The Mexican black kingsnake, or Western black kingsnake, is widely regarded as a lovely animal. They are popular choices among pet owners for several reasons. I will get into the reasons later on. For now, let me give you the basics.
Fundamentals: name, length, weight, lifespan, and is it deadly?
While its Latin name, Lampropeltis getula nigrita, is admittedly a bit of a mouthful, it can be easily broken down. The genus, Lampropeltis, is a combination of lampros (Greek), meaning brilliant or radiant, and pelta (Latin), meaning small shield. The last word, nigrita (Latin), means black.
The second word is a sticking point when it comes to Mexican black kingsnakes. Getula (Latin) refers to the Getulians, of Morocco, whose culture was suffused with a chain-like pattern found on the nominative species, Lampropeltis getula, or Eastern kingsnake. The Mexican black kingsnake doesn’t have these bands, so that part can be slightly confusing.
Wild Mexican black kingsnakes are of moderate length, but they can grow longer in captivity. On average, they grow to between 3 and 4 ft (90-120cm). The longest specimens, bred in captivity, were as long as 5 ft (152cm). The increased length in a captive environment is thought to be the result of increased nutrition, and a more stable diet. They typically weigh in at around 3 lbs, sometimes as much as 4 lbs.
Its lifespan is typically anywhere between 20 and 30 years, so if you take one home, be prepared to look after it for a long time. The Mexican black kingsnake is one of several subspecies of the common kingsnake—the kingsnake family is very large, which makes getting everyone together at Christmas a bit of a headache.
Kingsnakes, like most other colubrids, are not deadly, as they do not possess venom.
What is a colubrid?
Colubridae is the largest family of snakes, comprising 51% of known snake species. To be precise, the colubrid family contains 524 genera, and more than 1,700 subspecies. Colubrids can be traced back as far as the Oligocene epoch, which ran from 33.9 million to 23 million years ago. The colubrids’ emergence during this epoch might be due to the global expansion of grasslands. In other words, these snakes are heller old, and ought to be treated with some respect.
Extant on every continent but Antarctica, colubrids are mostly non-venomous. I say ‘mostly’, because the family includes boomslangs and twig snakes (both native to Africa), which are both highly venomous and quite naughty.
What does a Mexican black kingsnake look like?
The Mexican black kingsnake has an oval shaped head not much larger than its neck. This gives the impression, from a distance, of a snake slithering headless, or finishing too abruptly. Its head sits on the end of a plump, stocky body—these snakes are relatively girthy, compared to snakes of a similar length.
Younglings are sometimes dotted with yellow or white spots, but these fade away as the snake reaches adulthood. Fully grown adults do not have any discernible markings. If some remain, they are most often limited to under the chin.
In many lights they appear pitch black. Look at them under direct light, however, and they will reveal themselves as a deep, rich chocolate color, glossy and gorgeous—think 85% cacao and you’re close. It’s a dark enough brown to fool people on first glance, though in certain lights their scales’ sheen can shine a bluish color. This is because of the way the enamel shimmers.
Where do Mexican black kingsnakes live?
These blackish beauties are indigenous to the United States, and quite specifically localized. They are found in the Sonoran Desert, Northwestern Sinaloa, Mexico, and Arizona. The purest form is found in Mexico.
The Mexican black kingsnake is well suited to dry environments. As such, they are found predominantly in deserts, but display a remarkable versatility. They are also comfortable in grasslands and semi-arid deserts, with or without rocky outcroppings. They also like vegetation, because of the cover it affords.
In very hot areas, under the scorching desert sun, the Mexican black kingsnake will take cover in other animals’ burrows, or under debris or vegetation. In these conditions, it hunts at night, when it is significantly cooler. This is a survival mechanism.
In Arizona, the Mexican blacksnake interbreeds with another subspecies of kingsnake, the desert black kingsnake (or California kingsnake). The resulting hybrid is not considered a ‘pure’ Mexican black kingsnake.
I’ve never owned a snake before. Are they suitable pets?
Good news! The Mexican black kingsnake is a popular choice for first-time snake owners.
Unlike many other colubrids, they are diurnal (active day and night), which makes regular interactions easier. They are good-natured and non-venomous, and comparatively easy to care for. What’s more, their bulk and hardiness means that, at least as adults, they can feed on live rodents, as well as thawed frozen ones.
I will go into much more detail on their temperament and behavioral patterns below!
How much will it cost to buy a Mexican black kingsnake?
Mexican black kingsnakes used to be a lot cheaper than they are now. They have risen from under $100 in the late 1990s to $200 for a hatchling at time of writing. It’s anybody’s guess whether it will continue to inflate, or whether the fluctuation will bring it down to a market standard in the coming years.
If it follows a similar supply-and-demand pattern to the Brazilian rainbow bow, then the price may well plateau in the near future.
How to handle the Mexican black kingsnake
This is a typically docile, even-tempered and pleasant-natured snake. For this reason it is a very popular pet snake. Its tractability makes it appropriate for first-time snake owners, and on the whole it is very popular in the pet industry. It was almost the first kingsnake to be bred on a regular basis for solely domestic purposes.
It is especially hard to go wrong with adults. For this reason, if you’re an absolute beginner in the world of snake handling and husbandry, I recommend going for an adult. They are stress-free, unfussy eaters, and not as flighty or nervous as hatchlings and juveniles.
All snakes should be handled with care and sensitivity. In evolutionary terms, they have not been domesticated for long, and instinctual habits die hard. The same goes for the Mexican black kingsnake: don’t force it, don’t be disrespectful.
Having said that, handle your snake confidently. It will read your emotions and react accordingly.
Do not over-handle your snake
Give it time to… be a snake—that means allowing it long periods of isolation if that’s what it wants, which it will.
Handle these snakes for a maximum of 30 minutes per day. 10-20 minutes is probably enough. If the snake feels stressed or over-handled, it may become defensive, or even go on hunger strike. This is a sign that you should back off a bit. Give it some space. Leave it alone until it starts eating again—eating is paramount!
Will it want to play after eating?
No. Do not bother your snake for two days after it’s eaten. Stress is the biggest cause of death when it comes to keeping snakes!
Mexican black kingsnakes are solitary by nature. Therefore they naturally prefer to spend much of their time in isolation. But good health and a high level of wellbeing depend on regular exercise—much as in humans! To this end, make sure your snake has plenty of wiggle room in its enclosure. A freshwater basin large enough to fully submerge itself is ideal. But I will cover cage recommendations in more detail below.
If it feels threatened, a Mexican black kingsnake will rattle its tail and beat it against the ground. While this sort of behavior was made famous by rattlesnakes, it is quite common among kingsnakes. Indeed, there are many colubrids which exhibit this behavior. It is a sign that the snake would like alone time. Actual strikes are rare.
If a wild Mexican black kingsnake is severely threatened – picked up by a predator, for example – it may release a foul-smelling musk, or even defecate, to deter its would-be killer. Such predators range from mammals, such as coyotes, foxes and wild cats, to owls, hawks and other birds of prey.
Will it bite me?
Probably not, and if it does, it will be seldom. As a rule, bites are rare, though most common among hatchlings.
But what if it does?
If you do get bitten and there are skin perforations, wash the wound thoroughly with warm water and soap. It’s not a big deal—it’s much worse to be bitten by a dog, or even a cat. Shallow snake bites heal quickly, as the teeth are sharp and narrow, and will only pierce the skin. If it gets infected, see a doctor and have them examine it. Antibacterial lotion should be enough to quell it.
The most likely negative consequence of a snake bite will be a knock to your confidence. Snakes sit among stars as mythological creatures of ancient lore. As such, they tap into our oldest, most instinctual, primeval fears. They also carry a stigma, encouraged by works as various as the Bible and Jungle Book, and are believed to be cunning, lithe and diabolic.
Because of all this, your initial reaction to a harmless, frightened nip could be an instinctual disengagement from the scheme of husbandry. But it’s important that you don’t worry about this. Snake bites are part and parcel of snake husbandry. Even experience handlers are bitten occasionally.
Mistakes happen in a hobby such as this. Don’t take it to heart. If it feels compromised or threatened, a snake’s only legitimate defense is to use its mouth. (The alternative is to secrete a gross musk, foulest foul; I might take my odds with the bite, you know)
Moreover, and very importantly, do not retaliate. Snakes do not understand punishment in the way that other domesticated animals do. It will not feel remorse if you shout at it, much less if you slap it on the wrist. In fact, it will be more likely to act hostilely to you in the future, and your relationship will take time to rebuild.
Cage and Tank Setup
A suitable enclosure is a glass aquarium with a 20-30 gallon capacity. This is appropriate for an adult. For adult snakes, the bigger the enclosure, the happier the snake—within reason. For example, a 4 foot kingsnake may feel claustrophobic in a tank of only 20 gallons.
It is also worth noting that these snakes are proficient climbers. For this reason, it would be wise to provide an enclosure with sufficient height for the snake to climb any objects and burrow under substrate.
What if I have babies?
The same does not go for younglings. If you find yourself with hatchlings, or a juvenile Mexican black kingsnake, it is easy to fall into the trap of providing too much space. Keep a hatchling in a much smaller enclosure—under 10 gallons. Give it a nice, cozy home until it is big enough to deal with the wide world. Anything too large can be counterproductive.
Breeders often use shoeboxes, or something similar, for the first few weeks. These provide the snake with a world it can get to grips with. It is not intimidating or scary, which is important for a developing snake.
Substrate: the material lining the bottom of the enclosure
Hatchlings and juveniles can be kept on a variety of substances: artificial turf, newspaper and paper towel are common, as they allow for the easy monitoring of fecal output.
For adult Mexican black snakes, the most popular substrate is Aspen—incidentally, this is also Utah’s state symbol! There are other alternatives, such as sand or dirt, but do not use cedar or pine. These are thought to be toxic. The aromatic oils contained within these woods irritate kingsnakes, and can even lead to respiratory issues. Snakes are impressive in many respects, and powerful too, but they are also delicate, and require specific conditions in order to reach longevity.
Another good alternative is nuggets of coconut husk. These are good for humidity control and do not smell bad. The snake can easily burrow underneath the surface, and as a raw material it’s certainly affordable.
What about adding other textures to the substrate?
In order to satisfy the Mexican black kingsnake’s habitual desire to burrow and explore its habitat, feel free to add textures such as straw, hay or dried leaves. These, along with new and novel scents, will enrich its living experience and improve its wellbeing immeasurably. Think of it as an equivalent to you enjoying a relaxing evening, on a sofa or in the bath, with a scented candle. Look after your snake how you look after yourself.
Try out a variety of options, and see which you and the snake prefer. Some materials require more or less maintenance—cleaning and suchlike. Whatever you decide to use as a substrate, check it over potentially toxic elements, bacteria or infestations.
How often should I clean out the tank?
Effective sanitation is important, so it’s best to do a full clean of the enclosure monthly. While you’re at it, replace all of your chosen substrate. Likewise, disinfect the enclosure every month, or even more frequently. Remove the snake and place it in a temporary holding enclosure (if you have one). Use an effective cleaning solution and follow the instructions it comes with. Wipe down everything that can be sprayed.
Certain situations call for a spot clean. For example:
- Regurgitations can be toxic if left for too long, so it is particularly important to clean the tank out after an incident like that. They are usually localized, so if you have replaced all the substrate recently, a spot clean will do.
- Spilled water should be cleaned up, especially if you are using Aspen as your substrate. Some materials are prone to rot or becoming unpleasant, so target wet areas daily.
- Likewise, defecation should be cleaned on a daily basis, because it can fester and smell unpleasant, which makes it a less pleasant environment for the snake to live in.
Bacterial infections can result if fecal matter is left to hang around too long, so make sure you dispose of that on a regular basis. You should also provide fresh water daily.
However, if you have a particularly clean animal, it might not require totally new substrate every month. When you replace this bottom layer, have a temporary holding tub ready, so that you don’t have to juggle snake management with cleaning its enclosure.
What about temperature and temperature management?
During winter, wild colubrids tend to minimize their activity. They don’t hibernate exactly, but they move and eat very little. This period of slowed metabolism is called brumation. Owing to their artificial living quarters and the inevitable differences that incurs, captives often bypass this period of brumation. They can stay active the whole year round. But studies show that brumation, when induced in captivity, is preferred by the snakes themselves.
Either way, Mexican black kingsnakes do not tend to brumate in the wild, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it. Inducing brumation is recommended if you wish two snakes to breed, and I will get onto that later. But for now, as long as your snake is happy to remain active during the winter months, (provided it is warm enough) you can bypass brumation.
The Mexican black kingsnake likes fairly warm climates—typically 79-84° F (26-29° C) during the daytime and 70-75° F (21-24° C) at night. This is easily achieved, provided you have the right equipment.
Ways to heat up the enclosure
Recommended paraphernalia include the following:
- A heat pad is the most common method of temperature regulation. It is simply a heated mat, or pad, which sits underneath one part of the enclosure. Typically, heat pads have a gauge which allows for temperature control. They’re pretty neat, and very useful—easy to move around, easy to adjust.
- Heat tape is different because it comes in a single long roll of plastic. You can stack these up to create a large wave of heat—especially useful if you plan on breeding and have several snakes in one room.
- Another option is a ceramic heat bulb. These are much like light bulbs, except they only emit heat. Or, you could use a regular filament bulb, which doubles up as a light emitter. The disadvantage with these is that it is difficult to regulate the temperature effectively.
- To create a cooler space, you can place a hide in the enclosure. This serves as a literal hideaway for the snake, where it can conceal itself from the outside world. It provides shade and a cooler microclimate. If you have two, place one at each end of the enclosure.
- If you place damp paper towels inside the hide, the snake will sit on this and it will expedite shedding. This is called a moist hide.
- A thermostat is essential, and ideally three thermometers. Why? Because snakes require a cooler side and a hotter end. There is a delicate balance. Snakes are cold-blooded, so they can’t regulate their own body temperature. This is why the temperature needs to be regulated externally.
Where should you place your thermometers?
One should be placed at the warm end, just above the substrate, nearby your heat lamp, pad or mat; another, opposite, at the cooler end of the tank; and finally, a third in the snake’s basking site, to give a reading of the middle ground. This arrangement allows you to track the temperature gradations, and gives the snake, much like Goldilocks, a happy medium at all times.
Snakes need temperature variations because:
Mexican black kingsnakes like an ambient temperature of 75-80°F and a basking temperature of 88-90°C. This is almost certainly a lot warmer than the temperature of your living room, so you’ll need a heat lamp. If the snake is too cold, it will have trouble digesting food, and might regurgitate it before they’ve had time to get essential nutrients out of it.
If the temperature is too high, bacteria will run riot in the enclosure. These bacteria can cause mouth and scale rot—more on those under Common Health Issues below.
You don’t have to worry about a heating rock, as these snakes will often neglect to remove themselves from an overly hot surface. This can cause burns, which it’s best to avoid!
What about humidity?
Humidity is as important to get right as temperature. If the humidity in the enclosure is too high, this can lead to pulmonary (respiratory) infections, or even death. Conversely, a lack of humidity will make it more difficult for the snake to shed. Its skin will come off in flakes, rather than in one go. This is stressful, and can cause sepsis if it isn’t seen to.
For this purpose, a hygrometer (humidity detector) is highly recommended, as it is instrumental when determining the perfect conditions for the snake’s environment. Hygrometers are affordable, effective, and essential.
Humidity is best kept at 40-60%. 50% is your safest bet. In order to maintain suitable humidity, you can:
- Use an automatic mister or fogger—this is much like a manual spray bottle, but dispenses its mist/fog automatically.
- Place a large water bowl within the enclosure—this will slowly evaporate, providing the air with humidity. If humidity rises too high, remove the water bowl and replace it with a smaller one; if it falls too low, put in a bigger bowl. This water bowl is useful for another reason too: snakes need to increase the level of moisture in their skin shortly before shedding, so providing a water bowl will allow them a way to regulate that themselves.
- Spray the inside of the tank with a simple spray bottle. This is a quick, easy and effective way to increase humidity.
- Place the cage in a room that is humid anyway, like a washing room or laundry room.
Tip: a heavy, ceramic bowl is less likely to tip over under the weight of the snake. Aspen bedding can be unpleasant to work with when it gets wet, so if you are using aspen, a heavy water bowl is recommended!
Lighting need not take as much regulation as humidity and temperature. Most snakes do not need a great deal of light. As long as there is a window in the room in which they are kept, this will probably suffice.
If any of the following applies to you, however, you may require artificial lights:
- Your snake’s enclosure is in a room without natural light (a window or skylight);
- You reside in the far north or south of the world, i.e. somewhere with extremely long or extremely short days;
- Your snake’s enclosure is made of wood—naturally, transparent walls let in more light than opaque ones.
Given that fact that you are already maintaining their enclosure at a consistent temperature, sunlight is the only thing a snake can read to determine the season.
To create light in an enclosure, use any of the following:
- A basking lamp—this is ideal because it also produces heat;
- A basic light bulb—make sure the snake can’t actually touch this, because filament bulbs get very hot, and are fragile.
If you plan on using UVA light bulbs, then it’s essential to integrate a daytime-nighttime light cycle. Otherwise, your snake might suffer serious shocks to its system. Remember, they are diurnal, which means they like to operate during the daytime..
And finally, you said it likes climbing and burrowing… How should I facilitate that?
Accessories! Yes, it is recommended to give the snake something on which to climb. This could simply be some short branches from the garden, positioned in such a way as to provide a sort of makeshift climbing frame.
In addition to this, place foliage, artificial or natural, in the cage. Remember, Mexican black kingsnakes are keen burrowers and like to play hide and seek. If you have enough space, experiment on this theme: you can use PVC piping, flower pots and bits of log. Rocks provide textural variation, and if they are large enough they can be utilized by snakes as basking areas.
Food & Diet
In the wild:
Mexican black kingsnakes frequently eat other snakes, including rattlesnakes—they are ophiophagic, which is a useful word to know when talking about snakes. A lot of them are ophiophagic.
Kingsnakes are constrictors, and the Mexican black kingsnake is no exception. It squeezes its prey using its strong and powerful body, thereby asphyxiating it to death. It will constrict until it induces a cardiac arrest, or suffocation.
As a result of eating so many rattlesnakes, Mexican black kingsnakes have developed a resistance to its venom. Many believe it is completely immune, but this is a common misconception.
Like many other constrictors, the Mexican black kingsnake relies heavily on its eyesight to hunt for prey. For this reason, it mainly hunts in daylight. Its visual acuity is very good. Besides other snakes, the Mexican black kingsnake feasts on a diet of lizards, rodents, birds and birds’ eggs. It is not a fussy eater in the wild, and nor is it in captivity.
These opportunists will frequently hide out in the burrows of other animals waiting for a hearty lunch to deliver itself. They are opportunistic and will usually wait for prey to come to them, rather than go looking for it themselves. Obviously, that takes too much energy. They are also good climbers and able swimmers.
Mexican black kingsnakes can be sustained healthily on an exclusive rodent diet—i.e., mice and rats. However, variety is the spice of life. Feeder anoles are a good alternative, as are chicks. These snakes are not picky, when it comes to their next meal. They will most likely eat most of what you put in front of them, as long as it once breathed (or one day will).
You can feed live or dead rodents to a Mexican black kingsnake, but be aware of their comparative sizes. Juveniles are very small and vulnerable, whereas adult kingsnakes are much larger and more able to kill without sustaining any injuries. Even a mouse will put up a fight. Putting a live rodent in with a juvenile could pose a major risk.
Just rodents, and that’s it? No supplements?
As they digest the entire animal, these snakes do not require additional supplements. Not many other animals do that! Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from snakes.
Most pet shops that stock snakes will also stock frozen mice, which can be thawed out and fed to snakes. This makes feeding remarkably easy. Make sure that you prepare the mice in a sterilized place, somewhere where you don’t prepare other food. You don’t want any cross-contamination.
Hatchlings, juveniles and adults—feeding schedule and meal plan
First, a quick breakdown of the terminology when talking about food.
Hatchlings are fresh out of the egg, and are called hatchlings until their first feed. A snake is juvenile until it reaches full size, or adulthood. An adult has reached its full length and capacity for growth.
Pinky mice (or ‘pinkies’) are the smallest, and youngest, of the feeder mice. They are less than 5 days old and lack fur. For this reason they are pink in color, hence their name. Fuzzy mice (or ‘fuzzies’) are 5-14 days old. They still haven’t opened their eyes, but are slowly developing a coat. Hoppers are 2-3 weeks old; weanlings are a month old; a mouse over a month old is considered an adult, but they come in various sizes.
As a rule, you can substitute pinkies for adults or fuzzies at the ratio 2:1. Rodents can usually be bought in bulk, frozen, from pet stores.
So what should I feed the snake at each stage of growth?
- Hatchlings: For the first week, a Mexican black kingsnake does not require feeding.
- 7-10 days: During this period, give your snake 1 pinky. If you have only a relatively large pinky, or a particularly small snake, cut the pinky in half.
- Up to 2 months: For the first 2 months after it has started feeding, give your snake 1 pinky, 2-4 times per week—almost every other day.
- 2-4 months: This is when you move onto fuzzies. During this 2 month period, give your snake 1 fuzzy, 2-4 times per week.
- 4-12 months (1 year): Up until it is 1 year old, feed your snake 1-2 fuzzies, twice per week.
- Past 1 year: Now you can move onto adult mice. Feed your snake 1 large mouse every 10-14 days, or as required.
Keep an eye on when your snake defecates, as this is a good indicator of when it next needs to eat. Wait two days, then offer it a mouse.
Common Health Issues
Mexican black kingsnakes are hardy, but even the hardiest among us comes down with something sometimes.
The most frequently occurring diseases among Mexican black kingsnakes are necrotizing dermatitis (otherwise known, slightly less delicately, as ‘scale rot’), stomatitis (‘mouth rot’), pneumonia and ecroparasites (‘snake mites’). Mites can be killed using mite spray. If any ailments persist, seek help from a professional.
These ailments are avoidable, however, provided you habituate yourself to proper husbandry practices. Look after your snake and it will be able to look after itself. Unsanitary conditions or unsuitably high/low temperatures are easy to avoid if you have the right equipment for the job. The same goes for light and humidity.
As long as you follow the steps outlined above regarding proper maintenance – heat lamp, under-tank heater, proper lighting, clean water, and the removal of fecal matter – your snake should live a long and healthy life.
How safe are they in the wild?
In terms of endangerment, the umbrella species common kingsnake is listed on the U.S. Federal list as a “species of concern”. The Mexican black kingsnake, however, is yet to be assessed as an individual subspecies.
Mexican black kingsnakes are egg-layers, or oviparous. As long as prey is available, females will produce up to 24 eggs annually, somewhere between 40 and 65 days following copulation.
The eggs incubate with parental care for up to two months. Hatchlings measure in the region of 7 inches and must fend for themselves immediately. Without parental guidance, they are forced to grow up quickly—this is the case among most snakes. Skin-shedding occurs about a week from birth, and two to three years later that hatchling is a fully mature kingsnake!
In captive environments, baby season is autumn and early winter. This is the time to be on the lookout if you’re trying to get your hands on a Mexican black kingsnake. During the rest of the year, it may be very difficult to find a youngling or juvenile, but there may be adults available for purchase.
What if I want to breed them myself?
If you are aiming to breed Mexican black kingsnakes yourself, here’s what you need to know…
Your snake must be of sufficient maturity and health before you even think about reproduction. If you have a female, it should be 300g minimum, and at least 3.5 ft long. It will likely reach this weight and size at around the 3 year mark. Then, you can plan your breeding.
- First, ensure that the snake has defecated recently, and has not eaten for two or three weeks. This means that, in theory, it’s ready.
- Then, induce brumation. This period, often lasting three to four months, is a kingsnake’s natural, semi-hibernatory, pre-breeding winter, during which it moves and eats very little. Temperatures in its natural habitats get surprisingly chilly during the winter months. To simulate this environment, gradually lower the tank’s temperature to between 45° and 55°F (7-13°C).
- During brumation, make sure there is a supply of fresh water and ventilation. When brumation is complete, slowly raise the air temperature back up. Offer food until the snake eats and sheds its skin. After her first molt, the female is ready. If she is healthy, her ovulation will be coupled with the release of powerful pheromones which attract the male.
- Place the male in her enclosure. Keep an eye on them because, in a word, they might eat each other.
- If everything goes according to plan, the female will lay her clutch (eggs) around two months later. Keep checking on her to ensure that she doesn’t late her eggs in her water bowl. You can be extra careful by only offering water under supervision.
- Incubation and hatching should be relatively straightforward, as long as you follow the established practices: remove the eggs from the enclosure without tipping them; mark each on its tip and put them in a shoebox (or similar) filled with moist vermiculite; incubate them at a consistent 80°F.
- Two months later, you should have your very own brood of nippers!
Final thoughts on the Mexican black kingsnake
Mexican black kingsnakes are well established in the pet industry as one of the most popular pet snakes. And it’s not hard to see why: they are tractable, easy to care for, relatively risk free, and they possess a mysterious, compelling beauty.
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