California king snakes (Lampropeltis getula californiae) are reptiles that enjoy a great deal of admiration in the pet world, as they tend to thrive in captivity. Within the United States, the common kingsnake subspecies lives wild exclusively in the southwestern portion of California; they also can be found in Mexico's Baja California.
Although many of these family Colubridae creatures are kept as pets, many more of them continue to live out in their original habitats, too. Typical living environments for California king snakes are desert, semi-desert, swamps, scrubland, rugged outcrops, agricultural sites, grassland and forests. The often crepuscular constrictors are highly versatile in this manner, and sometimes are even spotted in areas of relatively dense human habitation. California king snakes are especially common in settings close to creeks. When they are used to captive environments, they generally become pleasant and mild in disposition. Wild specimens that feel frightened, however, often behave aggressively -- think painful biting. They generally grow to lengths of between 2.5 and 6 feet.
California king snakes in nature aren't picky about their meals. If a prey item is tiny enough to consume in one piece, they generally go for it. Some common foods for wild California king snakes are frogs, birds, lizards, wee turtles and mice. They frequently even chow down on fellow snakes, specifically rattlesnakes. Rattlesnake poison has little to no effect on them, after all. They appreciate poisonous and non-poisonous snakes alike. As far as bird prey goes, chicks are a preference for them. They also enjoy eating eggs, namely those of reptiles and birds.
Food Options for Captive California King Snakes
As pets and animals in zoos, California king snakes flourish on diets consisting largely of mice. They can eat frozen mice, as long they are adequately thawed. Take note that live prey can sometimes be hazardous to the snakes by biting them. Avoid putting your pet in danger by offering him prey animals that were killed beforehand.
California king snakes can do fine on once-a-week feeding sessions. However, more frequent feeding sessions -- think a minimum of two times weekly -- generally encourage speedier development. Note that these snakes aren't always willing to eat more than once per week. If you think that your mature California king snake is overweight, it's probably time to minimize his food intake. Speak to an exotic veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding your snake's eating habits and overall health.