Eastern King Snake

Eastern King Snake



COMMON NAME: Eastern king snake
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Reptilia
ORDER: Squamata
FAMILY: Colubridae
GENUS SPECIES: Lampropeltis (shining, beautiful scales) getula getula


DESCRIPTION: Eastern kingsnakes are typically banded, with colors ranging from black and white to brown and yellow with horizontal stripes, bands, speckling, and chain marking.
SIZE: Eastern kingsnakes range in size from 91.4-121.9 cm (36-48 in.); longest recorded individual was 208.2 cm (82 in.)
WEIGHT: No data
DIET: Kingsnakes prey on small mammals and eggs. They also frequently feed on other reptiles such as anoles and chameleons, but they are also known for eating other snakes.
INCUBATION: 60-75 days

Like many reptiles, the incubation temperature of the snake's eggs may determine the offspring's sex; warmer temperatures usually create males while cool temperatures create females.
CLUTCH SIZE 3-29 eggs
SEXUAL MATURITY: Approximately 2 years
LIFE SPAN: 10-15 years
RANGE: Kingsnakes have one of the widest distributions of any American snake. They range throughout the southern United States and Mexico. The Eastern sub-species can be found as far north as southern New Jersey and as far west as southern Alabama.
HABITAT: Pinelands, hardwood hammocks, prairies, marshes, and estuaries
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed


1. Milksnakes, also known as kingsnakes, get their name from an old belief that they drink milk from cows. This myth probably arose because they were commonly spotted in barns and stables, where there is a concentration of rodents.
2. Kingsnakes use quick, jerky movements so that their bands flash, startling predators. Their bright colors signal danger and often confuse predators, making these snakes hard to follow.
3. Kingsnakes are known for eating other snakes - including venomous species. Kingsnakes are apparently immune to the venom of the snake species upon which they prey.
4. Kingsnakes kill their prey via constriction.
5. One way to tell the difference between corn snakes and kingsnakes is by identifying the flat belly of the corn snake as compared to the rounded belly of the kingsnake.


Many important predators, like birds of prey, feed on young snakes. This means that snakes fulfill roles as both predators and prey in regional food chains. Kingsnakes are also valuable in their role of curbing rodent populations, especially those near human settlements.


Coborn, John. The Atlas of Snakes of the World. New Jersey: T.F.H. Publications, inc. 1991.

Markel, R. and R. D. Bartlette. Kingsnakes and milksnakes. TFH Publications, Inc. 1990.

Mehrtens, John M. Living Snakes of the World. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., 1987.