed snakes are more likely to get ill than healthy, well-adapted snakes. Young and old snakes are also more prone to adenovirus. Snakes infected with the adenovirus will experience stomach, liver, and intestinal problems.

Adenovirus results in dwindling health. Snakes often lose their appetite, fail to grow healthily, and lose weight. A high death rate is also common among snakes with adenovirus.

The adenovirus is transmitted from one snake to another through feces. Snakes raised in groups are especially notorious for spreading this virus due to higher contact with each others’ feces. Some infected snakes will not show any symptoms even when infected.

If you buy such a snake, it is likely to spread the virus to any other pet snakes you have.

Besides the adenovirus, feeding your King Snake too close to its brumation period is another factor that commonly causes infection among king snakes. This is because any food that’s in the digestive tract during brumation will rot and cause infection.

In the wild, snakes can naturally regulate their feeding to prepare for brumation. But this can be difficult for them to do when living in a tank. Therefore, you have to help your snake prepare for brumation to prevent infection.

To prepare for brumation:

  • Do not feed your snake for at least 2 weeks
  • During this time, keep the temperature up in their tank
  • Once the snake empties its digestive tract, lower the temperature in the tank to cool it down. Your snake can only brumate in cold weather, therefore this step is important.

Do King Snakes Get Along With Other Pets?

King Snakes are not typically aggressive towards large pets, however, they are quite aggressive towards other snakes. They will defend themselves if provoked and will attack other snakes because they are very territorial. Housing other reptiles with your king snake, for instance, is a bad idea.

If you have large pets like a cat or a dog, it is important to introduce them gradually. King Snakes will not bother to attack pets such as dogs due to their larger size. Do not however take this chance as king snakes are constrictors and they can wrap themselves easily around the neck of smaller dogs or cats.

On the other hand, dogs and cats may be a danger to a king snake. Cats might see the King Snake as a threat and attack it immediately. I mean, this is what would happen out in the wild when their instincts kick in.

So as a general rule, because the king snake is quite small, avoid leaving it around your dog or cat because they can injure it.


Q: Are king snakes good pets?

A: Yes, king snakes can make great pets for the right owner. They are generally docile and easy to care for.

Q: What kind of pet is a king snake?

A: King snakes are a type of snake that can be kept as pets. They are known for their beautiful colors and patterns.

Q: How big do king snakes get?

A: The size of a king snake can vary depending on the species. On average, they can grow to be 3-5 feet long.

Q: What do king snakes eat?

A: King snakes are carnivorous and their diet mainly consists of rodents, such as mice and rats. Some larger species may even eat other snakes.

Q: How often do king snakes need to be fed?

A: Juvenile king snakes should be fed every 5-7 days, while adult king snakes can be fed every 1-2 weeks.

Q: Do king snakes require any special housing?

A: King snakes require a tank or enclosure with appropriate bedding, hiding places, and a temperature gradient. It is important to provide a suitable environment for their well-being.

Q: What is the lifespan of a king snake?

A: King snakes can live for 15-20 years with proper care and nutrition.

Q: Do king snakes need any special lighting?

A: King snakes do not require UV lighting, but they do need a light and dark cycle to mimic their natural day and night patterns.

Q: Are king snakes good for beginners?

A: Yes, king snakes are often recommended as good pet snakes for beginners. They are generally hardy, adaptable, and easy to handle.

Q: Do king snakes need to be handled often?

A: While king snakes can be handled, they do not require frequent handling. Too much handling can cause stress to the snake, so it’s important to handle them with care and in moderation.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, king snakes make excellent pets, particularly for beginners in the world of reptile keeping.

They are renowned for their docility and non-venomous nature, making them safe to handle with proper care.

Furthermore, they are relatively low-maintenance, requiring only a suitable habitat and a regular feeding schedule.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

Learn more about us.

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Latest posts

DMCA.com Protection Status