Choosing Your California King Snake Substrate

When it comes to choosing your California kingsnake substrate, careful thought needs to be given to the particles that you add to your king snake’s enclosure. Simply put, a substrate is stuff that makes up your snake’s floor. So why is choosing your California kingsnake substrate so important?

If you consider that this is where your snake eats, sleeps, and moves around all day long, a substrate must act as a bed, as a clean surface for their food, and a space where they can move along freely. There is a lot at stake when it comes to keeping your king snake happy on all of those fronts!

What Is The Best California King Snake Substrate?

By thinking of substrate as your California King Snake’s bedding, it becomes clear that you wouldn’t want your prized king snake to ingest little pieces of wood or sand when it is going for its prey. For this reason, coconut substrate is the best California king substrate as the pieces of husk are generally considered too big to ingest.

Coconut substrate retains humidity, which helps to create the perfect tropical climate for your king snake. California kingsnakes also like to burrow or dig, making coconut substrate a pleasure for your snake when it is looking to move around and hide.

Coconut substrate is also free from odor. Generally speaking, you are always wanting to avoid any substrate that comes with some kind of smell. You can find coconut substrate that is clean, organic, and ethically sourced online.

Aspen shavings are tree shavings that hold their shape while the snake buries itself, and orchid bark or the brand ReptiBark are other safe options. If you happen to run out, shredded newspaper is not a bad alternative.

Substrates to avoid include cedar shavings as the oils are not good for the snake’s health. Sand is also a definite no-no as it can get stuck under the scales or ingested while eating, which causes digestive problems later on.

How Much Substrate Does A King Snake Need?

You need enough substrate on the floor of your vivarium or snake enclosure for your king snake to be able to fully submerge itself. A generous 4 inches for a fully grown king snake living in a 20-gallon vivarium should suffice.

Online you can buy coconut substrate in a compressed brick form that weighs 4.5 kg and expands out to 72 quarts when opened. Just add water to moisten, and it is then ready to use. To keep your snake enclosure fresh, clean, and healthy, you will need to change your substrate at least once a month.

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Do California kingsnakes need humidity

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

California Kingsnakes Humidity Levels And Temperature

California King Snakes can easily handle a 50%-60% humidity level and need to be misted daily.

What they will need is a large, shallow clean bowl of water for soaking. If they are spending too long in the water, they are too hot. Other reasons might include that they are shedding, or that they have mites.

In terms of temperature for your tank, aim for a cool side (roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit) and a warm side (85 degrees Fahrenheit) for your Cali snake to move between. A heat lamp is probably overkilled and can end up drying up the needed humidity in the tank. A heated mat on one side of the tank is a better idea. Heated rocks or stones (depending on the brand) are often gimmicky and over-heat, causing irritation to the skin of your snake.

How Do You Set Up A California Kingsnake Enclosure?

Bigger is always better when it comes to your setup of a California kingsnake enclosure.

You’re Looking to include the following in your shopping list before you take home your pet Cali kingsnake:

  • 10-gallon aquarium. This size is fine for babies and juveniles.
  • 20-gallon aquarium. This size is suitable for when your snake is a year old.
  • 40-gallon aquarium. Adults like to be housed in something big, with options to move around in.
  • 2 hides. One for the cool side of the tank, and one for the warmer side, so your snake can move between them.
  • Coconut husk substrate. We have mentioned alternatives above, but the right substrate is important for retaining humidity as well as creating a pleasing aesthetic. The substrate is important for healthy burrowing too.
  • UV lighting. A timer for 12 hours of consistent daytime lighting is best. Your snake is diurnal, meaning that it will sleep in one place at night.
  • Heat pad. Keep this under one of the hides that you create.
  • Two thermometers. One for each side of the enclosure. This is the most accurate way to gauge temperature variation, as opposed to just having one thermometer in the middle of the enclosure.
  • Large watering bowl. Not too deep, but big enough for them to submerge their body in.

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Cali King Snake Conclusion

California kingsnakes are awesome pets! They get their name because they are kings, and will eat anything in their site, including other snakes!

Choosing Your California King Snake Substrate requires understanding that they like to burrow and hide, and they also like to be clean while doing so. Regular care and maintenance of your Cali kingsnake enclosure are crucial. You’re looking for a substrate that is chunky and odorless and that your snake won’t swallow up by mistake when it is munching on a mouse that you have prepared for dinner.

The substrate for a California kingsnake is just like the California King Bed – nice and big and clean and comfortable, with plenty of room for snoozing and hiding from the world! Treat your Cali kingsnake with the right coco husk substrate – you won’t regret it!


How much substrate does a king snake need?

You need enough substrate on the floor of your vivarium or snake enclosure for your king snake to be able to fully submerge itself. A generous 4 inches for a fully grown king snake living in a 20 gallon vivarium should suffice.

Do California kingsnakes need humidity?

The great news about California king snakes as pets is that they are very adaptable when it comes to the humidity of their enclosure. An average level of 50% to 60% humidity is required. Achieve this by misting daily. Add some moss to the enclosure and mist that to increase moisture in the tank.

Do California kingsnakes like to burrow?

Yes, California kingsnakes like to burrow. This is because they are private animals that often like to eat or sleep out of the watchful eye of anyone else, including its owner. California kingsnakes are not arboreal in that they don’t strictly like to climb branches and are more accustomed to moving around on the ground. A variety of branches though, protruding from the substrate gives your snake the choice of exercising in different, more creative ways.

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