King and Milk Snakesincludes banana, desert, eastern and pueblan varieties
King and milk snakes are native to temperate and subtropical areas of North and Central America. These snakes come in a variety of colors and patterns.
Will reach adult size in 3 years, depending on species and under ideal conditions; upgrade habitat size as your snake grows.
A well-balanced king or milk snake diet consists of:
- Appropriately sized frozen rodents, thawed/warmed to above room temperature.
- Do not use a microwave to defrost frozen rodents and do not prepare them in the same area that you prepare food. If it is unavoidable, be sure to thoroughly disinfect the area. See the Feeding Frozen/Thawed Foods Care Sheet for more information.
- If feeding your snake live rodents, do not leave them unattended. Live rodents can injure the snake, sometimes fatally.
Things to remember when feeding your king or milk snake:
- Feed juveniles once a week, adults every one to two weeks.
- Feed in a separate tank so that your snake doesn’t associate your hand or the habitat beingvopened with feeding.
- Fresh, clean, chlorine-free water should be available at all times in a bowl large enough for your snake to soak in.
- Size - Appropriately sized and shape habitat for an adult king or milk snake to accommodate normal behavior and exercise.
- Substrate - Aspen shavings, mulch-type such as coconut fiber bedding or reptile bark; dampened sphagnum moss.
- Habitat - Provide a hiding area just large enough for your snake to fit inside and a branch or décor to climb on. Maintain 40 to 60% humidity; higher during shedding.
- Temperature - Temperature gradient (85°F for the warm end and 78° for the cool end); recommend radiant heat.
- Lighting - Provide 8 to 12 hours of light daily. Don’t leave white light on at all times; a nocturnal or infrared light should be used at night.
- House king and milk snakes alone and do not house different snake species together.
- As your snake gets ready to shed, their eyes will turn a milky blue/grey over the course of a few days and their body color will start to dull and develop a whitish sheen. May become irritable; avoid handling if possible.
- Appetite may vary.
- King snakes will eat other snakes.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect the habitat at least once aweek: place snake in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all traces of bleach smell; dry the tank and furnishings completely and add clean substrate.
Grooming & Hygiene
- Snakes will regularly shed their skin; ensure humidity of habitat is at appropriate level to allow snake to shed properly.
- Never try to remove eye caps by yourself. Seek veterinary care.
Signs of a Healthy Animal
- Active and alert
- Clear eyes (except when shedding)
- Eats regularly
- Healthy skin
- Regularly sheds skin in one complete piece
- Free of mites and ticks
- unusually frequent or infrequent shedding
- lethargic or reluctant to eat
- abnormal feces
- bumps or spots on skin
- labored breathing
- difficulty shedding
- white, cheesy substance in mouth
Common Health Issues
|Health Issue||Symptoms or Causes||Suggested Action|
|Health Issue Dermatitis||Symptoms or Causes Blisters, rapid shedding caused by an unclean habitat or one that is too cold or damp.||Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian, clean the habitat and lower humidity.|
|Health Issue Respiratory disease||Symptoms or Causes Labored breathing, mucus in mouth or nostrils. Can be caused by a habitat that is too cold or damp.||Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian and keep snake warm and dry.|
|Health Issue Stomatitis||Symptoms or Causes White, cheesy substance in the mouth, loss of teeth and appetite. If untreated, can be fatal.||Suggested Action Immediately consult your veterinarian.|
|Health Issue Ticks and mites||Symptoms or Causes Parasites on skin, can transmit disease.||Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian.|
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Because all reptiles are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.
Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for reptiles and should consider not having a reptile as a pet.
Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about reptiles and disease.
This care sheet can cover the needs of other species.
Note: The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, refer to the Sources section or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.
Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.