Care of Adults
Assuming the kingsnakes feed regularly on whole mice, not too much else can be said about their care that differs from other temperate colubrids. Generally, adults should be fed approximately every six (6) to eight (8) days. Exceptions to this include breeding and brumating animals (see the section on breeding ). Mountain kingsnakes may or may not take mice during their shed period. Though this occurs more on an individual level, pyromelanas and zonatas often refuse food during this period. Almost certainly, mexicanas will continue to feed. Similarly, in the fall, the pyromelanas and zonatas usually stop feeding before the mexicanas . This has been confirmed by other keepers (Applegate).
Feeding occurs conditionally when enviromental requirements, specifically those of thermal nature, have been met. In order to achieve proper temperatures, heat tapes can be threaded through the back of rack systems or rows of cages. Probably the cheapest and most energetically efficient tape available sells by its trade name, Flexwatt. Although a great product, Flexwatt purportedly develops warmer and cooler spots when used in long, continuous sections. Pipe tape refers to a more cable like device that requires rack systems to have routed channels for installation. Pipe tape may cost more and lacks consistent availability. For comparison and further discussion on heat tapes, please see the section on Heat Tape. Ideally, the heat tape should be regulated by a thermostat or calibrated rheostat. The interior area of the enclosure adjacent to the exteriorly fastened heat tape should be maintained at 84 F to 86 F. The opposite area of the enclosure remains at ambient temperature, anywhere from 65 F to 72 F. A timer can be set up to turn off the tapes at night, providing a nightime temperature drop. Prior to brumation (see section on Breeding for additional information), a gradual cooling down period can be achieved by reducing the number of hours a day the heat tape runs. Obviously, this process can be reversed following brumation.
Worth noting, the Durango mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis m. greeri) and the Baja mountain kingsnake (L. z. agalma) tolerate much cooler temperatures than related kingsnakes. Personal observation has revealed greeri to remain active below 60 F. At this temperature most other kingsnakes appear lethargic. Klingenberg noted similar behavior with agalma . This seems consistent with natural behavior when taking into consideration that these two types inhabit higher altitude ecosystems.
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