California Kingsnake Enclosure Size | What Size Tank Will You Need?

California kingsnake Enclosure Size

California kingsnakes make great pets and do not require overly large enclosures. The ideal California kingsnake enclosure size is often debated. Some will say a 20 gallon tank is enough for a kingsnake and others will say it needs to be at least 40 gallons. So which is it? What size tank do you need for a California kingsnake? 

The ideal enclosure size for an adult California kingsnake is 40 gallons. Baby California Kingsnakes can start in 10-gallon enclosures. A yearling will require a bit more room with a recommended 30″ x 12″ inches.

A California Kingsnake should be able to crawl around the perimeter without covering more than 2/3rds of the distance. This typically equates to a 36″ x 18″ inch 20-gallon terrarium. That said, I would recommend that a 30 to 40 gallon tank is a better option. 

California kingsnakes have specific requirements when it comes to tank size. The right size enclosure will ensure that your kingsnake remains healthy, happy, and strong while under your care.

The California Kingsnake is one of the most popular snakes to have as a pet. They’re a reasonably easy-going subspecies of the Kingsnake. Kingsnakes can be found across 48 different states in the US, which shows how adaptable they can be to their environment.

What Size Enclosure Do You Need for a Baby California Kingsnake?

Let’s start with the babies, as most people will begin their snake parenthood journey with a newborn. When dealing with a California Kingsnake baby, you can start with a tank that is as small as 10 gallons. A 10-gallon tank will be sufficient for the first year of life or until they reach 18 inches long.

The Zilla Reptile Starter Kit 10 with Light and Heat is an excellent option when searching for a California Kingsnake baby terrarium. This is a 10-gallon starter kit that comes with everything you need to give your baby California kingsnake a desirable place to live and grow. Plus, with the light and heat included, you get the biggest bang for your buck.

Why is the included heat and light so important? Because California Kingsnakes need a certain amount of light and warmth to make them happy. For example, Kingsnake needs:

  • During the day, a temperature of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A basking temperature of 85 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • During the night, a temperature between 72-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Size Enclosure Do You Need for a Yearling California Kingsnake?

When your baby California Kingsnake reaches 18 inches and/or is a year old, you can begin to increase the size of their enclosure. A yearling will typically enjoy a tank that is at least 30” x 12” inches. 

Keep in mind that it is essential to offer your California Kingsnake more space gradually. While you don’t want their tank to be too small, as this can affect their wellbeing, you also don’t want it too large. Why? Because California Kingsnakes can become nervous and anxious with a terrarium that is too large. 

Therefore, it is recommended to start with the 10-gallon tank for your baby California Kingsnake and transfer them at a year old. 

The Hagen Exo Terra Snake Starter Kit is an excellent option for a yearling California Kingsnake. It’s the best pick because it comes with everything your Kingsnake needs to stay healthy and content in its tank. Inside the kit, you will find:

  • Snake bedding. The included bedding will ensure that your Kingsnake has a comfortable spot to relax and nap.
  • Substrate heater. Take a look at the previous section to learn more about why heat is absolutely essential to your Kingsnake’s wellbeing. 
  • Analog thermometer. It’s essential to know the temperature of the tank so you can adjust accordingly. Remember, Kingsnakes prefer different temperatures when it comes to the time of day and whether or not they are basking.
  • An LED light fixture 
  • Water bowl. Your snake needs water to survive.
  • Hide cave. Kingsnakes like to have an area where they can go and hide. A cave is a surefire way to ensure that your Kingsnake is confident and comfortable. 

California Kingsnake Enclosure Size For An Adult Snake

Last but not least, you need the right tank size for your adult California Kingsnake. The general rule of thumb is this: your adult California Kingsnake should be able to crawl around the enclosure’s perimeter without covering more than 2/3rds of the area. With that said, some California Kingsnakes may need a larger enclosure than others.

It really depends on the size of your Kingsnake. However, most adult California Kingsnakes will do well in a 20-gallon enclosure but I would recommend going for a 40 gallon instead.

Larger California Kingsnakes require larger enclosures than others. If your Kingsnake can’t crawl around without extra room, then you may need to upgrade to a 40-gallon tank. 

The REPTI ZOO 34 Gallon Large Reptile Glass Terrarium Tank is a good option for larger adult California Kingsnakes. It’s large enough to hold larger-than-life Kingsnakes. It also comes with a rigid screen, raised bottom for a substrate heater, and window ventilation. You will need to buy the accessories to go with this tank.

Some of the best accessories for your California Kingsnakes tank include:

  • Aiicioo Reptile Under Tank Heater to ensure your Kingsnake stays warm in the ‘warm’ area of the tank.
  • Zoo Med Laboratories Inc-Aspen Snake Bedding provides your snake with a nice spot to bask.
  • Exo Terra Reptile Den to give your California Kingsnake a place to relax and hideaway.

Tips For Success

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing the right tank. Aside from size, California Kingsnake owners should follow these tips:

  • Bigger is usually better. If you think your enclosure is too small, it probably is. It’s always better to go bigger than smaller. Just keep in mind that going too big can also be problematic, as your Kingsnake might become anxious with too much space. The best thing to do is to measure your snake to make the right decision. 
  • It must be escape-proof. California Kingsnakes are known for being brilliant escape artists. Unless you want your slithery friend squeezing his way into your bed, then you need to make sure that the tank is entirely secured and escape-proof. A mesh lid with clamps is recommended.
  • California Kingsnakes should be kept alone unless they’re breeding. California Kingsnakes do best alone. However, if you want to mate your snake, place a single male snake in an enclosure with a few adult females. Males will fight with other males and Kingsnakes are known to eat each other. 
  • Opt for long and narrow as opposed to tall and wide. California Kingsnakes do better when there is plenty of room for crawling. A tall and wide enclosure won’t give him the right amount of space to keep him content. 
  • Pay attention to temperature and humidity. The tank should have a warm and cool side to keep your Kingsnake happy. Under-tank heaters can be used on one side. Keep humidity levels low. The snake can use a small water dish to soak.
  • Use the right substrate. The substrate is also essential when it comes to a sound Kingsnake enclosure. Use items that won’t increase humidity levels. A good option is aspen wood shavings.
  • Add a cave. There should be two caves in the enclosure, one on the warm side and one on the cool side. Kingsnakes aren’t picky about what type of shelter they have, so don’t be too concerned about the style.

For more on the California Kingsnake, check out my Complete California Kingsnake Care Guide Here

Final Thoughts

California Kingsnakes are pretty basic when it comes to handling and care. They don’t require much and aren’t picky about their tank. However, they do need ample space for movement. Babies can start in a 10-gallon tank. Yearlings can go into a 20-gallon tank. Adult California Kingsnakes should have a 40-gallon tank ideally. 

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