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Brief Summary

    Gray-banded kingsnake: Brief Summary
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    The gray-banded kingsnake (Lampropeltis alterna), sometimes referred to as the alterna or the Davis Mountain king snake, is a species of nonvenomous snake in the family Colubridae. The species is endemic to the southwestern United States and adjacent Mexico. Some sources list two distinct subspecies of Lampropeltis alterna, as L. a. alterna and L. a. blairi differentiated by patterning and locale, but research has shown them to be morphs of the same species.

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Comprehensive Description

    Gray-banded kingsnake
    provided by wikipedia

    The gray-banded kingsnake (Lampropeltis alterna), sometimes referred to as the alterna or the Davis Mountain king snake, is a species of nonvenomous snake in the family Colubridae. The species is endemic to the southwestern United States and adjacent Mexico. Some sources list two distinct subspecies of Lampropeltis alterna, as L. a. alterna and L. a. blairi differentiated by patterning and locale, but research has shown them to be morphs of the same species.[4]

    Distribution and habitat

    Lampropeltis alterna is found in the Trans-Pecos/Chihuahuan Desert region of southwestern Texas, southern New Mexico, and northern Mexico.

    Description

    Lampropeltis alterna2.jpg

    A moderately sized snake, the gray-banded kingsnake can grow up to 4 ft (120 cm) in total length (including tail), with the average total length being 3 ft (91 cm).[5] It has a relatively wide head (when compared to other kingsnake species), and has large eyes with round pupils.

    L. alterna coloration and patterning vary greatly, but there are two main color morphs, which were once considered separate subspecies: the "blairi" which has wide red/orange banding, and the "alterna" which has thinner orange/red banding. Both are generally on a gray background with white and/or black accenting. There are many variations on this basic morphology found in the wild and captive bred, with some specimens even lacking orange or red banding entirely.

    Etymology

    The color morph "blairi", formerly specific name or subspecific name blairi, is named in honor of American zoologist William Franklin Blair.[6]

    Behavior

    In the wild, the gray-banded kingsnake, is not often encountered. It is a common species, but nocturnal and quite secretive. Its natural range is sparsely populated with humans, and many regions are virtually impassable due to the mountainous terrain. In the field herpetologist community, finding this snake in the wild is often considered to be a laudable feat. Most that are located are found along the roadways that transect their habitat in the Trans Pecos region. L. alterna generally has a calm disposition and is not prone to defensive reactions, like biting.

    Diet

    The gray-banded kingsnake feeds primarily on lizards. It will occasionally feed on small rodents, frogs, and the eggs of ground nesting birds, lizards, and other snakes.

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    An "alterna" morph with lizard prey item.

    Reproduction

    L. alterna is oviparous, laying clutches of 3–13 eggs in early summer, which hatch in approximately 9 weeks. Each hatchling is around 10 in (25 cm) in total length.[7]

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    Gray-banded kingsnake, "blairi " morph.

    Domestication

    Gray-banded kingsnakes are commonly kept in captivity and are fairly easy to come by in the exotic pet trade. Due to their relatively small size, calm dispositions, and astounding array of pattern variations they are frequently captive bred. Many alterna breeders are strict about keeping locality bloodlines pure, and will only breed snakes from the same region, though as market demand decreases, this is becoming less and less important to some breeders. Cross breeding with other species of kingsnake, like the Neuvo León kingsnake, Lampropeltis mexicana thayeri is fairly common as well.

    References

    1. ^ Hammerson GA, Santos-Barrera G (2007). Lampropeltis alterna. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2.
    2. ^ "Lampropeltis alterna". The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
    3. ^ Conant R (1975). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. xviii + 429 pp. + Plates 1-48. .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"""""'"'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}ISBN 0-395-19979-4 (hardcover), ISBN 0-395-19977-8. (paperback). (Lampropeltis mexicana alterna, pp. 210-211 + Plate 32 + Map154).
    4. ^ Barringer, Jeff (1998). A Short History of the Lampropeltis alterna (Gray-banded Kingsnake). Kingsnake.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-02.
    5. ^ Grey-Banded King Snake Care Sheet. TheKingSnake.co.uk. Retrieved on 2013-01-02.
    6. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Lampropeltis alterna blairi, p. 26).
    7. ^ Herps of Texas: Lampropeltis alterna. Zo.utexas.edu. Retrieved on 2013-01-02.

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Distribution

    Distribution
    provided by ReptileDB
    Continent: Middle-America
    Distribution: Mexico (Transpecos, Durango, N Zacatecas, Coahuila), USA (Texas, Trans-Pecos).
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Life Expectancy

    Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
    provided by AnAge articles
    Maximum longevity: 19.7 years (captivity)
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