Keeping snakes as pets has become more and more popular over the years. However, there are some snake species that are more popular as pets than others. One of these is the Albino California Kingsnake.
The Albino California kingsnake is scientifically known as Lampropeltis getulacaliforniae. It belongs to a species of snakes called colubrids which are non-venomous but kill their prey by constriction. Kingsnakes naturally occur in the western United States and northern Mexico. They are loved as pets since they don’t demand a lot of care and maintenance.
California kingsnakes exist in various coat colors. However, this article will mainly focus on the albino ones. Keeping an albino California kingsnake as a pet can be challenging if you don’t know what you need to do. With the information contained here, you will have everything you need to know before getting yourself an albino kingsnake.
Albino California Kingsnake Genetics
All snakes have genes that are responsible for their appearance. Genes are inherited from parent to offspring, and the albino gene is no exception. Each gene contains 2 alleles one from the male parent and one from the female.
The albino gene is recessive, which means it can only be expressed in the snake if both parents have it. 2 genes are responsible for albinism: Albino T+ and Albino T-.
Albino T+ causes albinism by making it impossible for the kingsnake to convert amino acids to melanin. This is usually done by the enzyme Tyrosinase. This results in the snake having a light base color, no dark markings, and normal-colored eyes.
T+ Albinos produce a very small amount of melanin and are not regarded as albinos by some people. When they are young they look like hypomelanistic snakes. These are snakes that produce melanin but in very small amounts.
Albino T- causes albinism by completely repressing the production of the enzyme Tyrosinase, making the snake lack melanin. This usually results in a snake with very light-colored markings and pink eyes.
How Much is an Albino California Kingsnake?
The price of an albino kingsnake depends on its morph, age, gender, base color, and markings among other factors.
A baby albino California kingsnake can be sold for anywhere between $50 and $200 depending on the breeder and the snake’s appearance. Since the albino kingsnake is usually bred under a controlled environment, I would advise you to get yours from a breeder rather than a pet store.
Before you buy the animal, ensure you have seen it and taken a good look at it. Although you may not handle it the first time you meet, check for parasites, scars, or any remaining unshed skin. You should also check its weight, breathing, and any signs of deformity.
You should also ask your seller to provide you with all relevant information about the kingsnake such as its genetic info, its last shedding date, age, and temperament.
Although it might sound like a great way to cut costs, you should not capture a wild albino king snake and try to tame it. This will only increase the care level required and make your life difficult. A wild snake will have a high temperament and it might come with diseases, mites, and internal parasites.
The maintenance costs for an albino kingsnake are not as high since it has an intermediate care level.
What Do Baby Albino California Kingsnakes Look Like?
A female albino California king snake lays 6 to 15 eggs which hatch around 10 weeks after being laid. Their appearance will depend on the morph it is. However, the T- California kingsnake is usually pink or lavender but this color becomes whiter as the snake gets older.
A T+ albino kingsnake hatchling also takes the lavender shade as a juvenile. With time, it picks up a light-colored tan color.
A young albino kingsnake can be easily mistaken for a blue-eyed blond snake. One way to tell them apart is by their eyes. The blue-eyed blond has dark-colored eyes.
Albino California Kingsnake Facts
Here are a few condensed facts about albino California kingsnakes:
- An adult kingsnake is usually about 4 feet long. They can grow up to 6 feet long but this is uncommon when they are bred in captivity.
- They are friendly and thrive in captivity, so a first time snake owner will not have a hard time taking care of it.
- All California king snakes possess cannibalistic tendencies. If they are kept in the same enclosure with your other snakes (including other kingsnakes), then the chances of it constricting, killing, and eating them are high. You should only put a kingsnake together with other snakes when it is time for mating.
- If given proper care, a kingsnake can live for 15 to 20 years.
- A kingsnake’s diet consists of rodents, small mammals, birds, and eggs.
- They are immune to rattlesnake venom.
Kingsnakes face the risk of getting colds and pneumonia. This is usually due to low temperatures in the enclosure. If your snake wheezes when it breathes, you should see a vet.
There is also the risk of mouth rot, which causes a cheesy substance to form around the snake’s mouth. You should go to the vet as soon as you notice this too.
Handling an albino California Kingsnake
Just like other kingsnakes, the Albino Cali king is very docile. You should handle your snake around 3 times a week. When picking it up, ensure your hands are completely clean and don’t smell like food since it will learn to associate you with food, and you don’t want that. Also, do not pick it up from above since the snake will associate you with being a predator and it might get aggressive.
You shouldn’t handle your snake during its shedding period and a few days after. Shedding is usually an uncomfortable period for the snake. Do not handle your pet a while before, during, and a few hours after feeding. It can get defensive and regurgitate the rodent.
Albino California Kingsnakes Breeding
The gene that causes albinism is recessive, so you need both parents to carry it to produce an albino looking kingsnake. They are mostly bred in captivity since they would not survive in the wild for long.
A snake can be a normal-looking non-carrier, a normal-looking carrier, or a visual carrier. By breeding snakes with this gene types, the chances of getting an albino California king snake are:
- If you breed a visually albino king snake to a normal looking non-carrier, 100% of the offspring will be normal looking carriers since the normal-looking gene is more dominant.
- When you breed a normal-looking carrier with a visual carrier, there is a 50% chance that the offspring will be a normal-looking carrier and a 50 % chance that it will be an albino kingsnake.
- When two normal-looking carriers are bred, the chances of getting an albino snake is only 25%. If the offspring is normal-looking, then there is a 50% chance that it is a carrier of the albino gene.
- When you breed a normal-looking carrier with a normal-looking non-carrier, you are 0% likely to get an albino offspring. However, there is a 50% chance that the offspring is a non-visual carrier.
The only way to tell if a snake carries the gene that causes albinism is by test breeding it with a visual carrier.
You should also note that the T+ and the T- are two completely different and incompatible genes. Breeding the two together will not result in an albino offspring but one that is a carrier of the genes.
Albino California Kingsnake Eyes
The albino kingsnake’s eye color will vary depending on the albino gene that they have present. The albino T- gene will let the snake have pink-colored eyes which will retain this color even as they become adults.
T+ albino kingsnakes have ruby red eyes which also maintain their color throughout the snake’s lifespan.
Albino snakes have pink or red eyes due to the lack of pigment on the sclera (eye whites). This makes it so that the blood vessels behind the eye are visible. In some cases, though, the sclera is more opaque, which results in the snake having bluish or gray eyes.
Melanin is also important when it comes to focusing images in the eye. The lack of melanin pigment makes it hard for the snake to see well, especially under the sun. This causes all animals with albinism (California kingsnakes included) to suffer from poor vision and sometimes blindness.
Albino California Kingsnake Morphs
Breeding your albino California Kingsnake with other California kingsnakes will create morphs. One of the reasons why king snakes are preferred is because they occur in many attractive coats. Here are some of the most popular morphs you can get from an albino kingsnake:
This morph is sometimes referred to as the arctic or the snow California kingsnake. It came to life as a result of breeding the albino king snake with the Whitter hypermelanistic morph. The result is a snake that is pink when hatched and it gets lighter and takes up a light lavender color as it becomes an adult. The yellow markings on its body also start to develop with age.
This morph was first identified in 2008 by a snake breeder in France. He paired a blizzard kingsnake with a chocolate kingsnake. This resulted in the offspring that displays traits from both parents and orange pupils. The snake has a pinkish base color with hints of brown with a hypermelanistic pattern which might have hints of yellow as it matures.
Casper Ghost California Kingsnake
This snake is also known as the iridescent California Kingsnake. It is a product of breeding a Palomar (ghost) kingsnake with an albino kingsnake. This results in an offspring that shows both traits. The Palomar ghost has a lavender base color with tan markings. The Casper ghost inherits the lavender base color with lavender-colored markings. It maintains the vibrant red eyes that albino kingsnakes possess.