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King Snakes vs Corn Snakes

All snake species have pros and cons when it comes to keeping them in captivity. Some are easier to keep than others due to size, diet and temperament. In general temperate rodent eating colubrids are the easiest snakes to keep. Common King Snakes and Corn Snakes are recommend as beginner snakes. In this article I will give the pros and cons of each species. Note that the Common Kings snake is broken up into several subspecies The most commonly seen sub species in South Africa are the Californian King Snake, Florida King Snake and Mexican Black King snake.


Corn Snakes reach a reported maximum length of 1.8m.  A more realistic maximum size is 1.5m with most Corn Snakes reaching about 1.2-1.4m. Both Californian King Snakes and Mexican Black King Snakes reach a similar size but can get bigger. Florida King Snakes are a larger species that could easily approach 2m in length. These snakes are a perfect size for pets. The Florida King Snake may get to big to make a good pet for a child or someone who is not confident handling snakes.

Housing and Heating

The type of cage, substrate, heating and lighting is identical in Corn Snakes and King Snakes. Florida King Snakes may require a larger cage.


Corn Snakes are usually very docile and easy to handle. King Snakes on the other hand can have attitude problems, mainly due to the fact that they are very eager and aggressive feeders. This can cause problems when feeding as they will strike at anything that moves including themselves and if you are not careful your finger will end up in your King snakes mouth. If you want a snake that you can handle a lot, choose a Corn Snake. If you want a snake with character choose a King Snake.


Both snakes will eat pre-killed rodents their whole lives. Hatchling Corn Snakes can be difficult to feed due to their small size and even a pinkie can be too big for them to swallow. Common King Snake hatchlings are large and can swallow a pinkie without any problems. Adult Corn Snakes do not usually present problems with regards to feeding.

Breeding and Colour Morphs

Both species are easy to breed. As mentioned above hatchling King snakes are better feeders. There are more colour morphs of Corn Snake than Common King snakes. Californian King Snakes come in several selective bred colour morphs and various naturally occurring pattern and colour varieties. There are a couple of captive bred colour morphs of Florida King Snakes. The natural all black colouration of the Mexican Black King snake is very beautiful and is far betting looking than a Silver Corn Snake.


Corn Snakes make very good pets and are virtually domesticated. Common King Snakes are more suited to people who have kept snakes before.