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Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Reptilia
Subclassis: Diapsida
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Superfamilia: Colubroidea
Familia: Colubridae
Subfamilia: Colubrinae
Genus: Lampropeltis
Species: L. alterna - L. calligaster - L. extenuatum - L. getula - L. mexicana - L. pyromelana - L. ruthveni - L. triangulum - L. webbi - L. zonata


Lampropeltis Fitzinger, 1843

Type species: Coluber getulus Linnaeus, 1766: 382


* Fitzinger, 1843, Syst. Rept., p. 25.
* Lampropeltis at the New Reptile Database. Accessed on 13 sep 2008.

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Konigsnattern
English: Kingsnakes
日本語: キングヘビ属

Kingsnakes are a type of colubrid snake that are members of the Lampropeltis genus, which also includes the milk snake along with another four species and 45 sub-species.

Lampropeltis means "shiny shield" (from Greek λαμπρος, "shine" + πελτα, "small shield"), a name given to them in reference to their dorsal scales. The majority of kingsnakes have quite vibrant patterns on their skin. Kingsnakes use constriction to kill their prey and tend to be opportunistic when it comes to their diet; they will eat other snakes (ophiophagy), including venomous snakes, lizards, rodents, birds and eggs. The Common Kingsnake genus are known to be immune to the venom of other snakes and are known to eat rattlesnakes (note — Kingsnakes are not necessarily immune to the venom of snakes from different localities.). The "king" in their name (as with the king cobra) references their taste for other snakes.

Some species of kingsnake, such as the Scarlet Kingsnake, have coloration and patterning which can cause them to be confused with the venomous coral snakes. There are mnemonic rhymes to help people distinguish between the coral snake and its non-venomous look-alikes, including "Red and yellow kills a fellow. Red and black is safe for Jack."

Taxonomic reclassification is an ongoing process, and different sources often disagree, granting full species status to a group of these snakes that another source considers a subspecies. In the case of Lampropeltis catalinensis, for example, only a single specimen exists, and therefore classification is not necessarily finite. In addition, hybridization between species which have overlapping geographic ranges is not uncommon, confusing taxonomists further.

Kingsnakes are commonly kept as pets, due to their ease of care. Kingsnakes are overall hardy and simple to care for. Their captive diet usually consists of appropriately sized rodents, prekilled. Giving live rodents is an illegal offense in some countries and may be bad for the snake's health, as live rodents are capable of delivering powerful bites, potentially injuring the snake. Kingsnakes are generally docile, curious and gentle.

* Grey-Banded Kingsnake, Lampropeltis alterna (Brown, 1901)
* Lampropeltis calligaster
o Prairie Kingsnake, Lampropeltis calligaster (Harlan, 1827)
o South Florida Mole Kingsnake, Lampropeltis calligaster occipitolineata Price, 1987
o Mole Kingsnake, Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata (Holbrook, 1840)
* Common Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula
o California Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula californiae (Blainville, 1835)
o Florida Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula floridana (Blanchard, 1919)
o Eastern Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula getula (Linnaeus, 1766)
o Apalachicola Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula meansi Krysko & Judd, 2006
o Speckled Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula holbrooki Stejneger, 1902
o Black Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula niger (Yarrow, 1882)
o Western Black Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula nigrita Zweifel & Norris, 1955
o Desert Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula splendida (Baird & Girard, 1853)
o Isla Santa Catalina Kingsnake Lampropeltis "getula" catalinensis (Van Denburgh & Slevin, 1921)
* Lampropeltis mexicana
o Lampropeltis mexicana leonis (Günther, 1893)
o Durango Mountain Kingsnake, Lampropeltis mexicana greeri Webb, 1961
o Nuevo Leon Kingsnake, Lampropeltis mexicana thayeri (Loveridge, 1924)
* Lampropeltis pyromelana
o Utah Mountain Kingsnake, Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis Tanner, 1953
o Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake, Lampropeltis pyromelana knoblochi Taylor, 1940
o Arizona Mountain Kingsnake, Lampropeltis pyromelana pyromelana (Cope, 1866)
* Ruthven's Kingsnake, Lampropeltis ruthveni (Blanchard, 1920)
* Lampropeltis triangulum
o See: 'milk snake'
o Scarlet Kingsnake, Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides (Holbrook, 1838)
* Lampropeltis webbi Bryson, Dixon & Lazcano, 2005
* Lampropeltis zonata
o San Pedro Kingsnake, Lampropeltis zonata agalma (Van Denburgh & Slevin, 1923)
o Todos Santos Island Kingsnake, Lampropeltis zonata herrerae (Van Denburgh & Slevin, 1923)
o Sierra Mountain Kingsnake, Lampropeltis zonata multicincta (Yarrow, 1882)
o Coast Mountain Kingsnake, Lampropeltis zonata multifasciata (Bocourt, 1886)
o San Bernardino Mountain Kingsnake, Lampropeltis zonata parvirubra Zweifel, 1952
o San Diego Mountain Kingsnake, Lampropeltis zonata pulchra Zweifel, 1952
o St. Helena Mountain Kingsnake, Lampropeltis zonata zonata (Blainville, 1835)

Additionally, Alex Pyron and Burbrink have argued that the short-tailed snake, more familiar as Stilosoma extenuatum, be included with Lampropeltis.[1]


1. ^ Pyron, R.Alexander; Frank T. Burbrink 2009. Neogene diversification and taxonomic stability in the snake tribe Lampropeltini (Serpentes: Colubridae) Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 52 (2): 524-529

Hubbs, Brian. 2009. Common Kingsnakes. Tricolor Books, Tempe, Arizona.

* Genus Lampropeltis at The Reptile Database

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Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License