King snakes are happiest at temperatures between 24°C and 29°C. The smaller your snake is, the faster it will lose heat, so it’s best to keep young king snakes at the upper end of this temperature range. Keep a thermometer inside your snake’s enclosure (not pressed against the glass, as this will be cooler) so that you can monitor the temperature at all times, as even a short spell of being too hot or too cold can lead to illness.
In order to give your snake some ability to control its own temperature, it’s a good idea to heat just half of the enclosure directly (your thermometer will measure the ambient temperature). Your snake can then move around when it wants to be warmer or cooler. Ideally it should have an incandescent basking lamp fitted so that it can lie around and enjoy the heat on its skin during daylight hours, with a shady space to escape to if it starts to heat up too much as a result. It will also feel safer for having somewhere to hide.
Even though snakes are cold blooded they do produce some heat of their own as a result of bodily functions like movement and digestion. A narrow hiding place will therefore give them some insulation, making it easier for them to establish a comfortable body temperature.
Using the right substrate for your snake’s enclosure can also help with heat retention. Newspaper is a good insulator. It’s comfortable for the snake to slide across and it’s easy to change when it gets soiled. You can also use old carpet for this purpose – not soft indoor carpeting, but the rugged outdoor kind that won’t come apart as the snake moves on it.
Readers should note that each species of snake has its own ideal temperature, so you shouldn’t take this advice too generally. Because snakes are very delicate animals it’s important to do your research before you buy them and make sure you have a suitable environment to take them home to. Snakes’ love of warmth is one of the reasons why they love to be held – they like to steal your body heat!