King snake

King snake

By: Johan

king snake

King snake classification
The scientific name for the Common King snake is Lampropeltis getula. There exists several different subspecies of Common King snake, including Arizona Desert King snake (Lampropeltis getula splendida), Black King snake of Mexico (Lampropeltis getula nigrita), California King snake (Lampropeltis getula californiae) and Yuma King snake (Lampropeltis getula yumensis).

The Common king snake and the various subspecies should not be confused with the Mexican King snake (Lompropeltis mexicana) or the Mountain King snake (Lompropeltis zonata). They are related to Lampropeltis getula and all three species belong to the same genus, but they are distinct, separate species of snake.

King snake range and habitat
The King snake is native to warm parts of the North American continent. It is found in forests and woodlands as well as in grasslands, and it appreciates swampy marshes as well as chaparral and desert habitats. It inhabits the Sonoran, Mojave and Chihuahuan deserts, and its habitat proceeds south into Baja and Mexico. Its range stretches from sea level up to an altitude of 7000 feet.

King snake diet
The King snake derives its name from the fact that it can overpower and devour other snakes, even poisonous ones like Rattlesnakes and Copperheads. In addition to snakes, it hunts other cold blooded animals like lizards, turtles and frogs as well as small mammals and birds. Given the opportunity, it will happily consume eggs.

The King snake typically hunts during the morning and late afternoon, but if the weather becomes really hot it can switch to nocturnal hunting. It will use its sense of smell to locate prey. When a suitable prey has been detected, the King snake will bite and surround the animal with suffocating coils. Its hunting technique resembles that of the Boa Constrictor and does not require venom.

The King snake is frequently bitten by poisonous snakes, but it is immune the venom and can simply wait for the prey to become exhausted by the suffocating coils. King snakes are known to swallow their prey while the animal is still alive.       

King snake bite
Since the King snake overcomes its prey by suffocating it, it doesn’t need any potent venom. It is therefore not dangerous to humans. It belongs to the same family as several other harmless snakes, like the Garter snakes, Whip snakes and Gopher snakes. The name of this family is Colubridae.

When a King snake feels threatened, it will display warning signals consisting of hisses and strikes. It will also vibrate its tail. If the attack proceeds the King snake will roll into a ball and keep its head protected in the centre while it smears the aggressor with faeces and musk.

King snake description
The Common King snakes comes in a broad collection of colours and patterns. Two of the most common colours are chocolate brown and black. These snakes often display alternating black and white bands, but the bands can also be pale yellow, cream, or brown depending on geographical location. Some King snakes display a colouration that is almost solid black, while others have black bellies. An adult King snake will usually be between 30 and 85 inches long.

King snake articles:

California king snake


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