Lampropeltis getula (Common names include eastern kingsnake, common kingsnake, chain kingsnake, (more)) is a harmless colubrid species found in the United States and Mexico. A distinct color pattern and the fact that this species actively hunts for venomous snakes help to protect them from people. It has long been a favorite among collectors. Eight subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.
Adult specimens can range from 51 to 197 cm (20 to 78 in) in length. Speckled Kingsnakes are the smallest race on average, at 91.5 cm (36.0 in) (in snout-to-vent length) on average, while the nominate is the largest, at 107 cm (42 in) on average. Specimens up to 208.2 cm (82 inches) have been recorded. Weight can vary from 285 g (10.1 oz) in a small specimen of87.2 cm (34.3 in) in length, to 2,268 g (5.00 lb) in large specimens, of over 153 cm (60 in) in length.
The color pattern consists of a glossy black, blue-black or dark brown ground color overlaid with a series of 23-52 white chain-like rings. King snakes from the Coastal Plain have wider bands, while those found in mountainous areas have thinner bands or may be completely black.
Eastern kingsnake, common kingsnake, chain kingsnake, king snake, Carolina kingsnake, chain snake, bastard horn snake, black king snake, black moccasin, common chain snake, common king snake, cow sucker, eastern king snake, horse racer, master snake, North American king snake, oakleaf rattler, pied snake, pine snake, racer, rattlesnake pilot, thunder-and-lightning snake, thunderbolt, thunder snake, wamper, wampum snake. Also In North Carolina it is called the Pied Piper.
Found in the United States in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, portions of Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, south and southwest Illinois, southern Indiana, southern Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, southern and western Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, southern Ohio, southeastern Oklahoma, southern Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, southern Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. Also found in northern Mexico, including all of Baja California [Hubbs, 2009].
Open areas are preferred, particularly grassland, but also chaparral, oak woodland, abandoned farms, desert, low mountains, sand, and any type of riparian zone, including swamps, canals and streams [Hubbs, 2009].
They eat other snakes, including venomous snakes. It is a common misconception that they are immune to venom but in reality they have developed hunting techniques to avoid being bitten. They also eat amphibians, turtle eggs, lizards, and small mammals, which they kill by constriction.
Long a favorite among collectors, they do well in captivity, living for up to 25 years or more.
|Subspecies||Authority||Common name||Geographic range|
|L. g. californiae||(Blainville, 1835)||California kingsnake|
|L. g. floridana||Blanchard, 1919||Florida kingsnake|
|L. g. getula||(Linnaeus, 1766)||Eastern kingsnake|
|L. g. holbrooki||Stejneger, 1902||Speckled kingsnake|
|L. g. nigra||(Yarrow, 1882)||Black kingsnake|
|L. g. nigrita||Zweifel & Norris, 1955||Mexican black kingsnake|
|L. g. splendida||(Baird & Girard, 1853)||Desert kingsnake|
|L. g. meansi||Krysko & Judd, 2006||Apalachicola Lowlands Kingsnake||Apalachicola Lowlands, Florida|
Hubbs, Brian. 2009. Common Kingsnakes. Tricolor Books, Tempe, Arizona.
- Lampropeltis getula at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 29 June 2008.
- Conant R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Second Edition. First published in 1958. Houghton Mifflin Company Boston. 429 pp. 48 plates. ISBN 0-395-19979-4 (hc), ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (pb).
- Behler JL, King FW. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 743 pp. LCCCN 79-2217. ISBN 0-394-50824-6.
- Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
- "Lampropeltis getula". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=209247. Retrieved 29 June 2008.
- Burnie D, Wilson DE. 2001. Animal. Dorling Kindersley Publishing. 624 pp. ISBN 0-7894-7764-5.
- Wright AH, Wright AA. 1957. Handbook of Snakes. 2 volumes. Comstock Publishing Associates. (7th printing, 1985). 1105 pp. ISBN 0-8014-0463-0.
- Schmidt, K.P. and D.D. Davis. 1941. Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. G.P. Putnam's Sons. New York. p. 176.