Are California King Snakes Good Pets? Read This To Decide!

Many snake breeders suggest them, but are California King Snakes good pets? Here’s an honest answer!

Cali Kings is one of the most popular pet snakes for beginners. Many breeders and pet store sales assistants recommend them, but knowing if they are the right snake for you requires an in-depth analysis.

In this article, I share my opinion about California King Snakes and give you info to decide if they’re the right snake for you.

Are California King Snakes Good Pets?

I agree with many other snake experts that California King Snakes make excellent pets! However, I don’t think they’re the best fit for every snake owner.

They have many great features and require little to thrive, but new snake owners often mistake this as a reason not to invest much time into their pets.

If you want to keep a Cali King as a pet, you need to know that they still need tons of attention to stay loving snakes.

Below, I list why they make great pets and why they don’t.

The Advantages of Keeping a California King Snake

Tank Setup

Cali Kings don’t need a complicated tank setup. If you give them a big basking spot, one or two hiding spaces, keep their enclosure at a steady temperature of about 80 degrees, and provide them with approximately 40-gallons of room to move around in, you’ll have a happy snake.


Even when they are fully grown, California King Snakes are a manageable size. The maximum size for a Cali King is about 6 feet, although those kept in captivity typically don’t grow longer than 4 feet.

Compared to other pet snakes like Pythons or Boas, the California King Snake maintains a comfortable size throughout its life.

Read more about California Kingsnake Tank Size: Having The Right Enclosure Matters


Cali Kings are known for their calm, docile temperament. This is one of the main reasons they’re recommended to first-time snake owners.

If you handle your snake at least 3 times a week, they’ll quickly get used to being held and soon enough start to slither on you!

Morph Variations

If you’re lucky, the breeder or shop you’re buying from will have Cali Kings in different morph variations.

You might have the chance to choose between a:

Albino snake
Black snake with yellow bands
Black snake with vertical white stripes
Brown snake with yellow bands
Brown snake with yellow stripes
Chocolate snake
High Yellow Banana snake
High White snake
Lavender snake
Snake with speckles
Reverse Stripe


California King Snakes have a simple diet – thawed mice.

Your snake will thrive on this food, but you can add vitamin supplements to their diet if needed.

 How often do kingsnakes shed

The Disadvantages of Keeping a California King Snake

The Juvenile Stage

While Cali Kings are young, they have a jumpy temperament. It’s in their nature and might take a while to change, even with frequent handling.

Accidental Bites

While feeding your snake, they may accidentally bite you.

Cali Kings have an eager nature, and while they’re not used to being fed, they might aim at you. They’ll calm down with enough feeding sessions, but always be ready to pull away from a strike.


California King Snakes can live up to 30 years! If you decide to get one, you need to be ready for a lifelong commitment.

Many people purchase Cali Kings because they’re sold as easy beginners snake, but they never prepare to keep them for years. Unfortunately, this is how so many captive snakes end up in the wild and die.

How to Know If Your California King Snake is Doing Good

Every snake owner should have their pet’s health at the top of their priority list. Here are some signs that indicate whether your Cali King is thriving or not!

Signs That Your California King Snake is Healthy

  • They regularly shed (about every three months) in a single piece
  • You can’t spot any debris in their ears, eyes, mouth, or nose
  • They have a healthy appetite and await their meals with eager
  • They’re active and alert

Signs That Your California King Snake isn’t Healthy.

  • Their feces is irregular or watery
  • Their eyes seem sunken and appear cloudy
  • They’ve lost their appetite and seem dehydrated
  • They breathe through their mouth

If you notice that your snake isn’t well, you should consult a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about reptiles. The best way to ensure that you’ll always have someone on call is to contact one before you purchase your snake and build a relationship from the start.

Facts About California King Snakes

Here are five interesting facts about Cali Kings you should know before buying one!

  • Cali Kings use constriction to subdue their prey but might wrap themselves around you to show affection.
  • They can thrive in various habitats like deserts, grasslands, forests, and even suburban areas.
  • Their scales are shiny and smooth to the touch.
  • Cali Kings prefer to be in an enclosure on their own, and in the wild, they only get together with other snakes for hibernation.
  • California King Snakes have a tolerance to rattlesnake venom.

Before Slithering Away

It’s true that Cali Kings make excellent pets, but without frequent handling and affection, they won’t be fun to have. If you plan on buying a California King Snake, see if you can visit a local breeder for some hands-on experience with this snake. That, paired with the information in this article, will help you make an informed decision.

I hope this article sheds some light on what you’re in for when getting a California King Snake as a pet. They’re lovely snakes, but only if their owner treats them well.

If you have any more questions about this breed, let me know in the comments!

Do California King Snakes like to be held?

California King Snakes are generally easy to handle since they don't mind being held.

How often should you hold a California King Snake?

To keep your Cali King tame, you should handle them at least 2 or 3 times a week.

How often do King Snakes shed?

The more often your King Snake eats, the more often they'll shed. Typically, King Snakes shed once every 3 months, but they'll grow even faster if you feed them a lot.

Read more about California Kingsnake’s Temperature Needs: The Do’s And Don’ts