Mole Kingsnake

NON-VENOMOUS

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Scientific name: Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata (HOLBROOK 1840)
* Currently accepted name

Synonym:
* scientific names used through time

  • Coluber calligaster – HARLAN 1827
  • Coluber rhombo-maculatus – HOLBROOK 1840
  • Coronella rhombomaculata – HOLBROOK 1842
  • Ophibolus rhombomaculatus – BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
  • Ablabes triangulum var. calligaster – HALLOWELL 1856
  • Lampropeltis calligaster – COPE 1860
  • Lampropeltis rhombomaculata – COPE 1860
  • Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata – CONANT 1958

Average adult size is 30-40 inches (76.2-101.6 cm), record is 47 inches (119.3 cm). Adults are tannish to orange, with 50 or fewer black-bordered reddish-brown body blotches. There are smaller reddish-brown blotches on the sides between the larger mid-dorsal blotches. Some old individuals may be almost solid brown. The belly is checkered or clouded brown. The neck is indistinct. There is a light colored Y-shaped pattern on the back of the head and neck. There is sometimes a dark line through the eye. The scales are smooth, and there are 21-23 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round. Juvenile coloration is similar to that of adults, but may be slightly darker.

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A. Top of the head
B. Smooth scales
C. Front (face view) of the head
D. Elongated scales below the tail (subcaudal scales) are typically divided
E. Side of the head

Range: In Florida, the Mole Kingsnake is found in the panhandle. There have been isolated reports from the northern peninsula near the St. Johns River, and a previously reported specimen from Leesburg, Lake County, is now confirmed to be a Red Corsnake. Outside of Florida, it is found from eastern Louisiana to Maryland.

Habitat: Rare, it has been found near pinelands, hardwood hammocks, sandhills, prairies, and agricultural fields.

Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). The Mole Kingsnake is a terrestrial burrower, active mainly at night. It has been found under boards and logs, around plowed fields, and crossing roads at night. Because of its fossorial behavior, less than 40 specimens have been found in Florida within the last 40 years.

It feeds on lizards, rodents, and other snakes. It lays eggs. No natural nests have been recorded. Records from captive specimens indicate that breeding occurs in the spring, with newborns around 5-7 inches (12.7-17.7 cm) hatching in late summer.

Comparison with other species: The Eastern Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus) has a distinct neck, light spear-shaped pattern on the back of the head and neck, and black and white checkerboard patterned belly.