mexican black kingsnake

Mexican Black Kingsnake Care: A Comprehensive Guide

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Mexican Black Kingsnake is known as the most beautiful predator on the earth. This Mexican Black is a part of Eastern Chain Kingsnake, found in North America. Moreover, it belongs to the family of snakes known for their ability to withstand venom and consume other venomous snakes. These Mexican Blacks are very popular as pets in Arizona and Mexico because of their beauty and non-venomous nature. They are the only Kingsnake in the completely patternless species, which means they have no pattern or design on their body.

As the name implies, Mexican Black Kingsnakes are black, but their skin tone has a sparkling hue that appears bluish or greenish under the bright sun.

Also, if you want to get them as a pet, it is very easy to care for this Mexican Black Kingsnake.

Breed Overview

Breed nameMexican Black Kingsnake, Black Kingsnake
Technical nameLampropeltis Getula Nigrita
Native HabitationArid, desert
Length3 to 4 feet
Lifecycle10 to 20 years 
Foodcarnivore likes to eat small mammals and other snakes
Venomousno
Aggression low
Litter size 3 to 24 
Distinctive featuredark in the shade with shiny scales

About Mexican Black Kingsnake

mexican black kingsnake

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The best snake you can get for yourself is, without a doubt, the majestic Mexican Kingsnake. However, if you get this snake as a pet, keep it in a tight enclosure like a 30-gallon fish tank, where he can move around.

Moreover, Black Mexican snakes have an excellent appetite with high prey drive capabilities. Although this means you cannot keep them with other reptiles, even with their species, because they will consume them.

These snakes are best for beginners as they are easy to handle because of their length. Although they are very quick, you have to be careful while handling them.

At first, Mexican Black King Snakes are quite complex, but you will see them basking, moving, climbing, and even swimming when they get used to it.

Appearance

black mexican kingsnake

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Female Mexican black can reach around 4 feet in length compared to males, which only grow about 3 feet in size when it comes to appearance. Also, the body of female kingsnakes is thick, while the male is slimmer. 

Yet both males and females have the same coloring and patternless bodies. They have sparkling black or dark brown skin tones and under bright light, their scales glitter, giving a bluish appearance. When the light hits right, you can also see the rainbow colors.

Unlike other snakes, the Mexican Black snake has smooth and unpeeled scales on its body. However, their bellies are of the same shade or can be a bit lighter. 

Furthermore, the body of the Mexican Black Kingsnake has a uniform girth or circumference throughout their body with a thinner tail than other snakes. Although, the head of the kingsnakes is slightly bigger than the rest of the body.

Temperament

mexican black kingsnake

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The Black Kingsnakes caught from the wild will take some time to socialize. Unlike other wild reptiles, which cannot socialize, Mexican Black Kingsnakes are not the same.

Firstly, they can bite the handlers not because they are aggressive but because of the high prey drive, as we mentioned before. However, they are quiet around humans but are quite aggressive around other reptiles.

And that’s the reason why this Black Mexican Kingsnake shouldn’t be kept with other snakes because they will cannibalize and consume their kind along with other species of snakes. It’s the mating time only when two Black Kingsnakes come into contact.

Behavior

mexican black kingsnake

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Most snakes are diurnal reptiles, which means they are most active during daylight. While the Black Kingsnake has nocturnal features, which means they are mostly active at night.

Although, if your Kingsnake shows nocturnal or crepuscular behavior, it may be because their bodies are getting hot.

When they fear danger, their go-to behavior is to rattle their tail like a poisonous Russell’s Viper. This is done to trick the predators and keep them away.

Enclosure

mexican black kingsnake

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If the Black Mexican Kingsnakes are still juveniles, it is best to keep them in an enclosure around 10 gallons in size.

After a year, you can get a bigger sized enclosure. An adult Black Mexican Kingsnake needs around 30 X 20 inches of the enclosure.

You need to ensure that the enclosure is big enough to provide a temperature gradient, as it is an important aspect of the snake’s well-being.

If your snake is bigger, choose an enclosure around 40 gallons big enough for them to move around. However, a 30-gallon-sized enclosure is sufficient for average-sized snakes.

Also, opt for bigger Kingsnakes as they are the most active. One thing to note is that Black Kingsnakes are great escape artists. So, if there is any issue or lose joints in the enclosure, they can escape easily. 

This makes it important to make sure you place the lid/door securely clipped.

Also, don’t buy enclosures made of wood, as they are hard to maintain, and with time mold could deposit on the surface, which is toxic for snakes and can even lead to respiratory issues.

You can get glass or plastic enclosures like aquariums or terrariums. Make sure the airflow is sufficient, although this shouldn’t disturb their Temperature gradient.

Mexican Kingsnakes are climbers, swimmers, and even excellent burrowers, so keep such things in their enclosure that mimics the outside environment.

You can also include poles or branches fixed with the enclosure to withstand the snake’s weight. You can also include artificial rocks and sand, and even plants to make it look more real.

After you have completed building your enclosure, clean and sanitize it once a month.

Substrate

mexican black kingsnake

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The natural habitat of the Mexican Black snakes is dry as they mostly live in the desert, therefore, do not add things like mulch that increases humidity.

Also, don’t use pine or cedar wood shaving as they contain oils, which will annoy the snake and cause respiratory issues.

Instead, you can add soft paper, cotton pads, and even hay to the enclosure. Add dry leaves or wood shavings to provide a captivating environment that your snake will like to explore.

Before adding them to their enclosure, make sure you research the enrichment materials’ substances. The vegetation you add to the chamber should not contain any oils. 

Do not add small shavings, too, as they can easily get swallowed by the snake. If you have added shavings to the enclosure, feed the snake in a separate bowl to avoid swallowing of shavings.

As mentioned before, Mexican Black Kingsnake are burrowers, so keep their substrate deep enough to get them inside. 

Your Black King snake’s substrate should be cleaned properly once a day of droppings, the whole enclosure should be cleaned thoroughly every 7-14 days, and a new substrate should be used. 

Temperature

mexican black kingsnake

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The Black Mexican King snake comes under cold-blooded reptiles, which don’t produce their body heat. That is why they are dependent on external sources of heat like the sun to regulate their metabolic process.

They know when to stay hot and when to stay cold, and this is why you should provide them with a temperature gradient enclosure so that they can choose the temperature accordingly.

If you live in a cold region, we recommend you to use an under-tank heating pad which will create a warm ambient temperature for your snake. 

If you are placing a shelter in the enclosure, it should be placed at 85o F. You can also add extra hideaways. Also, your snakes need a basking spot which can be achieved by keeping a heat lamp on the top of the tank. 

The heating lamp you add for the basking spot should be covered behind a screen to keep the snake from touching and burning itself.

You can pair the heating lamp and heating pad with a thermostat to regulate temperature. Before getting the snake, play around with the heating lamp and heating pad to get the perfect gradient temperature. A sudden change in temperature in the enclosure can even kill the snake.

If you notice that your snake is spending most of the time at the basking spot, the enclosure is cold for them. In such a case, you can increase the heating pad’s temperature by 1℉ and keep an eye until they start moving around. 

While if your snake isn’t using the basking spot at all, it might be too hot for them. Try to reduce the temperature of the heating lamp 1℉ at a time until they start using it.

Keeping the temperatures in check is important because it can kill your Mexican Black Kingsnake.

Cool Side75℉
Warm Side85℉
Basking Area90℉

Lighting

You do not need a full spectrum of lights for your Black Mexican snake. Although, you can opt for UVB lighting as they are known to boost immunity and offer other health benefits. 

You can also save some money by getting a combination of UVB and heat lamps or choosing the LED terrarium lighting.

No matter what lights you choose, it should be on a timer of 12/12 light/dark to create a full working day. 

However, an inconsistent photocycle can cause your snake to stress. 

If you are not sure about the lighting, you can keep the enclosure near the window, which will provide natural daylight. But at the same time, make sure the chamber doesn’t get direct sunlight.

Humidity

black mexican kingsnake

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The Black Kingsnake belongs to the family that requires around 40% to 60% humidity. However, the level of humidity increases during shedding.

If you have bought Mexican Black as a pet, there are various ways to maintain humidity. One such method is by providing your snake with 40% humidity in a humid hide. 

The humid hide has to be on the warmer side of the enclosure. To create a moist coat, take some sphagnum moss, mist it properly with water, and place it in the chamber. 

Mist it daily to keep the humid hide damp, thus ensuring proper humidity. To maintain appropriate humidity levels, get a quality hydrometer.

Diet

black mexican kingsnake

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As we mentioned before, Mexican Black Kingsnakes are excellent swimmers, so you can place a water pot in the enclosure and make sure:

  • It has to be huge enough to fit the snake in
  • It has to be deep so that the water doesn’t spill into the enclosure when the snake dives because it will increase the humidity levels.
  • Replace the water every day.
  • Along with replacing water, clean the water pot thoroughly to prevent it from building slime.

Food 

black mexican kingsnake

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Mexican Black Kingsnakes have a good appetite and will eat as often as you keep providing food. 

Therefore, keeping them on a weekly or bi-monthly feeding routine is necessary. This Black Kingsnake eats small mammals and other reptiles while in the wild. But in captivity, they should be given rodents. 

We recommend you to feed frozen/thawed prey as they do not carry any germs and are good for your snake. When you want to provide the frozen prey, place it in a warm water bowl so that the prey is thawed. 

Always keep in mind that do not feed your snake preserved food as the cold temperature will be dangerous for their body.

Also Read: Interesting Facts About Baby Bearded Dragon

Potential Health Issues

black mexican kingsnake

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External Parasites

One of the most common yet dangerous parasites for snakes is mites. They are very small dotted creature that sits on the snake’s body and gets underneath the skin for blood. 

If you ever see something on your snake’s body, that is a poor sign of enclosure hygiene, and you may need to clean and sanitize the whole thing.

Respiratory Issues

Black Kingsnakes are prone to respiratory issues resulting from wrong humidity levels or wrong substrate. To take care of your Mexican Black Kingsnake, keep an eye on the hydrometer and keep the humidity level under 60%.

Also, check whether the substrate you are using doesn’t contain shavings from oil-producing trees.

Obesity

Obesity is not just dangerous for humans, but they create real problems for captive-bred snakes. Snakes’ organs like the heart and kidneys can get affected due to obesity, thus leading to organ failure.

If your snake is not eating properly or shredding or breeding, acting very lethargic, or over-soaking, these are the signs which show something is wrong with your pet, and they need to see the vet immediately.

Final Thoughts

If you are thinking of getting a Mexican Black Kingsnake, it’s a great choice as a pet because they are active and will keep you entertained for a long time. They have beautiful skin with sparkling black scales and small bodies which can be handled easily.

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