Kingsnakes of Louisiana
Reptile: Lampropeltis species, Beautiful and Beneficial Snakes
Since we were children we have welcomed the gentle, non-venomous reptile, the King snake into our yard. On this page you will find information about and photographs of the Kingsnake species that inhabit Louisiana.
Kingsnakes are constrictors that live in many habitats, but seem to prefer ridges and levees that border wet areas. These attractive reptiles will kill and eat poisonous snakes, but their most common prey is mice and rats. Members of the Lampropeltis species are very beneficial snakes and are friends of the farmers and gardeners alike. King snakes should be prized and protected from harm because, like other snakes, they are an important link in the food chain.
We hope that this page will encourage many people to welcome this beautiful creature into their habitats.
Speckled Kingsnake Poster
There are 5 different species of Kingsnakes in Louisiana and a similar looking species, the Scarlet Snake. The photo below was found in Dundee, Harold A. and Douglas A. Rossman's, The Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana and shows:
A. Common Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getulus
B. Prairie Kingsnake, Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster
C. Mole Kingsnake, Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata
D. Louisiana milk snake, Lampropeltis triangulum amaura
E. Scarlet Kingsnake, Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides
F. Scarlet Snake, Cemphora coccinea
Speckled or Common Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getulus
The most common kingsnake in Southeastern Louisiana, where we reside, is the common or speckled kingsnake. We have had many encounters with this lovely and gentle creature and we welcome them in our habitat. Kingsnakes are constrictors, which means they wrap their bodies around their prey and squeeze until the prey is dead. One unique fact about kingsnakes is their ability to overpower and kill venomous snakes without succumbing to their venom.
This great photo of a Speckled Kingsnake killing and eating a venomous Copperhead was taken by Michael Roedel. Click on the photo to go to Flickr to see a larger image or on the link to view more of Michael's outstanding snake photographs.
Kingsnakes primarily eat mice and rats so they are handy to have in the garden or in the yard. If you encourage Kingsnakes to inhabit your area, the rodent population will decrease.
Kingsnakes are egg layers and lay a clutch of from 5 to 17 eggs in the spring.
Some Facts About Speckled Kingsnakes
All kingsnakes are egg layers. They mate in spring and lay from 3-24 eggs in early summer in a moist protected spot such as rotting logs or stumps. The young hatch from 2 to 2 1/2 months after the eggs are laid.
Besides venomous snakes, their prey includes lizards, rodents, reptile eggs, birds and their eggs and also small turtles. Kingsnakes hunt prey primarily through smell, but vision is also used.
Because of their large size, King snakes only fear large predators. When threatened they will vibrate their tail and go into a striking position. A musky liquid will also be released. All these are defensive actions and king snakes are usually docile if handled gently.
Prairie Kingsnake, Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster
Prairie King Snake print by scenro on Zazzle
These gentle, attractive constrictors are more common in the western part of Louisiana. For more information check out the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries site.
Young Prairie King Snake
Herping With Dylan: Prairie Kingsnake
Mole Kingsnake, Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata
Mole kingsnakes are sometimes difficult to identify from the other species. The Florida Museum has a handy Snake Identification Key for those that inhabit the Southeastern Coastal area.
Mole Kingsnake Video
Louisiana milk snake, Lampropeltis triangulum amaura
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries has more information about this attractive reptile.
Louisiana Milk Snake Video
Red Milk Snake
Video Comparing a Louisiana Milk Snake to a Coral Snake
When trying to tell the non-venomous, the scarlet king snake, Louisiana milk snake and scarlet snake from the venomous, coral snake, always remember the children's rhyme:
Red on yellow, kill a fellow
Red on black, come on back.
When the red stripe touches a black stripe, the snake is a king snake. When the red and yellow stripes touch, the snake is a coral snake. You'll find more information comparing three of the look-alikes at the Florida Museum site.
Scarlet King Snake
Scarlet kingsnakes are often killed because they are confused with the venomous coral snake so they are becoming less common in the wild. You'll find more information about the scarlett king snake at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries site.
Snakes of the Southeast
One of the best reference books about snakes of the southeastern U.S. The photos are excellent and the information is accurate and timely. Wormsloe Foundation publishes a number of wonderful books about the flora and fauna of the South.
Scarlet Snake, Cemphora coccinea
The scarlet snake is a seldom seen nocturnal species. More information can be found at Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.
Do you have kinder feelings toward Kingsnakes, now?
These reptiles are good climbers because they are constrictors and can wrap around small branches.
Links to More About Louisiana Snakes
- Rat Snakes in Louisiana
Rat snakes are non-venomous reptiles that are good climbers and eat rodents and other vermin. They are found all over Louisiana.
- Ribbon and Garter Snakes
Ribbon and Garter snakes are small, non-venomous, mild-tempered reptiles that eat insects and small rodents. Here you'll find photos, information and books about these garden beneficial snakes.
- Snakes of Louisiana
Snakes are an important link in the food chain. Here you will find many photos of venomous and non-venomous Louisiana snakes as well as information and links to most.
© 2008 Yvonne L B