Scarlet king snake will not eat!

I have a scarlet king snake and would love input on how to take better care of him. He was eating mice but went on a hunger strike and I bought him anoles. He won’t eat them either. What can I do to get him eating again? I spoke to his previous human and he said that the snake had done the same to him and went for 5 months! I am not really wanting to let him go that long. I live near the coast in Washington state, so the climate here is cool year round and I keep my house at about 60 degrees in winter. I put a ceramic heater on my snake and a UBV light (I know he doesn’t really need it but it makes me feel better). He has deep aspen shavings to burrow in and always full large water dish. He is a sweet snake and very friendly the guy said that he was 5 years old. His name is Zale, he looks like fine jewelry.

I’m no expert, as I have never kept scarlet kings, but I sure do love them! My opinion, though, is that these snakes are fossorial in nature, which is a bummer because they’re so pretty to look at. My suggestion is based on how frequently they are shown to be discovered under cover. Tree bark, rocks, etc. It’s not a snake people find rummaging about, like a garter snake or a racer.

That being said, you may need more appropriate cover/hiding spots. Less lighting. Certainly not UVB. Nighttime feedings.

You may not get the joy of watching this kind of snake eat, basically. They are shy by all counts I’ve seen them depicted. I live in Pennsylvania, so my knowledge is limited to videos and good books. Humidity and temperature will be very important in success with scarlet kings, and if it were easy, I think they would be far more popular to keep than California kings and even corn snakes.

I wish you the best of luck, I have loved this species ever since I saw them in Peterson’s field guide when I was a little kid. It’s just daunting to think it’s a kingsnake, but is so much more difficult to work with than other kings. I hope someone cracks the code to easy keeping with these guys, I still hope to get some for myself!

What kind of setup do you have? Do you have pics of the tank/tub? I have a black kingsnake and he won’t eat if he’s not allowed to go into one of several hiding places to do so. He loves to “ambush” his food as well. If he’s out in the open he really won’t eat.

Also not sure on the species and timing… But it could be the time of the year for love to be in the air. Could just be dude is more interested in a lady than food.

I have a 40 gal breeder with a screen top. It has 4 inches every where of aspen shavings and he does burrow alot. I have a large humidity box and four hides that I gave him, the water takes about 3 1/2 cups to fill and he drinks from it quite alot. I mist him daily , the whole tank. Our relative humidity here is 60+ percent anyway. But he seems to enjoy being misted. He used to eat right in front of me. He isn’t shy at all, He comes out frequently every evening and morning, to say hello. There are fake plants and vines around his hides so he sometimes hides in them too,

I don’t know the breeding cycle for Scarlet King Snake. It could be he is so inclined. But there are very few of his kind here on the west coast. Which is why I am looking for more information than what I can get with Wikipedia.

What are the temperatures in your enclosure? And are you using a thermostat and reliable humidity gauge?

It is 84 farinheit on the warm side and 72 on the cooler side. I have humidity reading for my house, not his tank, thats why I mist him daily. I take his tank temps with a infrared thermometer.

Do you turn the light/heat off during the night? They need temperature drops in order to keep a proper cycle. They also don’t need UVB or lights outside of what is ambient from a room. The humidity for them doesn’t need to be much over 65-70%. But you can’t be sure of the humidity or if it is ok in the enclosure given you don’t have a quality digital gauge in with him. You also can’t measure ambient temps in the tank without a thermostat to control the CHE, you can only know the temps on surfaces. That said, scarlet king snakes are said to be specialist feeders on lizards and snakes. They apparently don’t eat mice in the wild much, which means a diet of something that fatty could cause health issues. I recommend getting some reptilinks of the proper diet for him, as well as some frozen thawed lizards. Is this animal wild caught? Even if it isn’t, they benefit from being burmated in the colder months, which means you keep it cool in the room and don’t heat the tank at all and don’t feed them. It wouldn’t hurt to get some tests for parasites done as well just to be sure he doesn’t have any.

I will try tuning the heat off at night. the light always goes off . Thank you for the suggestion. I do not know if it was wild caught or captive bred. I was told that he was five years old and had always eaten mice. I did get him three anoles that he now shares his home with. I keep counting three every morning though they are hard to see. he ate mice quite happily when I got him and until the end of March. this year.

HE ATE! He ate three fuzzies yesterday and 2 fuzzies today. I am so glad and relieved! I also threatened him with force feeding! Thank you all for the suggestions and tips. He was my first snake and I want to do it all right for him. I since have got an albino CA king and an albino Nelson’s milk snake. They are very easy even though neither one likes to let me see them eat. Zale has never cared how many people watched him eat. I am also thinking about brumating him this winter.
Any tips on temp. for that. It doest always freeze here or get very cool for very long.


YAY! always good news when they start eating again!

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For burmating him you need to have him off of feed for 2 weeks prior to doing so, to make sure he has no food left in his system. Then you need to turn the heat off in the enclosure and let it get down into the low 65-70°F. No lower than 55°F. The only thing he needs to be given is water. You can do this for a month or two. Make sure not to handle him much during this or you will heat him up.