The kingsnake is a part of the colubrid New World and is of the Lampropeltis genus. The Kingsnake has a subspecies of 45 and they are nonvenomous. The kingsnake is the most common snake in North America. Some of its subspecies, like the Mexican kingsnake and Red kingsnake can often be confused with a Coral Snake, which is highly venomous. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to the pattern of their scales when out in nature. While some snakes of this species can be as small as 24 inches, others can grow up to 60 inches in length! So, what is the largest Kingsnake ever recorded? Let’s find out.
Largest Kingsnake Ever Recorded
Many of the kingsnakes and their subspecies typically range anywhere from 3 to 4 feet in length. In 2021, at Agoura Hills, Southern California conservation workers identified a California kingsnake that had an estimated measurement of 7 feet. The snake was seen slithering towards a busy road. This makes it the largest kingsnake ever recorded!
A kingsnake will often be able to mate between the ages of 2 to 4 years. In the wild, they are often hunted by birds and sometimes tarantulas depending on the size of the kingsnake. Even with the threat of becoming prey, this snake is said to live up to 15 years in the wild. Kingsnakes are extremely popular house pets and can live anywhere between 20 to 30 years when held in captivity.
While they can live a long time in captivity, they are a long-term commitment and require proper care to thrive as a household pet. This means an adequate diet and enclosure. In fact, the most popular kingsnake that is kept as a household pet is the Mexican Black Kingsnake. This is because they can adapt easily and often become docile with their owners. Not to mention they are simply incredible to look at!
Appearance and Behavior
Almost all kingsnakes are vibrant in color, however, the appearance of kingsnakes often changes depending on their habitat. While a Mexican black kingsnake is pure black with black bellies, a Red kingsnake is red with black and white stripes. The Mexican kingsnake is similar, but the red in their scales can sometimes be darker. Also, their stripes are yellow in color, often confusing them with the poisonous coral snake.
A straightforward way to distinguish the two is to look at the pattern in their scales. A Mexican kingsnake has yellow stripes that are in between two black stripes, while the coral snake has yellow stripes more prominently throughout its body. The temperament of Kingsnakes is usually quiet and skittish, most of them often fleeing at the sight of a threat. In fact, there are several types of kingsnakes that often play dead when threatened!
Kingsnakes are quite common in North America, often ranging anywhere between the United States and Mexico. You can find this snake and its subspecies almost anywhere in North America, such as mountains, grasslands, rocky areas, and deserts. Some of these snakes can also live in wetter areas like swamps and riverbanks. This is particularly true for the Eastern kingsnake and the Speckled kingsnake. They are primarily terrestrial snakes; however, they can climb and have often proved to be very decent swimmers.
Even though kingsnakes aren’t venomous, they can still eat other venomous snakes. The Common kingsnake is known to be resistant to some venom, often eating rattlesnakes because of this unique ability.
Kingsnakes kill their prey by constriction, often trapping many lizards, rodents, and birds with their little, but strong bodies. The California kingsnake has been known to exert twice the amount of force relative to its body size when constricting its prey. When they constrict, it will lower blood oxygen levels in their prey. The prey will die by asphyxiation before it is swallowed.
Kingsnakes are not typically a threat to humans. This is because they retreat quite often when they feel scared. However, you will know if a kingsnake is aggressive and ready to bite. It warns you through a series of hissing sounds and puffing up of its body. They only fight back if they feel cornered, so make sure to give them space both in the wild and in captivity. Young kingsnakes are more likely to be seen as a source of prey, which is why it is difficult to record their lifespan in the wild.
Kingsnakes are truly fascinating snakes. Their striking appearance is just one reason why they are known to be popular house pets. Kingsnakes are not endangered in North America, however, some of the subspecies are decreasing in population over time. The Todos Santos Island kingsnake however is said to be critically endangered. Scientists in Florida are also concerned about the conservation of Eastern kingsnakes due to their decreasing numbers in the population.
Thankfully in some states such as Georgia, these amazing animals are protected under Conservation Acts. If you ever see one of these snakes while you’re out, give them space and allow them to continue with their day!
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