Learn about Colubrids

Colubrid Kings specializes in the snakes within the colubrid family. We are specifically passionate about working with Kingsnakes, Milksnakes, Corn Snakes, Rat Snakes, Imperials, and Texas Indigos. Colubrids are any member of the most common family of snakes, Colubridae, characterized by the complete absence of hind limbs, the absence or considerable reduction of the left lung, and the lack of teeth on the premaxilla and usually having a loose facial structure, relatively few head scales, and ventral scales as wide as the body.  Most have solid and conical teeth; some have grooved teeth at the rear of the upper jaw and produce a venom that induces paralysis. A few have short, erect fangs in the front half of the mouth. For most of the venomous colubrid species, a bite unaccompanied by chewing is rarely harmful to humans. In a few species with fangs, a single bite can be dangerous and possibly fatal. Colubrids lay eggs, but some (especially the aquatic forms) are live-bearing. Colubrids occur in virtually all habitats.Scientifically also known as Serpentes, colubrids are rear-fanged or opisthoglyphous, meaning their fangs are grooved rather than hollow and are placed in the back of their upper jaws. Species of colubrids in the past were not closely related or considered as a natural group. Prior to serpentology studies, research in molecular phylogenetics, and evolution, they were known as Colubroids because they were not related to other groups, e.g. elapids. However, recent studies and research in molecular phylogenetics and evolution have classified the previously known colubrids and the snake family as a monophyletic clade. Colubridae currently has eight subfamilies. The Sibynophiinae subfamily, Pseudoxenodontinae subfamily and Grayiinae subfamily are the ones with the smallest groups (one to two genera), whereas the Colubrinae subfamily, Dispadinae subfamily and Natricinae subfamily have the largest groups (37-100 genera). Colubrid snake distribution occurs worldwide from  Africa, Asia, Central America, Eurasia, Europe, North America, Oceania, South America to the central regions of Australia. Colubridae snakes are found in every continent except Antarctica.


Certain colubrids are venomous, but others are not. They vary greatly in life span and size, depending on the species. Some colubrids are small insectivores (insect-eaters), while others are large constrictor snakes. Several colubrids, such as the rat snake, corn snake, African house snake and king snake, make wonderful pets when cared for properly.


Typical appearance and behavior

These snakes will reach adult size in two to three years, depending on the species and if cared for under ideal conditions

Most species have teeth at the back of their upper jaw, and some also have fangs in the front of their mouths

Snakes have no external ears (just inner ears that look like small holes on the sides of their heads) and no eyelids

As snakes get ready to shed, their eyes turn a milky blue/gray color over the course of a few days, and their skin color will start to dull and develop a whitish sheen. They also may become irritable, so avoid handling if possible

Snakes will shed skin as well as the surfaces of the corneas of their eyes (spectacles, or eye caps)


The care difficultly is intermediate. The average life span is up to 15 years with proper care, depending on species. The average adult size 1-6 feet long, depending on species. Their diet is that of a  carnivore. The appropriate size and shape habitat for an adult colubrid varies depending on the size of the species. The habitat should be large enough to accommodate normal behavior and exercise, at least a 20-gallon long tank for a hatchling to a 40-gallon long breeder tank for an adult. All tanks should have a securely fitting screen top to promote ventilation and prevent escape.


Snakes regularly shed their skin; unlike other reptiles who shed skin in pieces, healthy snakes should shed their skin all in one piece. Ensure humidity of habitat is at appropriate level to allow snake to shed properly. If your snake is shedding in pieces, the humidity may be too low. Increase habitat humidity by misting with water and encourage daily soaking.