Discover the Largest Kingsnake Ever Recorded!

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Updated: February 16, 2023
© Matt Jeppson/
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Key Points

  • Kingsnakes are members of the genus Lampropeltis. There are 26 species and 45 subspecies.
  • Many of the kingsnakes and their subspecies typically range anywhere from three to four in length.
  • In 2021, in Southern California, conservation workers identified a California kingsnake that had an estimated measurement of seven feet long!
desert kingsnake
Desert kingsnakes average 3-4 feet in length.

©Jon Bolton/

The kingsnake is a part of the colubrid New World and is of the Lampropeltis genus. The Kingsnake has 45 subspecies, 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

A California kingsnake on a white background
The largest kingsnake recorded was a California kingsnake measured to be 7 feet long!


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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!

Is It Normal for a Kingsnake to Be This Big?

No! Kingsnakes are usually three or four feet long and reach a maximum length of five feet. That makes this seven-foot-long California kingsnake even more amazing!

Kingsnakes can be found in a wide range of sizes, colors, and patterns. Their length typically ranges from 24 inches to 60 inches. They come in many different shades, from muted browns to black, white, red, yellows, grays, and lavenders. These colorations are usually organized into rings, longitudinal stripes, speckles, or saddle-shaped bands that give them unique appearances. Kingsnakes also have a variety of head shapes, including triangular with pointed snouts or round heads with blunt snouts, depending on the species.

About Kingsnakes

Eastern Kingsnake
Kingsnakes can live for up to 15 years in the wild, and even longer if well cared for in captivity.


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!


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.

Camping in New Mexico
There is free camping in Lincoln National Forest. You can find kingsnakes and its subspecies almost anywhere in North America.

©Tim Malek/

Where Do Kingsnakes Live?

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.

How Long Do Kingsnakes Live?

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!

Is It Normal For Kingsnakes To Attack Humans?

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.

Kingsnake vs. Rattlesnake: The Differences

There are a few major differences between kingsnakes and rattlesnakes. For one, kingsnakes are non-venomous and relatively harmless snakes found in dry deserts or humid forests, depending on the specific species. On contrast, rattlesnakes are venomous, known for their distinctive rattling tail, and they prefer hot and dry desert climates.

Because they are non-venomous, kingsnakes must use constriction in order to kill their prey. Rattlesnakes have the advantage over kingsnakes in that they can use their powerful venom to incapacitate their meals.

Read more about it here: Kingsnake vs Rattlesnake: 6 Key Differences

In Conclusion

Eastern Black Kingsnake
Eastern kingsnake is also known as the common kingsnake.

©Mike Wilhelm/

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 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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The Featured Image

Speckled Kingsnake, Lampropeltis holbrooki, has sleek black scales speckled with yellow-white.
Speckled Kingsnake, Lampropeltis holbrooki, has sleek black scales speckled with yellow-white.
© Matt Jeppson/

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About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.

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