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Speckled Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getulus holbrooki)



Speckled Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getulus holbrooki)
Order: Squamata, Family: Colubridae

Hatchling is 7-9 inches in length; adult grows to between 35-48 inches in length. Shiny black or dark brown with small spots ranging from yellow-orange to creamy white or ivory white, and sometimes spots blend together creating a banded appearance; yellow belly with occasional black sections; 2-4 yellow lines on edges of head; juvenile tends to be dark olive-green. Large eyes at the sides of the head and nostrils at the sides of the snout, with a muscular body and neck. Nonvenomous.



I. DESCRIPTION:
  • Hatchling is 7-9 inches in length; adult grows to between 35-48 inches in length.
  • Shiny black or dark brown with small spots ranging from yellow-orange to creamy white or ivory white, and sometimes spots blend together creating a banded appearance; yellow belly with occasional black sections; 2-4 yellow lines on edges of head; juvenile tends to be dark olive-green.
  • Large eyes at the sides of the head and nostrils at the sides of the snout, with a muscular body and neck.
  • Nonvenomous.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
  • Southwestern Illinois to southern Iowa, south to eastern Texas, and east to southwestern Alabama.
  • Most abundant in wet habitats, i.e., freshwater and brackish swamps, bottomland hardwood forests, prairie streams and upland forests.
  • Found under rocks, logs or boards; on rocky, wooded hillsides; near farm buildings.
III. DIET:
  • Young feed mainly on lizards, frogs, rodents and small snakes (such as baby garter and ribbon snakes); adults mainly feed on rodents, snakes (various water snakes, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, coral snakes and speckled kingsnakes) and occasionally birds and their eggs.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
  • Solitary.
  • Actively searches for prey; strikes accurately, bites, and then kills by constricting, surrounding its victim with suffocating coils.
  • Reaches sexual maturity between 2-3 years of age.
  • Female usually lays 2 clutches of 6-25 eggs per breeding season (June-July); incubation period lasts about 8 weeks; once eggs are laid, female leaves eggs to hatch on their own.
  • Life spans approximately 20-25 years.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
  • Although regarded as gentle, when threatened will bite, rattle tail, and defecate. The kingsnake may also emit a foul smelling musk so repugnant to a Predator with a sense of smell that it will often release the snake before any extensive damage is done.
  • Not affected by bite of venomous snakes, such as rattlesnakes, moccasins and copperheads.
VI. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:
  • Helps keep population of rodents in check.
  • Preyed upon by hawks and eagles.
VII. MORE KINGSNAKE FACTS:
  • "Kingsnake" is the common name for certain members of a genus of North American constricting snakes that kill by interrupting circulation and breathing.
  • Derives its name from its habit of eating other snakes, including rattlesnakes, copperheads and coral snakes.
  • The kingsnake, like all snakes, does not have eyelids; therefore, when it sleeps, it does not shut its eyes. Also, clouded eyes are an indication that it is preparing to shed its skin.
  • Albino speckled kingsnakes lack black pigmentation but retain spots.
  • The speckled kingsnake is commonly referred to as the "salt and pepper kingsnake."



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01. Speckled Kingsnakes / Carol Heard (28/08/2006)

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