Mexican Black Kingsnakes make good beginner pet snakes because they are not venomous and tolerate being handled pretty well. When you are not handling these snakes, you can expect to see them active during the day, foraging and looking for their next kill, or basking.
In order to properly care for these fun, active, and unique snakes, there are many facts you need to know about the Mexican Black Kingsnake before buying one as your pet. Read on to find out more about this snake.
Quick Facts about Mexican Black Kingsnakes
|Species Name:||Lampropeltis getula nigrita|
|Common Name:||Mexican Black Kingsnake|
|Lifespan:||15 to 25 years|
|Adult Size:||4 feet|
|Minimum Tank Size:||40-gallon glass|
|Temperature & Humidity||Daytime temperature: 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
Basking Temperature: 88 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit
Humidity: 40% to 60%
Do Mexican Black Kingsnakes Make Good Pets?
Mexican Black Kingsnakes make great pets, especially for beginners. Compared to other snakes, they have simple dietary requirements, and they like being handled. They are also much more active than other snakes, meaning you can enjoy watching these snakes hunt and bask during the day.
The only time you should consider getting a different snake as a pet is if you want to house multiple snakes in the same enclosure and don’t want to take the time to set up the specific cage required by Mexican Black Kingsnakes.
Sometimes, Mexican Black Kingsnakes are mistaken for other Kingsnake types or the dark corn snake. However, you could easily recognize the snake by looking at its all-black appearance, including the black belly. However, their black scales can look iridescent blue in the daylight.
This Kingsnake is the only snake within the family without a pattern, though the juveniles may have a spot or two on their chin. Plus, it can be next to impossible to properly sex these animals.
How to Take Care of Mexican Black Kingsnakes
The most difficult part of taking care of a Mexican Black Kingsnake is ensuring it has the proper enclosure. If you master the habitat and tank conditions for your Mexican Black Kingsnake, the rest should be smooth sailing.
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
Whenever you are setting up your snake’s habitat, the goal is to make the setup as close to its natural habitat as possible.
To begin, select a 40 gallon glass tank. Babies can be kept in 15 gallon enclosures, but adults will need a 40 gallon enclosure. You can tell that the tank is too small for a snake whenever it rubs its nose against the glass.
We recommend placing branches horizontally inside the tank so that the snake can explore. Add artificial foliage, hide boxes, and hollow pipes for the snake to hide in. We recommend adding a swimming area for the snake to rest in too.
Spot clean your tank every night, and deep clean it once a month with a reptile safe cleaner. You may need to spot clean more frequently during the snake’s shedding phase.
Mexican Black Kingsnakes do not require UVB lighting, but you still can use a low wattage bulb for heat. Do not place the enclosure right next to a window, for this can lead to dangerously high temperatures inside the enclosure.
Heating (Temperature & Humidity)
Heating is one of the more difficult parts of the Mexican Black Kingsnake’s enclosure. There needs to be a warm and cool area. You want the hot side to be between 88 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit right above the basking area. As for the cool side, it should be between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even though Mexican Black Kingsnakes are native to the desert, they do well in moderate humidity. You want between 40% and 60% humidity in the enclosure.
You want the substrate to be loose enough that the snake can burrow. At the same time, it should retain moisture for humidity control. We recommend using a coconut fiber and soil mixture, so long as the enclosure is not made from plastic. Do not use pine or cedar shavings.
|Tank Type||40-gallon glass vivarium|
|Heating||75W basking bulb over basking area|
|Best Substrate||Coconut fiber and soil mixture|
Feeding Your Mexican Black Kingsnake
Because Mexican Black Kingsnakes are on the larger side of the spectrum, they have a large appetite and great hunting abilities to match. In the wild, they can eat lizards, toads, rodents, and even other snakes.
In captivity, simply feeding your Mexican Black Kingsnake frozen rodents will suffice. We recommend frozen rodents because they are less harmful to the snake. You will need to dethaw the rodent before feeding.
Feed baby Mexican Black Kingsnakes every 5 days, juveniles every 7 to 10 days, and adults every 10 to 14 days.
|Meat||100% of diet – small/medium sized rodents (frozen preferred)|
Keeping Your Mexican Black Kingsnake Healthy
To keep your Mexican Black Kingsnake healthy, the most important thing to do is to provide it the proper enclosure and diet. Signs of a healthy snake include consistent feeding, regular shedding, and hunting or foraging behaviors.
If you notice your snake refusing its prey, biting itself, or doing other behaviors that are abnormal for a healthy snake, it is likely sick and needs to see an exotic vet right away.
Common Health Issues
Some of the most common health issues found in Mexican Black Kingsnakes include the following:
- Mouth rot
- Respiratory infections
Most of these issues require diagnosis and care from an exotic veterinarian that specializes in snakes.
In captivity, Mexican Black Kingsnakes can live up to 25 years. If you want your snake to live this long, it’s important to provide the snake the proper enclosure and diet, as well as pay attention to the snake’s mannerisms and conditions.
If you notice that your snake is acting different, it’s a great idea to take it to an exotic pet to ensure that there are no illnesses that need to be rectified.
Mexican Black Kingsnakes, and Kingsnakes in general, are incredibly solitary creatures. The only time they interact with one another is to breed. In order to breed the snakes, you need to induce brumation.
You will need to place the male inside the female’s enclosure after brumation, but keep a close eye on them. They may eat one another if they do not reproduce.
If everything goes according to plan, the female will lay eggs two months after copulation. Remove the eggs as soon as they are laid and incubate them. After two months, they should hatch.
Are Mexican Black Kingsnake Friendly? Our Handling Advice
Mexican Black Kingsnakes enjoy handling as long as they were exposed to it at a young age. Adults that were never held when they were younger rarely like being held later in life. Conversely, snakes exposed show signs of enjoying being held.
To get your Mexican Black Kingsnake accustomed to people and handling, we recommend gently picking the snake up when it is young. Keep in mind that the young may become mildly defensive when you try to hold them, but they will grow out of this.
Make sure to wash your hands before and after handling to prevent spread of diseases.
Shedding & Brumation: What to Expect
In captivity, snakes may not brumate since it is triggered by changes in the temperature and humidity. You can induce brumation if you would like. This is recommended if you want to breed these snakes. Keep in mind that brumation means the snake will be less active, but it is not totally hibernated.
After the brumation period, the snake will shed. Even if you never force brumation, adult Kingsnakes shed 2 to 6 times a year. It may be helpful to raise the humidity levels a bit and do extra cleaning during this time.
How Much Do Mexican Black Kingsnakes Cost?
Today, most Mexican Black Kingsnakes cost between $200 and $250. The price can be slightly affected by the size and age of the snake, as well as the breeder’s location. It’s important to select a Mexican Black Kingsnake that was bred in captivity because it will be more comfortable with human handling and is less likely to spread diseases.
Care Guide Summary
All around, Mexican Black Kingsnakes make a great beginner snake. Their large size and more docile nature means that you can enjoy holding these snakes. Not to mention, they are pretty active, making them fun to watch during the day as well.
If you are looking to breed snakes, Mexican Black Kingsnakes may not be the best place to start simply because they are more finicky. Nevertheless, this is a great breed if you want to try your hand in snake ownership.
Feaured Image Credit: Murilo Mazzo, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.