- Scarlet kingsnakes have alternating colors that always go large red patch, small black ring, small yellow ring, small black ring. They resemble the venomous coral snake and the non-venomous scarlet snakes in appearance.
- Sightings of mole kingsnakes in Georgia are rare because they spend most of their time underground.
- Corn snakes can be found anywhere in Georgia, and are popular choices for pets.
The south is home to quite a variety of snakes! As we approach summer, the likelihood of encounters begins to rise, especially in high-snake density areas like the American southeast. Georgia smack dab in the middle of snake territory and has a whopping 46 species of snake across the state! Today, we will take a look at a specific group of snakes known as “kingsnakes.” After reading this, you will be able to identify any kingsnakes that end up in your yard this summer. Since none of these snakes are dangerous, your knowledge may just save a snake’s life!
What Is A Kingsnake?
Kingsnakes are a group of New World snakes that can be found in almost every environment across the United States. All kingsnakes belong to the genus Lampropeltis, of which there are four species and 45 subspecies.
Kingsnakes come in a variety of colors and are truly beautiful members of the reptile family. Since none of them are venomous and a danger to humans, letting a kingsnake live is always the right thing to do. In fact, kingsnakes help keep pest populations down and out of your home!
Kingsnakes get their name from their habit of eating other, more dangerous snakes. They have a natural resistance to dangerous snake venom and regularly eat venomous snakes like rattlesnakes and copperheads. Knowing that, there is truly no reason ever to kill a snake that is so helpful (and beautiful)!
What Kinds Of Kingsnakes Live In Georgia?
There are four native species of kingsnake in Georgia. Although not all of them go by the name “kingsnake,” they all belong to the genus Lampropeltis.
Eastern milksnakes (L. triangulum triangulum) are nonvenomous snakes that grow to around 24-35 inches in length. They can be identified by their gray or tan-colored bodies and tan or brown splotches ringed in black across their backs. Their bellies are white or cream and often have centralized black spots down their length. Part of their scientific name (triangulum) is derived from the triangular or Y-shaped pattern on the back of their head.
Eastern milksnakes can be found in the upper fifth of the state, near the mountains of northern Georgia and into western South Carolina.
Scarlet kingsnakes (L. triangulum elapsoides) are nonvenomous snakes that grow to around 14-20 inches in length. Their beautiful pattern and vibrant colors can identify them. Their alternating colors always go large red patch, small black ring, small yellow ring, small black ring. The pattern repeats down their bodies and is designed to mimic the dangerous coral snake as a visible defense mechanism.
These snakes can resemble coral snakes (venomous) and scarlet snakes (nonvenomous). Coral snakes never have black and red touching, however, and scarlet snakes don’t have the banding that extends to their bellies.
Scarlet kingsnakes can be found across all of Georgia but are most common in the coastal plain, especially around pine forests.
Northern Mole Kingsnake
Northern mole kingsnakes (Lampropeltis calligaster) are nonvenomous snakes that grow to around 30-40 inches in length. They can be identified by their light tan or dark brown bodies and reddish spots down the length of their bodies. The spots are usually elliptical and can be reddish-brown or dark brown. Their bellies are white or cream and have red-gray or brown patterns.
Mole kingsnakes are somewhat rare to see in Georgia as they spend much of their time underground. They are most common across the piedmont regions of the state.
Eastern kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula) are nonvenomous snakes that grow to around 36-48 inches in length. They can be identified by their smooth black scales and thin yellow or cream bands that run the length of their bodies. Their bellies are light black and have a mottled black and white pattern.
Eastern kingsnakes are incredibly widespread across the United States, and they can come in a variety of colorations and patterns. Another subspecies in Georgia, eastern black kingsnakes (L. g. nigra), are also present. These snakes have no yellow or white banding.
Eastern kingsnakes can be found across all of Georgia. Eastern black kingsnakes can be found in the northern, mountainous regions of the state.
Snakes Commonly Misidentified As Kingsnakes
These are a few examples of snakes that could commonly be misidentified as kingsnakes in Georgia.
Coral snakes are venomous snakes that generally grow to a length of 18-30 inches. These snakes are truly beautiful but are quite dangerous. The scarlet kingsnake has a nearly identical pattern to the coral snake and evolved as a form of mimicry defense. Predators would never mess with a coral snake, and scarlet kingsnakes hoped to borrow some of that reputation!
The biggest tell for coral snakes is the coloration. Coral snakes never have black and red rings touching in their patterns, while scarlet kingsnakes do. Still, some coral snakes have a bit of black coloration that can be present on the red patches across their bodies. An additional tell is that coral snakes have an inky black head, whereas scarlet kingsnakes have a red one.
Corn snakes are nonvenomous snakes that can be found across the entirety of Georgia. They come in a variety of quite beautiful morphs, and generally grow to 30-48 inches in length. Most corn snakes are orange, red, brown and tan with white or cream bellies. They often have large saddle spots ringed in black, plus some other smaller spotting across their sides.
Corn snakes are often kept as pets in the animal trade. They are very docile, don’t bite, are low maintenance, and don’t grow very large. They also tolerate being held by humans for long periods of time. And of course, their vast array of color variations, patterns, and morphs make corn snakes very attractive choices among snake lovers.
Scarlet snakes are incredibly similar to coral snakes and scarlet kingsnakes but belong to their genera, Cemophora. They generally grow to 20 inches in length. Scarlet snakes have a similar pattern to scarlet kingsnakes; only their banding doesn’t reach their bellies. As such, their white or cream bellies are usually visible from the sides.
The same patterning rules that apply to scarlet kingsnakes apply to scarlet snakes. Their red bands will always touch black bands, whereas coral snakes don’t have these bands touching. Additionally, scarlet snakes have red heads, while coral snakes have black heads.
They can be found throughout Georgia, but most commonly on the coastal plains.
How Many Kinds of Kingsnakes Inhabit the US?
While only four types of kingsnakes can be found in Georgia, there are 16 types of kingsnakes found in the continental United States. They include:
- Arizona mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana)
- Black kingsnake (Lampropeltis nigra)
- Common kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula)
- California kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae)
- California mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata)
- Desert kingsnake (Lampropeltis splendida)
- Gray-banded kingsnake (Lampropetlis alterna)
- Mexican milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum annulata)
- Prairie kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster)
- Santa Catalina kingsnake (Lampropeltis catalinensis)
- Scarlet kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides)
- Short-tailed kingsnake (Lampropeltis extenuata)
- Central Plains milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum gentilis)
- Speckled kingsnake (Lampropeltis holbrooki)
- Madrean Mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis knoblochi)
- Eastern milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum)
Summary of Kingsnakes in Georgia
Here’s a review of the different types of kingsnakes that reside in the state of Georgia:
|Rank||Type of Kingsnake|
|3||Northern Mole Kingsnake|
Here’s some more articles you can read about kingsnakes:
- Discover the Largest Scarlet Kingsnake Ever Recorded Let’s take a look at the largest scarlet kingsnake on record.
- Are Kingsnakes Poisonous or Dangerous? There’s a good chance you may encounter a kingsnake in the United States. But are they poisonous or dangerous?
- Copperhead vs Kingsnake: How are they different? Learn the distinguishing characteristics between copperhead snakes and kingsnakes.
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