Fine Art

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Infraordo: Caenophidia
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 colubrid New World members of the genus Lampropeltis, which includes milk snakes and four other species. Among these, about 45 subspecies are recognized. They are nonvenomous and ophiophagous in diet.


Lampropeltis includes the Greek words for "shiny shield":[3] λαμπρός lampro(s) ("shiny") + πέλτη pelt(ē) ("peltē shield") + -is (a Latin suffix). The name is given to them in reference to their smooth, enamel-like dorsal scales.[4]

The "king" in the common name (as with the king cobra) refers to its preying on other snakes.[5]
Range and morphology

Kingsnake species inhabit the Americas from southeastern Canada to southern Ecuador. Several species vary widely in size and coloration. Adult scarlet kingsnakes are typically 40 to 50 cm (16 to 20 in) in length, while the common kingsnake can grow to 1.8 m (6 ft). Some kingsnakes are colored in muted browns to black, while others are brightly marked in white, reds, yellows, grays, and lavenders that form rings, longitudinal stripes, speckles, and saddle-shaped bands.[6]
Behavior and diet

Kingsnakes use constriction to kill their prey and tend to be opportunistic in their diet; they eat other snakes (ophiophagy), including venomous snakes. Kingsnakes also eat lizards, rodents, birds, and eggs.[7] The common kingsnake is known to be immune to the venom of other snakes and does eat rattlesnakes, but it is not necessarily immune to the venom of snakes from different localities.[7]

Kingsnakes such as the California kingsnake can exert twice as much constriction force relative to body size as rat snakes and pythons. Scientists believe such strong coils may be an adaptation to snake and other reptile prey, which can endure lower blood-oxygen levels before asphyxiating.[8]

Most kingsnakes have quite vibrant patterns on their skins. Some species, such as the scarlet kingsnake, Mexican milk snake, and red milk snake, have coloration and patterning that can cause them to be confused with the highly venomous coral snakes. One of the mnemonic rhymes to help people distinguish between coral snakes and their nonvenomous lookalikes in the United States is "red on black, a friend of Jack; red on yellow, kill a fellow". Other variations include "red on yellow kill a fellow, red on black venom lack",[9][10] and referencing the order of traffic lights "yellow, red, stop!" All these mnemonics apply only to the three species of coral snakes native to the southern United States: Micrurus fulvius (the eastern or common coral snake), Micrurus tener (the Texas coral snake), and Micruroides euryxanthus (the Arizona coral snake). Coral snakes found in other parts of the world can have distinctly different patterns, such as having red bands touching black bands, having only pink and blue bands, or having no bands at all.

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

Kingsnakes are often preyed upon by large vertebrates, such as birds of prey. Tarantulas also sometimes prey on them.[11]
List of kingsnake species and subspecies
Mole kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata)
California kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae)
Eastern kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula)
Speckled kingsnake (Lampropeltis holbrooki)

Kingsnake species and subspecies include (listed here alphabetically by specific and subspecific name):[12]

Guatemalan milk snake, Lampropeltis abnorma (Bocourt, 1886)
Gray-banded kingsnake, Lampropeltis alterna (A. E. Brown, 1901)
Mexican milk snake, Lampropeltis annulata Kennicott, 1860
California kingsnake, Lampropeltis californiae (Blainville, 1835)
Prairie kingsnake, Lampropeltis calligaster (Harlan, 1827)
Santa Catalina Island kingsnake, Lampropeltis catalinensis (Van Denburgh & Slevin, 1921)
Scarlet kingsnake or scarlet milk snake, Lampropeltis elapsoides (Holbrook, 1838)
Short-tailed snake, Lampropeltis extenuata (Brown, 1890)
Central Plains milk snake, Lampropeltis gentilis (Baird & Girard, 1853)
Common kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula (Linnaeus, 1766)
Brooks' kingsnake, L. g. brooksi Barbour, 1919
Florida kingsnake, L. g. floridana (Blanchard, 1919)
Eastern kingsnake, L. g. getula (Linnaeus, 1766)
Apalachicola kingsnake, L. g. meansi Krysko & Judd, 2006
Mexican black kingsnake, L. g. nigrita Zweifel & Norris, 1955
Greer's kingsnake, Lampropeltis greeri (Webb, 1961)
Speckled kingsnake, Lampropeltis holbrooki Stejneger, 1902
Madrean mountain kingsnake, Lampropeltis knoblochi Taylor, 1940
Nuevo León kingsnake, Lampropeltis leonis (Günther, 1893)
Mexican kingsnake, Lampropeltis mexicana (Garman, 1884)
Mexican kingsnake, L. m. mexicana (Garman, 1884)
Ecuadorian milk snake, Lampropeltis micropholis Cope, 1860
Black kingsnake, Lampropeltis nigra (Yarrow, 1882)
South Florida mole kingsnake, Lampropeltis occipitolineata Price, 1987
Central American milk snake, Lampropeltis polyzona Cope, 1860
Arizona mountain kingsnake, Lampropeltis pyromelana (Cope, 1866)
Utah mountain kingsnake, L. p. infralabialis W. W. Tanner, 1953
Arizona mountain kingsnake, L. p. pyromelana (Cope, 1866)
Mole kingsnake, Lampropeltis rhombomaculata (Holbrook, 1840)
Ruthven's kingsnake, Lampropeltis ruthveni (Blanchard, 1920)
Desert kingsnake, Lampropeltis splendida (Baird & Girard, 1853)
Eastern milk snake, Lampropeltis triangulum (Lacépède, 1789)
Lampropeltis webbi Bryson, Dixon & Lazcano, 2005
California mountain kingsnake, Lampropeltis zonata (Lockington, 1876 ex Blainville, 1835)
San Pedro kingsnake, L. z. agalma (Van Denburgh & Slevin, 1923)
Todos Santos Island kingsnake, L. z. herrerae (Van Denburgh & Slevin, 1923)
Sierra Nevada mountain kingsnake, L. z. multicincta (Yarrow, 1882)
Coast Ranges mountain kingsnake, L. z. multifasciata (Bocourt, 1886)
San Bernardino mountain kingsnake, L. z. parvirubra Zweifel, 1952
San Diego mountain kingsnake, L. z. pulchra Zweifel, 1952
Saint Helena mountain kingsnake, L. z. zonata (Lockington, 1876 ex Blainville, 1835)

Additionally, Pyron and Burbrink have argued that the short-tailed snake (Stilosoma extenuatum) (Brown, 1890) should be included in Lampropeltis.[13]

"Fossilworks: Lampropeltis".
Wright, A. H., and A. A. Wright. (1957). Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Comstock. Ithaca and London. 1,105 pp. (in 2 volumes) (Genus Lampropeltis, p. 330.)
"Lampropeltis". Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Tennant, Alan (2006). Lone Star Field Guide to Texas Snakes. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 193. ISBN 978-1-4616-3564-2. "the smooth dorsal scales have an enamel-like surface to which the genus' Latin name, Lampropeltis, or "shining skin shield," refers."
Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "King snake vs Rattlesnake Oro Valley Az". 2015-12-12.
Powell, Robert; Conant, Roger; Collins, Joseph T. (2016). Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 375–381. ISBN 978-0544662-490.
Conant, R. (1975). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 429 pp.
ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (paperback). (Genus Lampropeltis, p. 201.)
"Snake Kills Bigger Snakes with World's Most Powerful Squeeze". 2017-03-15.
Life's Better Outdoors, South Carolina Department of natural resources Archived 2015-06-30 at the Wayback Machine (see FAQ's. -- "are there any visual clues"). Retrieved July 15, 2015
Medical-Surgical Nursing: Patient-Centered Collaborative Care by Donna D. Ignatavicius, M. Linda Workman (pages 141-142)
Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Spider vs snake". YouTube.
Genus Lampropeltis at The Reptile Database

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.

Further reading

Hubbs, Brian (2009). Common Kingsnakes: A Natural History of Lampropeltis getula. Tricolor Books, Tempe, Arizona


Biology Encyclopedia

Reptiles Images

Retrieved from ""
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Home - Hellenica World