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Old 11-27-17, 01:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
Noh
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Considering a CA King

Hi all! I've been looking into getting my first snake, and one of the snakes I've been considering is a California Kingsnake, as opposed to a Ball Python.

So I've got a few questions about Kingsnakes in particular!

1. I've seen a lot of people use UV lights in their kingsnake's setups. Is this necessary? I've seen a different bunch of people only using the heat pad, and I've also read things by enthusiasts that say UV light is not necessary as long as the snake has a heating pad. I've used UV lights on my plants(yay carnivores!) in the past and while I would use one if necessary, I'd prefer not to because it is a huge hassle.

2. What sort of substrate should I use? I've seen people who say that aspen is bad because it's dry, and others say that sand and dirt are bad because they can get into the snake's mouth and nose. So far what I've gathered is that finely shredded aspen is the best, as it doesn't scratch at the snake's scales and allows them to easily burrow if they want.

3. After the initial investment, how much would it cost to keep one per month? I'd have a little emergency fund set aside for any vet visits or other "surprises" of course.

Thanks for your time!
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Old 11-27-17, 12:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Considering a CA King

Welcome to the forum! Actually Garter snakes are the "classic" first snake or beginners snake. However, it's nice that you chose the Calif. kings as yours. UV lighting certainly won't hurt the animal but it's questionable as to its necessity in the terrarium. Filtered UV light from a adjacent window is probably sufficient. What is essential with a heating pad will be your thermostat to regulate the heat coming off the pad. A lot of the decor and extra lighting will be preferential and what pleases you and the look you want for your animal. Substrate can range from solid white paper towels, unprinted newspaper, to aspen and Sani chips. Very variable except for sand. You may want to mix your substrate also or have a half and half of two different things. It's very hard to put a dollar amount out there bc a lot of how you tailor the setup is subjective. The exotic vet fund for emergencies and wellness is a no brainer and kudos to you for that.
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Old 11-27-17, 12:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Considering a CA King

UV won't penetrate glass so the snake would not be getting any at all through a window then the viv glass.

I'd certainly echo what Albert says that heating and thermostat are critical so if that's all funds allow then get that. I personally consider UV essential essential also and factor in the cost accordingly.

A nice natural dirt mix is good - snakes don't die at the sight of a bit of soil - they've evolved quite well to live in our afterall. Looks really nice as well. With something like a Cali king you can do an awesome looking natural viv without too much difficulty.

Ongoing costs - bar a vet visit you've got power for the viv (one viv doesn't make a big difference at all to the electricity bill - 10+ you start to notice!, food and possibly a change in substrate every so often (depending on whether you go Bioactive or not). I wouldn't have thought it's many $ per month for a single snake..
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Old 11-27-17, 12:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Considering a CA King

1.There are benefits to using UV but it is not necessary in order for your snake to thrive.

2. You have a lot of freedom to use whatever you want. Aspen is a great choice.

3. Snakes are generally very inexpensive to upkeep after the initial costs. Anywhere from $5-$15 for food depending on your source, a bag of substrate, a few bucks more for hydro and that should be it as far as monthly costs go, but always good to keep some away for an unplanned occurance.
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Old 11-27-17, 08:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Considering a CA King

Thanks so much for answering my questions c:

If it's essential I'll buy the snake a uv light, I just find them inconvenient to deal with. Electric costs for one light isn't a problem with me. Of course it was worth it to have my plants, so its more than worth it for an animal. Convenience comes after the animal's health.

I don't think I'd do a bioactive viv, at least not for my first snake. Baby steps.

Some people do more than one water bowl, would you recommend that?
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Old 11-29-17, 09:18 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Considering a CA King

Re: Considering a CA King
UV won't penetrate glass so the snake would not be getting any at all through a window then the viv glass.


It may not penetrate double glass fixtures but if there is a screened top or side it certainly will filter in.
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Old 11-29-17, 02:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Considering a CA King

Whether or not it can penetrate glass is of no concern to me. If it needs uv then I’ll put a light above the viv.

I was wondering if the snake needs uv at all.
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Old 11-29-17, 03:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Considering a CA King

There are benefits to UV light for snakes, yes, but it's not a key essential to the survival of rodent eating snakes (ie- they would die without it), though there are many snakes which very actively bask in nature (like garter snakes) and will exhibit this behavior in captivity too when provided the right lighting setup. Snakes that aren't on a rodent diet at all will benefit hugely from UV light.

Besides the UVb light, which helps with vitamin production and enhances the immune system, those lights also provide sufficient UVa. Many snakes, though not all, can see UV light as part of their vision.

I know from my own experience that my snakes are more active once provided UV light. The snakes will actually seek it out and bask under it, also those considered nocturnal/crepuscular.

It all depends on how you wish to keep your snake, if you want to provide it the best you can, then one should imitate nature. Which means a full spectrum of light going from UVb to IRa with comparable surface temperatures. To achieve that you need a bigger size enclosure for heat dissipation, but you gain a lot of space to get creative with substrates, branches/logs, leaves, plants, etc. One could go one step further and make it bio-active, which basically means that you do not have to clean up anymore besides taking out the indigestible parts of the snake poop that even a clean-up crew of isopods/springtails/millipedes can't easily take care off.
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Old 11-29-17, 03:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Considering a CA King

Even if not necessary for the health of the snake, full spectrum led lights will show you all of its true colors. What is the purpose of getting these guys if not to actually enjoy their natural beauty.
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Old 11-30-17, 05:44 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Considering a CA King

UVB lights are not essential for the snake. None of mine have them, and all are healthy. I use aspen bedding for my Cali kings. One thing that I would recommend however is providing a humid hide. Basically a hide with moist dirt/moss in it. They'll usually use it when they go into shed, but mine just seem to use it whenever. I see no need in providing more than one water bowl. Just keep it clean and change it out regularly.
I will say this though, a Cali kingsnake is a very good choice for a first snake. They're fairly active, usually docile, and have a good feeding response. When I got back into snakes a Cali king was the first I acquired. The only snake that may be better for a beginner is a corn snake, but as far as I'm concerned a Cali kingsnake is just as good.
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Old 11-30-17, 02:09 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Considering a CA King

Iíll get it a uv light if itíll make it that much happier. A moist hide also sounds like a good idea, want the little thing to shed properly. Would the moist hide be on a the cool side of the enclosure or would I need a third hide for that?

And yes Iím very excited about the idea of a kingsnake. I estimate Iíll have enough money by late January to comfortably buy all the items I need and the snake, with room still left over for food and vet.

Dunno where Im gonna buy it from, thereís a local herp and amphibian shop where I live and I might check that out, see If they have kingsnakes and how healthy the animals are. Also ask them about local exotic vets.
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Old 12-04-17, 04:34 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Considering a CA King

I think during my first year with my king, my bills for her were pretty cheap. A package of mice at one of the chain petstores for 4 mice runs about $10-12 which covers a month of food. They would be half that at the local pet store. I feed frozen/thawed so the prices are considering that. I didn't notice a change on the electricity. I found a short cage, like a 10g but half the height. It measures 20x10x6" and I believe it was $15. It housed her for several months. A bag of shredded aspen runs $5-12 depending on what size bag you need. For the first few weeks I used paper towel to monitor her health. Her heating pad was $15 and the thermostats I use run $20ish.

For her set up it came to:
Baby cage: $15
Aspen: $7
Heat pad: $15
Thermostat: $20
Month of food: $12
Hides and Decor: $25 (I splurged)
Total: $94

If I remember right, I saved up $250 before I got her and had some left over.
She also scared me the first winter. I got her in late September and live in California so she went into brumation. My first snake and she wouldn't eat and wouldn't grow. She does this every winter and as such, she's much smaller than other 3 year olds I see. That's okay with me. Saves on feeding bills anyway right?
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