This is a subset of the kingsnake species that is – you guessed it – unique to Florida. They live almost exclusively in southern Florida. The most common place is the peninsula, scattered throughout but most concentrated in the peninsula’s northern half.
Florida kingsnakes are an extremely popular choice for those who prefer snakes as pets. It’s also an excellent choice if you’re looking for a first snake because of its gentler temperament and low maintenance.
However, even though its care requirements are fewer, they are no less vital to the Florida king snake’s health and comfort.
Table of Contents
- Quick Facts
- How to Spot a Florida King Snake
- Are There Special Requirements to Be a Florida Kingsnake Owner?
- Personal Safety Tip
- The Florida King Snake: A Gentle and Beautiful Pet
|Common name||Florida king snake, chain snake, chain king|
|Scientific name||Lampropeltis getula floridana|
|Diet||Mice, small reptiles, eggs, amphibians, birds, small mammals|
|Tank size||60 gallons|
|Humidity & temperature||78-85 degrees F, 70-80% humidity|
|Popular alternatives||Corn snake, milk snake|
How to Spot a Florida King Snake
As with other kingsnakes, the head will be the same width as the rest of its body. However, this breed distinguishes itself from other types of kingsnakes in its coloring.
The Florida King Snake varies in color from yellow to dark brown. If it’s a lighter color, it will likely be monochrome, and if it’s darker, it will be patterned, creating what often comes off as a leopard-print effect. They can also have hints of red-orange in their color palettes.
Their preferred habitat varies greatly, but they vastly prefer areas that are wet and hidden, such as marshes and drainage canals.
For this type of snake, March and April are the months of their mating season. After an incubation period of around 60 days, the eggs will hatch between May and June. The clutch varies greatly in size, ranging from as few as two or as many as thirty.
Should a Florida King Snake Be a Pet?
This is one of the most commonly kept breeds for a few reasons.
- They are one of the least aggressive snake breeds out there, only biting if they believe they are in danger.
- Non-venomous. If you get bitten, it won’t pose an immediate life-threatening risk.
- With proper care, a Florida king snake can live over twenty years.
- Easy care.Some snake breeds require an intensive care regimen and are easily injured. You won’t have to worry about that with a Florida King Snake.
Are There Special Requirements to Be a Florida Kingsnake Owner?
The requirements differ depending on the type of snake you’re interested in. The most common one is the Venomous Reptile Possession Permit. Because that is irrelevant to the Florida King Snake, you will likely not need such a license.
If you ever have any questions about whether or not you are qualified to own an animal, it is always best to check in with your local authorities.
The worst mistake you can make is to get a pet prematurely, especially one as unique as a snake. We’re going to go through the entire checklist of what you will need to create a perfect home for your new pet.
The Florida King Snake can grow up to 48 inches long (four feet), so the snake cage needs to accommodate these dimensions. The animal will need to be able to stretch out to its full length and have room to move around to be satisfied with its living arrangements.
This species is also one of the more active ones, so being confined in a tight space will cause it to become agitated. With its size and activity levels in mind, the ideal container would be at least 60 gallons.
When you keep animals that normally live in the wild, you must recreate that environment as closely as possible to ensure their comfort. Keep the Southern Florida climate and landscaping in mind as you decorate your new pet’s living space.
This means you’ll need lots of branches for them to climb. Never leave them without a fresh bowl of water to soak in, as this is vital for their leisure. Experts also recommend a mulch ground to create ideal conditions.
The lighting requirements are laxer for this species than many other snake breeds, but you must keep them under natural lighting. As with all reptiles, you should also purchase a UVB light to help them get proper nutrients. Just remember to turn it off at night.
The cage can never be completely closed off, or the snake will be unable to breathe. However, you must also make sure these vents are not so large that your pet can escape.
Temperature and Humidity
You should maintain the temperature at a maximum of 85 degrees Fahrenheit and a minimum of 78. Humidity needs to be kept between 70 and 80 percent.
Several times a day, the snake cage will need to be sprayed. There are specific mists you can buy, but room-temperature water will also do the trick.
Once a week, you will need to thoroughly clean the cage, paying special attention to rocks and branches because this is where waste typically gathers. Wipe down the cage’s interior with hot water and soap to get rid of buildup.
Before cleaning, you’ll need to remove your pet from its enclosure. This must be done with extreme care. Children should never be in the room when the snake is not contained for their sake and the snake’s well-being.
While the tank is being cleaned, the snake must be under vigilant supervision. This works best as a two-person job.
The best way to feed a snake is by purchasing frozen mice and thawing them out before you give them to your pet.
At the beginning of their lives, kingsnakes can only digest pinkie mice. As they become adults, they’ll be able to handle adult mice. You’ll need to take great care in ensuring that the animals you feed your pet snake are the same size as its width or smaller.
Most snakes need to be fed once every two weeks, give or take a few days. However, a younger snake will need it more often: once a week for hatchlings and every ten days when it becomes a juvenile.
First, do not eat before handling this pet. Smelling like food could cause it to bite. This is why washing your hands thoroughly before you start is recommended.
The good news is that this species is generally docile about being picked up. However, you must be gentle and start out slow until you build their trust. Touch them as little as possible at first and take special care to keep your hands away from their head, which can be interpreted as a threat.
Personal Safety Tip
The first impulse for this snake species is to run when they are afraid. However, if you notice their tail moving back and forth rapidly and vibrating, this indicates that they are about to bite.
If you are bitten, your immediate priority must be going to the doctor. Even though this kingsnake is not venomous, you should still seek medical attention whenever you are bitten by an animal because there is a risk of infection.
Can You Keep Two Florida Kingsnakes in One Enclosure?
You should never keep kingsnakes in the same area as another snake because they can and historically have been known to eat other snakes. They are solitary and territorial creatures!
How to Tell If Your Snake is Sick
To effectively take care of a pet, you must know the signs of when it needs medical care. Here are the most common and unmistakable signs that a Florida kingsnake is in poor health:
- Hiding or burying
- Absent or decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Dry saliva
- A more visible spine
- Pink or red underbelly
- Lying limp upon handling
If any of these symptoms appear in your pet, it’s time to act fast. Few veterinarians have the skill set or licensing required to care for a snake, so it’s crucial to research snake-savvy animal hospitals in your area before you take your pet home.
How Much Does a Florida King Snake Cost?
Depending on who you purchase from, you could be spending anywhere from $100 to $150. However, do not just go to any breeder. This is both for ethical reasons and for your protection.
Irresponsible breeders only focus on profit and will take shortcuts at the cost of the animals’ health. This can result in you getting a severely ill pet, leading to emotional distress and heavy financial losses.
You’ll know a responsible breeder because they will gladly answer any questions. They’ll be knowledgeable about the species and more than willing to show you where the animals are kept. If a breeder you are talking to becomes secretive or defensive at any point, cut off contact with them immediately.
The Florida King Snake: A Gentle and Beautiful Pet
Thanks to their dramatic patterns, docile temperament, and relatively easy care, Florida kingsnakes are among the most popular snakes kept as pets. It’s still important to do ample research, create an ideal tank environment, and ensure you’re working with a reputable breeder before bringing your new snake friend home.