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Eastern Kingsnake

NON-VENOMOUS

Snake

Snake

Scientific name: Lampropeltis getula getula (LINNAEUS 1766)

* Currently accepted name

Synonym:

* scientific names used through time

  • Coluber getulus – LINNAEUS 1766
  • Ophibolus getulus – BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
  • Coronella getulus – DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854
  • Triaeniopholis arenarius – WERNER 1924
  • Lampropeltis getulus sticticeps – BARBOUR & ENGELS 1942 in BLANEY 1977
  • Lampropeltis getulus goini – NEILL & ALLEN 1949 in BLANEY 1977
  • Lampropeltis getula – FROST & COLLINS 1988
  • Lampropeltis getula getula – KRYSKO & JUDD 2006
  • Lampropeltis getula goini – KRYSKO & JUDD 2006
  • Lampropeltis getula sticticeps – KRYSKO & JUDD 2006

Description Average adult size is 36-48 inches (91.4-121.9 cm), record is 82 inches (208.2 cm). Adults are solid black to chocolate brown, with 19-32 white to yellowish and narrow (1.5-2.5 dorsal scale rows) dorsal crossbands and a lateral chain-like pattern. The belly may have a checkerboard or solid black pattern. The scales are smooth, and there are usually 21 dorsal scale rows at midbody (some individuals have 23). The pupil is round. Juvenile coloration is like that of adults. However, in areas where it breeds with other Kingsnakes (see below), adults might have lightened interbands.

drawing

A. Top of the head (notice the large plate-like scales on the top of the head)
B. Smooth scales
C. Elongated scales below the tail (subcaudal scales) are typically divided
D. Front (face view) of the head
E. Side of the head

Range: In Florida, it is found in the northern peninsula from Alachua Co. north and west into the panhandle, excluding the Eastern Apalachicola Lowlands south of Telogia Creek. It interbreeds with the Florida Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula floridana) from Nassau Co. in the northern peninsula south to Pinellas Co. in the central peninsula, as well as with the with the Eastern Apalachicola Lowlands Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula meansi) from surrounding Apalachicola region from southern Gulf and Franklin counties to the west, north to Calhoun County, and east into northern Liberty (north of Telogia Creek), Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, and Jefferson counties. Outside of Florida, it is found from southern Alabama to southern New Jersey.

Habitat: Uncommon, it is found in pinelands, hardwood hammocks, cypress strands, prairies, marshes, and estuaries. Like other Kingsnakes in Florida, its populations have declined drastically the last few decades.

Snake

Snake

Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous), and seldom bites. The Eastern kingsnake is mainly terrestrial and active during the day, yet in the summer months individuals may be found moving at night.

It feeds on other snakes, lizards, frogs, rodents, turtle eggs, and birds and their eggs. It eats venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes, and is immune to their venom. It is even known to be cannibalistic, eating its own kind.

It lays eggs. It is primarily active from March-May, when breeding takes place. In the early summer, 3-29 eggs are laid. Newborns from 5-8 inches (12.7-20.3 cm) hatch in late summer.

Comparison with other species: The Eastern Apalachicola Lowlands Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula meansi) has either fewer than 26 wide crossbands with considerably lightened interbands, or is non-banded (striped or patternless), and 21 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The Florida Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula floridana) has > 34 light crossbands on the body, lightening of the black interband scales, a degenerate lateral chain-like pattern, and usually 23 dorsal scale rows at midbody.

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