California kingsnakes are cold-blooded, meaning their body temperature fluctuates according to outside temperatures. As a result, California kingsnakes require a temperature-controlled terrarium. But what is the ideal temperature for a California Kingsnake?
The ideal temperature ranges for a California kingsnake enclosure are 72-85 degrees Fahrenheit. That said, there should be a warmer side of the enclosure and a cooler side of the enclosure.
On the warm side of your enclosure, you should try and achieve a temperature of about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooler side should be closer to 72-78 degrees.
This article will explore other topics relating to California kingsnake temperature requirements in their enclosures. I’ll also cover appropriate day and night temperatures and how to maintain them in the enclosure.
Choosing The Ideal Temperature For a California Kingsnake
The ideal and most comfortable temperatures for a California Kingsnake to live in are between 70-78 degrees Fahrenheit for cool and 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit for heat.
Both the cool and hot ranges of temperatures are required so the snake can thermoregulate itself as it does in the wild. Then your kingsnake can choose whether to warm up or cool down.
Your goal should be to make its home with you as close to its natural habitat as possible. The more your California Kingsnake can exhibit natural behaviors, the better off they will be.
California Kingsnake Temperature For Day Time
The daytime temperature in a California Kingsnake terrarium should be around 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. As their name suggests, California Kingsnakes are native to California and surrounding areas.
Thus, Kingsnakes love to bask in the sun during the day and soak up the heat. However, although warmth is important for snake health, Kingsnakes can also overheat.
If a snake overheats, it can sustain neurological damage that causes aggressive behavior such as biting, as well as erratic movement and loss of balance.
Because of this, a California kingsnake enclosure’s temperature should never get too hot. And don’t forget to provide clean water daily.
California Kingsnake Temperature At Night
During the night, Kingsnakes need cooler temperatures and total darkness. They are nocturnal, meaning they rest in the day and are active at night.
So keeping the terrarium dark and cool reflects the climate of their natural habitat.
The best nighttime temperature for a Kingsnake is no lower than 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures drop below this threshold, the snake’s health is at risk.
A too-cold snake can’t digest food, eliminate waste from its body, breathe, or achieve proper circulation and blood flow because it can’t move.
For the health of your snake, you’ll need to maintain temperatures around the 70-75 degree range on the cool side of its tank.
Importance Of Gradient Temperatures For California Kingsnakes
Providing the right temperature gradient for kingsnakes is essential to their health, longevity, and happiness.
The best gradient, as mentioned previously, is 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit on the cold side of the terrarium and 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm side.
Without this gradient, the snake will not be able to maintain its body temperature. Since it cannot heat itself internally like humans, it relies on the gradient to stay at the right level of hot or cold depending on the time of day.
If a California kingsnake’s temperature drops too low or goes too high, it could become ill or even die.
How To Achieve The Ideal Temperature Range For Kingsnakes
Now that we know the proper temperature gradient for the California Kingsnake, let’s talk about how to achieve it. Remember, your snake absolutely must have this gradient to survive.
Achieving the Warm Side of the Gradient Temperature
There are many different options you can use to provide heat and a basking place for your snake. The one that will work best for you depends on the size and other characteristics of the terrarium. The heating selections include:
- Heat lamps: these lamps come with either a white incandescent or red infrared light and are typically placed on top of the terrarium so that the warm light can shine down into it and warm the snake
- Ceramic heaters: a ceramic lamp with the same use as the heat lamp, except that these send out heat without light
- Under tank heat pads: adhered to the bottom of the terrarium from the outside and plugged into the wall to generate heat mechanically; emit heat up into the terrarium to warm the snake’s body
- Under tank heating tape: serves the same purpose as the heating pads, but these are strips of tape stuck to the bottom of the terrarium that sends out heat
Achieving the Cooler Side of the Gradient Temperature
To achieve slightly colder temperatures on the cool side of the terrarium, you can simply make sure that the heat sources mentioned above do not come in contact with that side.
A good idea to help your snake cool down in this area is to include a shady hiding spot where it can rest and keep cool simultaneously.
Monitoring the Temperatures For California Kingsnakes
It is very important that you monitor the terrarium temperature on each side of the gradient. Some ways you can monitor the temperature properly include:
- You Should have a thermometer to keep track of the temperature and humidity in the terrarium.
- Use an ambient temperature monitor to assess the conditions within the room the terrarium is kept in.
- Use a thermometer with a spot check sensor to check the temperature of your snake’s favorite places in the terrarium.
- Set alarms to alert you when temperatures are too high or low
You can use one or a combination of any of these methods, whichever works best for you. There is no right or wrong way to monitor terrarium temperature, as long as you do it regularly.
The ideal temperature for a California kingsnake is 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit for the cool side and 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit for the warm side.
California Kingsnakes need this gradient because they are cold-blooded and cannot internally regulate their body temperature.
Without it, kingsnakes could become sick or even die because they can’t keep their body at the right temperature.
To achieve the proper heat for the gradient’s warm side, you can use a heat lamp, ceramic heater, heat pad, or heat tape. These options can be on only one side of the terrarium and allow the owner to control heat.
The best way to achieve cooler temperatures is to make sure that no heat sources are present on that side. In addition, I would suggest providing a shaded spot for them to hide as well.
You can keep track of the temperature by using a thermometer for internal temperature in the terrarium.
For more on the California Kingsnake check out my full California Kingsnake Care Guide here!