The King Snake, America's Pet Snake That Eats Venomous Snakes!
The King Snake
The King snake is the KING of snakes in most every domain or region in which they live, and what that means is that they EAT other snakes, and other things that we humans tend to find undesirable, especially high on the "undesirable" list of King Snake snack foods are rodents such as rats and mice. If eating other snakes - venomous snakes - wasn't enough to endear you to the King snake, then surely eating rats and mice should be.
Years ago my brother ran a BBQ restaurant outside of Tyler, Texas; and he was a new hire at the time for the restaurant owner, and was at the woodpile behind the restaurant loading some logs for the fire. He saw a huge snake, and killed it. Our Dad's idea had always been that the only good snake was a dead one. The owner of the BBQ restaurant, however, was very unhappy. He'd paid $35.00 for that King snake - to keep the rats and mice out of his wood pile.
The King Snake - This Snake Is Your FRIEND!
The King Snake
Another little story: Years ago I lived further in the sticks than I do now, in a little bitty rural Texas community called Gray's Prairie. I was living in someone's RV, and on their property that they shared with their in laws, besides the child of their own, the people had adopted FIVE children. Their family produced lots of garbage, and as it was legal, they would often burn a large portion of it, and had been doing so for a great many years on the family's large property.
I'm ever the scrap metal scavenger, and so I was doing a bit of digging for metals - tax free income that, and when I can NOT pay income taxes, that inevitably go towards the murders of persons in far away places, I do that for it's moral superiority. On top of a large and old mound that had been a burn pile in the past, I was gathering aluminium cans when I got that peculiar feeling that one sometimes gets when he realizes that he's not alone. Soon, beneath me, the largest snake I'd ever seen emerged from the mound. I'll not forget the rustling of the leaves as it slithered on by, disturbed as it was by my intrusion - a King Snake.
The Largest of the Eastern King Snakes that had ever been measured was Eight feet and Five inches long - but they could possibly grow larger than that. The Eastern King Snake and the Speckled King Snake are both found in my area of North East Texas. The snake that I encountered in the story above was the largest reptile that I'd ever seen. I did not feel fearful of the creature. I felt like I'd been sort of rude towards the thing - trespassing on his mound for aluminium cans.
A Texas Speckled King Snake - Lampropeltis getula holbrooki
King Snakes As Pets
The King Snake articles on Wikipedia are all found easiest from the general King Snake article, and from that web page - I'll provide the following quote:
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.
I've probably got more opinions about politics than I do about snakes - but the concept of giving live rodents to a pet snake being illegal in some countries. . . .is disgusting. Male or female - snakes are predators, and to deny a predator it's prey is un natural - and THAT, my friends, is unhealthy. I could give fuck all to nothing about what laws are in any place that I'm at. Laws have never, EVER been anything more than tools of the powerful used to oppress the less so. Stay sovereign, my friends.
The Eastern King Snake - Lampropeltis getulas Is NOT A Water Moccasin
King Snakes - Constrictors.
The King Snake is a constrictor, and that means that it kills it's prey by coiling it's powerful, long, muscular body around things and choking them to death. Of course the exception to this is that the King Snakes will also eat eggs of most anything that lays them. You can't choke an egg, imagine the mess.
We here on the Shaw homestead raise chickens. . .um. . .I mean, My Dad raises chickens. Besides the occasional opossum, skunk, and raccoon that must meet a nasty shotgun fate for killing Dad's chickens - so too does the foolish and lazy King Snakes that get into the coops. While the Dad is always mystified by the cleverness of the four legged fiends that get inside his well protected hen houses - keeping a snake out is virtually impossible. It's also, and for the same reasons, virtually impossible to keep the wise snake IN the coops for execution.
As discussed above - King Snakes sometimes grow to be very large - so it goes without saying that a human infant and an 8ft. 5inch King Snake should probably not play together. If you need me to explain that to you further - then I can't do that - because you can't be helped. I'm NOT saying that I've ever heard of a King Snake consuming an infant Homo sapien, I'm just trying to exercise what I think of as common sense. My experience is that some persons don't have any, and I've got it in spades.
Lampropeltis elapsoides - The Scarlet King Snake Is NOT A Coral Snake
The Scarlet King Snake
"If red touches yellow, you're a dead fellow; if red touches black, you're all right, Jack"
The Colloquial wisdom in the rhyme above is dead on accurate. The Scarlet King Snake is harmless. The Coral Snake's bite will kill you in minutes. You could get bit by a Coral Snake in the ER of a large hospital - and still die. In any case, the red on a snake ought to tell you something, and that something is LEAVE IT ALONE. A King Snake is harmless, and a Coral Snake seriously doesn't want to bite you. The Scarlet King Snake is, besides being so colourful, rather smaller than the other King Snakes.
The Mole King Snake - NOT A Copperhead
King Snakes and Venomous Snakes
One of the points that I'm trying to make clear here is that for every venomous snake there is a King Snake that looks damned similar to it, but is harmless. King Snakes are always evolved in such a manner that they are IMMUNE to the venom of the venomous snakes in their regions. A King Snake, as stated before here, is THE KING Snake in it's region, and it proves that by EATING the venomous snakes in it's region when and if the occasion arises.
The Mole King Snake above looks an awful lot like a copperhead - but the Mole King Snake grows to larger sizes than any copperhead ever has. It makes you wonder - do they start to look like copperhead from eating so many copperheads? Some things make me go "hmmm....."
The California King Snake - Lampropeltis getula californiae
Water Moccasin - NOT A King Snake. Note The Shape Of The Water Mocassin's Head.
The Tremendous Diversity Of King Snakes
The California King Snake isn't just for Californians - These snakes live in the South Western to Western United States, from Baja California to Oregon and Southern Utah to Western Arizona.
The Genus Lampropeltis has four species under it, and FORTY FIVE subspecies. Basically, King Snakes do a lot of interbreeding, and are found from coast to coast in the United States and Mexico.
The King Snake is NOT a Rat Snake - The Rat Snake is a different snake altogether, but that doesn't mean that the common yayhoo knows one from the other, and so King Snakes are often called Rat Snakes.
Also, the Milk Snake is a species or sub species of King Snake. The Taxonomy of these King Snakes is in no way a settled matter. According to Wikipedia it's highly debatable within the Biological community as to what the classifications of various and sundry King Snakes should be.
When I was five years old, or so, I was attending a church camp at Fort Parker State Park in Limestone County, Texas - and I found a snake. Of course I went and yelled for my Dad, but there was also another man there, and his name was John. Well, John asked me,
Was the snakes eyes round, or were they slanted?
Of course I didn't know if the snakes eyes were round or slanted, I was only excited about finding myself a snake. I probably wanted to keep it, or something. The man named John said,
Well, get down there and see if the snakes eyes are round or slanted! If they are round, then it's a good snake!
I don't think my Dad much agreed to that suggestion, as his thoughts were that if it's eyes were DEAD, then it was a good snake, and thus my brother's attitude and murder of a perfectly good King Snake that had been purchased for $35.00 to keep the rats out of the wood pile behind the BBQ restaurant.
An Albino King Snake
I think that the many varieties and colorful variations of these King Snakes is truly beautiful. I don't think that snakes are so beautiful, but when you consider that King Snakes eat coral snakes, rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasin snakes - you can really SEE the beauty of the King Snakes in all of their trans coastal U.S. and Mexican varieties.
Factor in that they also eat rats and mice, and you've got yourself, if not a friend and house guest, at least a neighbor that is preferable to State Farm, if you know what I mean.
Killing a snake is just stupid unless one is venomous, and too close to your home, or (heaven forbid) inside of it. If a snake is of the non venomous variety, then don't kill it, . . .unless, of course, it's eating your chickens or their eggs.
Remember - if you kill a king snake, and then later on you are bitten by a rattlesnake and killed. It might actually be YOUR FAULT. The King Snake you killed was probably supposed to eat the rattlesnake that killed you - but you, ignorantly killing a King Snake, effed up the universe, and the universe didn't like it.
The Indigo Snake NOT a King Snake - It Is Criminal Offence To Kill Indigo Snakes
© 2011 Wesman Todd Shaw