How Big Do California Kingsnakes Get? | California Kingsnake Size

How big do California kingsnakes get?

If you’re looking to break into the world of pet snakes, many consider the California kingsnake to be the perfect size snake. They are big enough to easily handle without being too fragile like many other smaller snakes. But just how big do California kingsnakes get? 

The average California kingsnake is about 3-5 feet long. Female California kingsnakes tend to be bigger than males. Though they can reach even up to 6 feet in some cases, they are not heavy and thick like pythons or boas. 

When they first hatch, California Kingsnakes are around 8 to 12 inches long. As adults, they will be likely reach 3-5 feet, so make sure this is a good size before purchasing one as a pet. 

If you’d like to learn more about what you can expect from the growth of your pet California Kingsnake, we’ve got you covered. We’ll break down everything from how quickly they grow, to what size enclosures they tend to like best. We’ll even provide you a few reasons why they might just be the snake for you if you’re a beginner!

For a more complete guide to caring for a California kingsnake check out my California King Snake Care Sheet

California Kingsnake Size: Average Length and Weight

California kingsnakes may not always seem as long as they really are. This is because, while they are quite large in terms of length, they’re also rather thin, lacking any bulkiness. 

When they are fully grown these snakes tend to weigh no more than three pounds. The average snake weighs between four and five pounds and oftentimes doesn’t get as long as the California kingsnake.

So even though California kingsnake’s size might seem large when it comes to length, they are not heavy or big looking snakes like pythons. For example, blood pythons typically reach similar lengths of 4-6 feet but can weigh up to 50 lbs

Their lightweight and easy-going nature have the benefit of making them seem more approachable to beginners who are raising their first pet snake. Just remember, though they may not seem as intimidating due to their weight, they can be a bit nippy. 

How Long Before a California Kingsnake Reaches Full Size?

California kingsnakes grow rather quickly for how long they get. Within a short three to four years they develop into adults. Though depending on whether they are male or female they will reach sexual maturity at different times. 

Males tend to mature at around one to four years, while for females the process can take two to four years. This is important to know if you plan on breeding the adults or want to understand their behavior. 

When females reach this state they shed their skin to attract mates with its scent and exhibit an insatiable hunger. Meanwhile, the males will behave in much the opposite way, avoiding prey.  

What Size Tank Do California Kingsnakes Need?

The answer to this question in part depends on how old they are. Adult California kingsnakes tend to like larger aquariums that may make their younger counterparts feel lost and stressed.

They are also excellent escape artists, so they will need something that can contain them but still give them room for movement and exploration based on their age and size.  

  • Hatchling: If you’ve got a baby California kingsnake, you should only need a container about the size of a shoebox. They can live in this small space for the next several months but as they grow, so should their enclosure. 
  • Juvenile: As a general rule of thumb, if the snake doesn’t cover ⅔ of the enclosure’s perimeter when crawling around it, it’s not big enough. Still, if you can give them a tank that’s a little bigger, it really won’t hurt them.    
  • Adult: When they reach adulthood a 20-gallon enclosure is the smallest size tank you could get away with. However, I personally think a 40-gallon tank is more appropriate. Just make sure that you have a covering over the top that will not let them escape but will still let natural light in. 

It’s important to note that in the wild California kingsnakes perform a process called thermal regulation by moving around to areas with various temperatures. This means that you need to have some options spread out through the tank that will help them regulate their temperature. 

Usually, you can just put a reptile pad on one end (the hot end) and let the other end cool off by the natural temperature of the room. For more on California kingsnake enclosure size requirements check out my article: What size tank do you need for a California Kingsnake

Do You Need A Larger Tank If Housing Multiple Kingsnakes?

Unless you’re breeding them, you shouldn’t put multiple California kingsnakes in one enclosure. This isn’t because they’re too big for one enclosure as you might guess. No, it’s for a much more sinister reason. 

Depending on the age and sex of your pet snakes, they might actually eat one another if they are left alone together. Juveniles are most likely to do this, however, it can happen at almost any age. 

If you want to introduce two snakes, wait till they have grown a few feet, then watch them closely to make sure that they are not aggressive towards one another. If you’re looking to breed them, make sure you only place one male in with several other females. 

Are California Kingsnakes Too Big For Beginners?

As we’ve alluded to in the introduction, California kingsnakes are known for being great beginner snakes. So, if you’re looking for your first pet snake, the following attributes might make these kingsnakes perfect for you:

  • Perfect Size: Everyone loves a giant snake (at least snake lovers do). Still, long snakes can sometimes be intimidating to pick up. With California kingsnakes, you get a nice long snake, that doesn’t always seem as big as it is. Now you can brag about having a 4 ft long snake without feeling a little terrified when you see it. For most people, the size of the California kingsnake is just right.
  • Temperament: These snakes tend to have a calm, friendly temperament. They are usually okay with being picked up after they get comfortable with you. Just remember to give them time and don’t come in too fast right away. 
  • Easy to Care For: You don’t need a fancy enclosure–just a tank that is large enough–or any difficult-to-find heat lamps. For a pet snake, these guys are pretty low maintenance and a joy to be around.  
  • Beautiful Designs: Finally, these are simply beautiful snakes. Though they can come with a wide variety of different individual patterns, the patterning on their skin is usually broken down into two basic types. The most common–and the one you are likely already familiar with–is the ringed pattern. The rare type is called the striped pattern; lines that run vertically down its body.

Do California Kingsnakes Bite?

If you’re considering getting one of these snakes, ensure to seek out a reputable breeder that supports the healthy caretaking of these incredible creatures. The only small warning I must give you is that California kingsnakes have been known to bite.

This is especially true if you smell like prey or even other snakes, so make sure to wash your hands before picking them up.

Thankfully, however, the bites are not something that is typically going to cause any serious damage. But they could draw blood. These snakes have small teeth and it is usually not a big problem.

However, I feel the need to mention it in case you have small children. No one wants their kid’s friends to go tell their parents that your kid’s pet snake bit them.

Is the California Kingsnake The Right Sized Snake For You?

While California kingsnakes don’t get super bulky, they can get pretty long. Normally as adults, they’re 3 to 5 feet long, but some have even been recorded at up to six ft in length! The males tend to be smaller than females and develop within a shorter period of time. The females on the other hand are larger and take longer to mature. 

To properly house your California kingsnake, you’ll need to make sure you have the right size tank or aquarium. For hatchlings, this is usually about the size of a shoebox. For adults, 20 gallons should do. However, a 40-gallon tank is more appropriate for the size of a California kingsnake. 

If you’re not sure, remember that when they crawl around the perimeter of the aquarium, they should cover about ⅔ of its distance. With the proper size tank and great care, you’ll have yourself a beautiful pet snake for a long time!

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