Useful Tips

King Snake (Lampropeltis)


Body length: 90 - 150 cm.

Life span: 20 - 25 years old.

Californian king snake is common in the western United States and in Mexico. She was also brought to the island of Gran Canaria near Africa. She settles in deserts, and in forests, and in swamps, but prefers to live next to people.

Reptile is equally active both day and night - it all depends on the weather. Like many other snakes, in the spring and autumn, the Californian royal snake is active during the day, and in the summer heat it remains awake at night.

The color is usually two colors - light and dark. Light can be white, grayish-white, cream or light yellow. Dark brown or black. These two colors either form transverse rings (this form is called banded), or, on a mostly dark background, a dark strip (striped) runs along the back. Such snakes are most often found on the coast of southern California. Also, various aberrant forms and a completely yellow variant called banana are common. These are natural, natural colorings. In addition to them, there are also captive-bred morphs.

If the royal snake is alarmed, then it begins to wriggle, hiss and rattle its tail so that it is easy to confuse it with rattlesnake. These snakes are non-toxic, but in perfection they master the technique of strangulation. In addition, like all the royal snakes, Lampropeltis getulus californiae is immune to poisonous brethren, which does not prevent it from hunting them. For a person, the Californian royal snake is not dangerous, but if mistreated, it can bite or release fluid.

How to equip a terrarium

Speaking about the content of these snakes, first of all I would like to note that individual terrariums are mandatory for them. They can’t be left with other reptiles even for a minute, since the California royal snake has a healthy appetite and looks at any neighbor with extremely gastronomic interest. The exception, of course, is the mating time, but caution is also needed here.

The terrarium must have a spacious drinking bowl and a warming point, at least up to 30 C. Never hold snakes without a warming point! This is their physiological need. Also, it is very desirable to have a humidity chamber in the terrarium (a box filled with moist moss, coconut or another substrate where the snake can hide during molting). In the presence of a humidity chamber, additional spraying is not required.

California Snake Food

In the wild, the diet of Lampropeltis getulus californiae depends on the habitat. This is an “opportunist” reptile and eats almost anything that can be swallowed. Thus, rodents, small mammals, lizards and their eggs, snakes (including rattlesnakes) and their eggs, frogs, salamanders, birds, as well as large invertebrates, as well as eggs of birds and turtles, become prey for California royal snakes.

In captivity, you can feed these snakes with mice and rats of the appropriate size. It is better to give prey euthanized or thawed to avoid trauma to the reptile. For a change of diet, quail eggs can be offered to the snake. Bones of prey and egg shells are a good source of calcium, but it can also be added as part of special vitamin-mineral complexes for reptiles.
Adults need to be fed once a week, or as the snake has completely defecated. Young ones can be fed twice a week, so the kite will grow faster. At the same time, it is important to prevent obesity in adults and to sit on a diet if the snake is getting fat.

Reproduction and breeding of the royal snake

Before breeding royal snakes in captivity, they must be wintered. For this, the snake needs to be prepared. For about a week, you can’t feed her, then turn off the heating and gradually lower the temperature. For king snakes, the minimum hibernation temperature is about 12 - 15 ° C. For about a month, the snake should be kept at this temperature, and then, in the reverse order, the temperature rises gradually over the course of a week. After turning on the heating, after a week, the snake can be fed.

You can winter snakes in special wintering boxes or in herpetological bags. There is a high risk that the snake will catch a cold, so it is advisable not to allow an increase in humidity during wintering. No need to put a big drinker, its size should only allow the snake to get drunk, and not swim. All spilled water must be cleaned immediately. It is better that the drinker is as stable as possible.

After wintering, the female and male are planted in one terrarium. Pregnancy of a female lasts on average about 45 days. The female lays from 2 to 12 eggs. Incubation lasts 45-60 days at a temperature of 27-29 ° C.

About a week after hatching, newborns molt and can be fed. Before, they should not be fed - they still have a supply of yolk in the stomach. You can not put the baby right away in a large terrarium. There it will be difficult for him to find food and hide, it will be stress for him. Therefore, it is better to make a small terrarium or keep it in a temporary plastic jig. Otherwise, the content of young animals is similar to the content of adult snakes.

Appearance and description of royal snakes

The royal snake got its second name “sparkling shield” due to the presence of very specific dorsal scales. Royal, the snake was nicknamed for the fact that in the wild, other species of snakes, including poisonous ones, became her favorite delicacy. This feature is caused by the lack of susceptibility of the king snake's organism to the relatives' poisons.

It is interesting! Documented cases in which representatives of the royal snake genus ate the most dangerous rattlesnakes.

Currently, only seven subspecies belonging to the genus of royal snakes have been able to study quite well. All species have significant differences not only in coloring, but also in size. The length of the body can vary from 0.8 m to one and a half to two meters. As a rule, the snake scales of this genus are smooth, have a bright and contrasting color, and the main pattern is represented by numerous multi-colored rings. The most common combination is red, black and white.

Royal Snake Lifestyle

The royal snake prefers to settle in coniferous forests, in areas with shrub woodlands and meadows, in semi-deserts. They are found on sea coasts and in highlands.

The reptile leads a terrestrial way of life, but it does not tolerate heat very well, therefore, when dry and sultry weather sets in, it goes hunting exclusively at night.

Types of King Snakes

Particularly widespread are several species belonging to the genus of non-poisonous royal snakes:

  • a royal mountain snake up to one and a half meters long, with a triangular black, steel or gray head and a strong, rather massive body, the figure of which is represented by a combination of gray and orange shades,
  • a beautiful royal snake up to a meter long, with a laterally compressed and slightly elongated head, large eyes and a slender, massive body of fawn or brown coloring with brownish-red rectangular spots,
  • Mexican royal snake up to two meters long, with a slightly elongated, laterally compressed head and a slender, strong body, the main coloring of which is gray or brown with quadrangular or saddle spots of red or black and white color,
  • Arizona royal snake up to a meter long, with a short, somewhat rounded black head and a thin, slender body, on which a three-color pattern is clearly visible, represented by red, black and yellow or white stripes.

Also quite good, to date, the ordinary, Sinaloyan, black, Honduran, California and striated royal snakes have been studied.

The device of the terrarium for the snake

The horizontal type of terrarium, the minimum dimensions of which are 800x550x550 mm, will become optimal for keeping a royal snake. For small individuals, a terrarium with dimensions of 600x300x300 mm can be distinguished.

The bottom part must be covered with a special artificial rug or covered with high-quality coconut flakes. A less suitable option would be to use paper.

It is interesting! As decor items, you can use small caves, large pieces of bark or not too large driftwood.

In the corner of the terrarium should establish a small pool for swimming snakes. A hydrometer and a thermometer are fixed to the terrarium wall, allowing strict control of the microclimate. The optimum temperature during the daytime is 25-32 o C. At night, the temperature must be lowered to 20-25 ° C. The standard humidity level should be in the range of 50-60%. If necessary, spraying is performed.

Important, when keeping reptiles, is the presence of proper lighting with fluorescent lights, which should not be too bright. To heat the terrarium, you can use several incandescent lamps, but it is best to use special heat mats that fit in one of the corners of the terrarium.

Important! To maintain the health of reptiles, you need UV lamps, which you need to turn on every day for half an hour.

Diet and main diet

A small or young snake should be fed once a week, avoiding starvation, which negatively affects the growth and development of the reptile. Food for small snakes are newborn mice and mouse-runners. An adult snake needs to be fed somewhat less frequently, about two to three times a month, using adult gerbils, dzhungariks and other rodents of suitable sizes for this purpose.

Important! Remember that after feeding the royal snake, at least three or four days you can not take a reptile in his arms.

A young snake can be aggressive and for the first time tries to bite its owner, which usually passes with age. Water must be available to the snake at all times.. It is recommended to periodically add special vitamin complexes for reptiles to clean water.

Precautionary measures

Royal snakes, as well as their European copepods, are owners of a weak poison, which helps the reptile to paralyze into nature the usual prey represented by lizards and snakes. This poison reduces the victim's resistance in the process of strangulation and ingestion.

The teeth of even the largest species are very small, and are unable to seriously injure human skin. When kept at home, adult royal snakes often become almost tame and do not show aggression towards their master at all. To tame such a snake in your hands you need gradually, taking about 10-15 minutes a day.

Snake breeding at home

In captivity, royal snakes breed well. At home, in winter, the temperature regime in the terrarium needs to be lowered, and in the spring the male and female should be planted. A week before wintering, the snake needs to be stopped feeding, after which the heating is turned off and the temperature gradually drops to 12-15 ° C. After a month, the temperature regime gradually rises and the usual reptile feeding conditions return.

An adult female lays from two to a dozen eggs, and the incubation period can vary from one and a half to two months at a temperature of 27-29 ° C. A week after birth, the snakes molt, after which they can begin to feed a couple of times a week. A small terrarium is reserved for young animals. In the future, royal snakes are kept alone, due to cannibalism.

Buy a king snake - recommendations

The newly acquired snakes must be kept in a quarantine terrarium, which will reveal any health problems of the reptile. It is best to keep such a snake in an isolated room to prevent airborne infection of other domestic reptiles.

You need to carefully examine the snake for the absence of external parasites. In the quarantine process, you need to monitor stool and reptile nutrition. In the absence of experience, it is advisable to show the snake to a qualified veterinarian after acquisition. Acquiring a reptile is best done in special zoological nurseries and stores or from well-established breeders.

Where to buy a snake and what to look for

The cost of a royal snake may vary depending on the place of acquisition, as well as the species and age. Average price in Moscow pet stores and nurseries:

  • Californian royal snake HI-YELLOW - 4700-4900 rubles,
  • Californian royal snake BANDED - 4800 rubles,
  • Royal Honduran snake HI-WHITE ABERRANT - 4800 rubles,
  • Californian royal snake Albino Banana - 4900 rubles,
  • Californian king snake Banded Cafe - 5000 rubles,
  • Royal Honduran snake HYPOMELANISTIC APRICOT - 5000 rubles,
  • Royal snake California Albino - 5500 rubles,
  • mountain huachuk royal snake - 5500 rubles.

Important! When purchasing, you need to pay attention that a healthy reptile has sufficient weight and does not suffer from anorexia.

It is necessary to examine the oral cavity, in which there should be no oral fungus caused by staphylococci. You should check the reptile for ticks that cause skin irritation, and find out when and how it last shed its skin. A completely healthy reptile must get rid of old skin necessarily at a time.

In recent years, many owners of royal snakes implant their pets with a special microchip, which allows you to track their location if necessary. This is a very simple operation, and the unique number contained on the chip allows you to effectively control the reptile.

California king snake

What does it look like. A slender and muscular body 0.6–1 m long. Red spots are located on a slightly elongated head with a blunt muzzle. The body is decorated with a pattern in the form of alternating rings - black and white. Most often, black rings are cut into two parts by a red strip, which sometimes closes on the stomach. Some subspecies have no red tint in color. The upper part of the head is black in color with a light transverse stripe or side spots.

Where dwells. Distributed from the north of the California Peninsula (Mexico) to the southern part of Oregon (USA), including all of California. A separate group is observed in the south of the US state of Washington. Prefers mountainous terrain.

What eats. Rodents, lizards, snakes, birds, eggs.

Did you know? According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world's largest reptile - an 18-year-old python named Fluffy - lives in a zoo in Ohio (USA). This record holder has a length of more than 7 meters, and its weight is as much as 136 kg!


What does it look like. The length reaches 1.3 meters. The color resembles poisonous coral aspids and is a combination of rich shades of red, black and white.

Where dwells. North America (from Colombia to Canada).

What eats. Small lizards, various amphibians and large insects.

Common royal snake

What does it look like. The average length is 1–1.4 m, the maximum reaches 2 m. A triangular head is located on a slender body. It is painted brown or black with light transverse stripes in the form of an elongated chain. The abdomen has a dark shade with a pattern of several light stripes.

Where dwells. Starting from the south of New Jersey to the north of Florida (USA). He prefers to settle in deciduous and coniferous plantations, in meadows, in marshy places.

What eats. Small lizards, snakes. Find out which snakes are among the largest and which are the most beautiful.

Mexican black

How do you lookt. The average length is 0.9–1 m, but can reach up to 2 m. A slightly elongated head is flattened on both sides. The muscular gray or brown body is decorated with uneven patches of red or black with red colors with a light border. The head is marked with a dark pattern resembling the letter “U”. Gray belly, sometimes there is a red color at the bottom of the tail.

Where dwells. Northwest Mexico and US State of Texas. Likes to settle in dry rocky places.

What eats. Small lizards, rodents and snakes.


What does it look like. The length is from 50 to 100 cm. A slender body with a compact and slightly rounded head. Almost black top of the head, light tip of the nose, red patches are found above the orbits. The body is covered with a pattern of red, black and light stripes. The back is black, on the stomach there is a pattern in the form of uneven sections of red, black and yellow.

Where dwells. Center and southeast of Arizona (USA), through northern Mexico to Chihuahua and Sonora. More often lives in the mountains, among coniferous plantations, loves stony soil.

What eats. Lizards and rodents. Important! The royal snake quickly gets used to its owner, becomes almost tame and does not show any aggression. In this case, the pet should be taught hands gradually, starting with 5-10 minutes of communication per day.

Campbell's Royal Milk Snake

What does it look like. Длина доходит до 0,9 м. Окрас выглядит как чередующиеся красные, чёрные и белые полосы. Голова тёмная, первая светлая полоса выходит на висок и иногда достаёт практически до кончика морды. Тёмные полосы намного тоньше красных и белых, у некоторых представителей вида красный цвет почти отсутствует.

Где обитает. Мексика.It settles in mountain valleys, forests, floodplains.

What eats. Small rodents, lizards, snakes. Check out the features of keeping a milk snake in a terrarium.

What does it look like. The average length is 0.8–0.9 m, the maximum length is 1.5 m. A strong muscular body is crowned by a pointed head. Its shade is black, steel or gray. The color of the snake is a dark gray background with wide, saddle orange areas.

Where dwells. The southern territories of the states of Texas and New Mexico (USA), the Mexican province of Chihuahua. Settles in the rocks and forests.

What eats. Lizards, mice, amphibians.

Beautiful royal snake

What does it look like. The length reaches 0.75–1 m. A strong body ends with a slightly elongated and flattened head on both sides. Background color - from fawn to brown. Pattern - red or brown rectangular spots across the body. The abdomen has a beige or yellowish tint with dark patches. There are instances of red and pink color without dark colors.

Where dwells. The center and southeast of the USA from Texas to Florida and North Carolina. It settles in the prairies, woodlands, in forest glades.

What eats. Rodents, frogs, birds, snakes.

Did you know? Despite its small head measuring only 1 centimeter, an African can swallow an egg 5-6 times more. This is helped by the special structure of the lower jaw of the snake, which can diverge to accommodate large prey. As soon as the egg is inside, special vertebrae open the shell, and the reptile burps its pieces out.

It lives in North America, in the USA - California, Nevada, Arizona, as well as in Mexico.

Terrestrial species, prefers to settle in forests, meadows, mountainsides, fields, as well as on the outskirts of towns and cities. Swims well, easily climbs trees and shrubs.

It is characterized by high ecological plasticity and inhabits a wide range of biotopes, from sand dunes on the sea coast, as well as forests, shrubs and prairies, to deserts and rocky beds of drying rivers. The mountains rises to 2164 m above sea level (in the Sierra Nevada). It is also found in anthropogenic landscapes: along the edges of fields, near roads, in farm yards, in wastelands and in landfills of construction waste.

In the north of the range and in the mountains are active from April to October, and in the south throughout the year. Like many other types of snakes, she described seasonal changes in daily activity - they lead a nocturnal lifestyle in hot weather, and in spring and autumn they are often found on the surface during the day. Winters in caves, deep burrows of various animals and other underground shelters, where the temperature does not drop below zero. Burrows themselves dig extremely rarely. Cases of joint wintering of a large number of individuals and wintering with snakes of other species are known.

California King Snake Behavior

Active snakes from late March to early November. In winter, they go deep into the crevices of rocks or hide in the burrows of mammals, in a state close to suspended animation, although some individuals crawl out to warm on warm stones if the winter is mild.

In spring and autumn, daytime activity, in the summer, the California Royal Snake preys at dusk or even at night to avoid exposure to high temperatures during the day.

This type of snake is a good climber, they are able to climb even into the hollow to a height of more than 1.5 meters from the surface of the earth. When faced with an enemy, the California royal snakes tend to crawl, if this is not possible, then the snakes violently twist their whole body to protect themselves and excrete feces, then inflicts rather deep lacerated wounds with their teeth. They search for prey using sight, hearing, and besides, they feel the vibration of the soil.

In the wild, the diet of Lampropeltis getulus californiae depends on its habitat, as it is more of an opportunistic reptile and eats almost anything that can be swallowed. Thus, rodents, small mammals, lizards and their eggs, snakes (including rattlesnakes) and their eggs, frogs, salamanders, birds, as well as large invertebrates, as well as eggs of birds and turtles, become the prey of California royal snakes.

In captivity, you can feed these snakes with mice and rats of the appropriate size. It is better to give prey euthanized or thawed to avoid trauma to the reptile. For a change of diet, quail eggs can be offered to the snake. Bones of prey and egg shells are a good source of calcium, but it can also be added as part of special vitamin-mineral complexes for reptiles.

Adults need to be fed once a week, or as the snake has completely defecated. Young growth can be fed twice a week, so the kite will grow faster. It is important to prevent obesity in adults and reduce the amount of food if necessary.

Value for man

The California royal snake is often kept as a pet, the main positive qualities of this type of snake are its attractive color and lack of poison. In addition, the California Royal Snake is bred in zoos and attracts visitors with its bright skin color. Breeding this species of captive snakes reduces the capture of individuals in the wild, which significantly increases the chances of survival of the species.

The California royal snake does no harm to people; in case of danger, it tries to escape and attacks only when absolutely necessary. Despite its striking warning coloration, the California Royal Snake simply mimics the poisonous appearance of snakes; its coloring resembles a drawing of a coral asp.

Conservation status

The California Royal Snake is listed on the California snake species as a species of particular concern, and some populations are protected. The IUCN Red List ranks the California Royal Snake as the least threatened species.

Destruction of the habitat associated with urbanization and mining is the most common threat to this species, in addition, this type of reptile is an object of sale. In some habitats of the California Royal Snake, there are no measures to prevent the illegal catch of snakes. These snakes breed in captivity and give offspring, perhaps therefore, they avoided a further decrease in numbers in nature.

House cleaning

Usually, after 2–3 days after feeding, the snake leaves feces, which must be removed immediately to prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria in them.

In addition, to ensure cleanliness in the terrarium 1-2 times a month, general cleaning should be done, during which the bedding or soil should be completely changed or cleaned, and equipment and decor items should be cleaned and disinfected. Step-by-step instructions for cleaning the terrarium:

  • Move the snake into a separate clean terrarium.
  • Wash all decor items, containers for food and water with hot soapy water, then rinse well with clean running water.
  • Remove the disposable backing from the terrarium. Reusable clean with hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly.
  • Wash the floor and walls of the home and also rinse well.
  • Dry the terrarium and all accessories well to prevent mold.
  • Assemble a terrarium, set decor items.

So, now you know that keeping a royal snake is not the hardest thing. Caring for it does not take much time, and the pleasure of observing this bright miracle of nature is the most enormous!