California Kingsnakes are beautiful snakes and can make fascinating pets, but a lot of work goes into having one and keeping it happy. Getting the right humidity levels in your California kingsnake’s enclosure is one thing you must get right. But what is the best humidity levels for a California kingsnake enclosure?
The ideal humidity level for a California Kingsnake enclosure is around 40 to 60 percent. Keeping your kingsnake’s enclosure at this humidity level will keep the snake’s respiratory system healthy and help with shedding.
A lot goes into this and may seem a little daunting at first, but it’s really not hard. Let’s dig a little deeper and find out just how you can keep the proper humidity levels and why you’d want to.
The Ideal Humidity Level For A California Kingsnake
The California kingsnake’s natural environment has high humidity levels. You want your enclosure to mimic its natural environment at all times (as much as possible) to keep it happy and healthy.
Ideally, you’ll want to keep the humidity of a California Kingsnake’s setup between 40 – 60 percent. This humidity level will do several things for the snake—namely, it will keep its respiratory system strong and help it shed its skin, which we’ll talk about more below.
Why California Kingsnakes Need Humidity
One of the most important aspects of California kingsnake care is proper temperatures and humidity levels. It’s imperative to keep your kingsnake’s enclosure at the proper humidity levels for optimal health. If you allow it to get low, your kingsnake has a hard time shedding and this can cause a range of additional health issues.
If the humidity gets too high, your California Kingsnake could develop sores and blisters. Too high humidity can also give your snake a severe respiratory infection—and more—so don’t think that higher humidity is always better.
What Is Too High Humidity For California Kingsnakes?
Just remember, for the sake of your kingsnake’s health, to keep humidity no lower than 40 percent and no higher than 60. Going a little bit above 60 might not be the end of the world for your kingsnake. That said, there is no reason to go above 60 percent humidity in a California kingsnake enclosure.
So if you are getting humidity readings below 40 or above 60 percent, then it is time to adjust. Don’t worry we will cover how to control the humidity levels here is a minute.
How to Keep the Right Humidity Levels For Your Kingsnake
So, now that we’ve gone over the why of the matter let’s get into the “how’s.” Thankfully, it’s not very hard to maintain the humidity levels in your California kingsnake’s enclosure. In fact, they should never be an issue—unless, of course, you live in an arid climate, in which case you might have to do a little extra work.
Here are some tips for keeping your humidity levels high in arid climates:
- Place a bowl of water on the heated side of the enclosure.
- Mist the enclosure on a regular basis or as needed.
- You can also use natural material like damp peat moss to help keep the humidity levels up.
If you find your humidity level has fallen too low, then you can mist it to bring it back up. If your humidity level is too high, move the water bowl or increase the enclosure’s ventilation. They also make dehumidifiers for reptile tanks, so if this is an ongoing issue then you may want to look into getting your snake one.
How to Measure Humidity Levels In Your Kingsnakes Enclosure
Knowing what the proper humidity levels for your California Kingsnake are all well and good, but what good does it do if you don’t know how to measure the humidity?
One way to tell if the humidity is too low is to keep an eye on your snake during its shedding. If it’s having a hard time shedding, then the temperature is too low, and you need to increase it. If the humidity level is too well, your snake may just develop sores and blisters.
Neither of these is the best way of managing your aquarium’s humidity, and in fact, you shouldn’t try to “eyeball it” at all. You need to invest in the right tools for the job. Mismanaging your tank’s humidity could turn it into a death trap for your snake.
To manage the humidity, you’ll need to get a hydrometer. You can pick them up at just about any pet store for as low as three bucks. So, don’t make your snake suffer because you want to pinch a penny. Get the meter and ensure your humidity levels are perfect so you can have a happy, healthy snake.
Best Substrate Proper Humidity
You might be asking yourself, what in the heck are substrates? Well, it’s really just a fancy way of saying the bedding of the bottom of the enclosure. Using the proper substrates is another vital point in regulating your California Kingsnakes enclosure’s humidity level and promoting good health. You definitely don’t just want to leave the bottom of the enclosure bare.
Try to keep your bedding 3 or 4 inches deep as these guys love to burrow, and it’ll give them some space to do so,
There are some things that you definitely should avoid when making a bed for your snake:
- Any kind of pine or cedar will be harmful to the kingsnake, so avoid it at all costs
- Stay away from small rocks and pebbles because they could get ingested during feeding time and damage the snake’s digestive system.
- And keep away from sand for the same reason as small rocks; it’s not good for their digestive tract.
Here are a few examples of acceptable bedding for kingsnakes:
- Plain paper towels (temporarily)
- Aspen shavings (we recommend Zoo Med’s Aspen bedding)
- Zoo Med Eco Carpet (but be sure to provide extra hiding spots since they cannot burrow)
However, those options are fairly utilitarian and not the most visually appealing. Thankfully, you can pick up products for your enclosure that are safe for your snake and look natural.
If you want a more natural feel to the enclosure then check out some of these products:
- Zoo Med Forest Floor bedding
- Several homemade recipes exist—just be double sure the person providing the recipe is knowledgeable and the ingredients are safe
You’re going to want to clean your enclosure every time the snake defecates, which may be several times a week with a California Kingsnake as they tend to eat more frequently than other species.
When to change the substrate depends on your tank size and it’s usually best judged by just keeping an eye on it over time. At the very least, you should replace the substrate once a month when you do your deep clean of their tank.
Temperature and Lighting Affects Humidity Levels In Your Snake’s Enclosure
Temperature and lighting can play an important role in maintaining and managing the humidity levels of your enclosure. The lighting that you are using affects the temperature of the enclosure. In turn, the temperature of the enclosure will determine how much moisture the air can hold.
If the air in your kingsnakes enclosure is too cool, it may not be able to hold the proper humidity levels needed to keep your snake healthy. This is why keeping the appropriate temperature and lighting is so vital.
Here are the temperatures that you’ll need to keep each section of your California Kingsnake’s enclosure:
- The cool side needs to be between 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
- On your warm side, keep it around 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
These temperatures are the temperatures that the California Kingsnake is adapted to and will help you reach, regulate and maintain the proper humidity levels needed in your enclosure.
For the lighting, you’ll want something like a 75-100 watt bulb, depending on the size of your enclosure. Using the proper heat lamp set up and closing up the enclosure top will hold the moisture.
Humidity plays a vital role in the well-being of your California Kingsnake, and with a small amount of time and effort, you can maintain a perfect environment for your snakes. They are definitely a great fit for anyone who has an affinity toward snakes, and their low maintenance makes them good for first-time snake owners.
Just remember to monitor their humidity and lend them a helping hand when they need it.