Florida Kingsnake

NON-VENOMOUS

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Scientific name: Lampropeltis getula floridana (BLANCHARD 1919)
* 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 floridana – BLANCHARD 1919
  • Lampropeltis getulus brooksi – BARBOUR 1919 in BLANEY 1977
  • 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 brooksi – KRYSKO & JUDD 2006
  • Lampropeltis getula floridana – 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 69.5 inches (176.5 cm). Adults are variable in coloration from brown to yellow. They have more than 40 yellowish dorsal crossbands and a degenerate lateral chain-like pattern. The scales between the crossbands lighten with age, starting as black, they may develop to be the same light color as the crossbands. The belly has a checkerboard pattern. The scales are smooth, and there are usually 23 dorsal scale rows at midbody (some individuals have 21). The pupil is round. Juveniles are distinctly crossbanded (sometimes with red pigment within crossbands) and most of the scales between the crossbands are black.

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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 throughout the peninsula from Volusia Co. south to Key Largo. It intergrades (interbreeds) with the Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula) from Nassau Co. in the northern peninsula south to Pinellas Co. in the central peninsula. It is not found outside of Florida.

Habitat: Uncommon, it is found in pinelands, hardwood hammocks, cypress strands, prairies, marshes, estuaries, sugar cane plantations, and stands of melaleuca (Australian punk trees).

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Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous), and seldom bites. The Florida 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 February-May, when breeding takes place. In the early summer, 3-30 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, or is non-banded (striped or patternless), and 21 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula)has fewer than 19-32 light crossbands on the body, no lightening of the black interband scales, a lateral chain-like pattern, and usually 21 dorsal scale rows at midbody.