Common King Snake
Genus/species: Lampropeltis getulus
Common, or Eastern, king snakes are medium-sized snakes reaching three
to six feet (.9 to 1.8 m) in length. Often called 'chain
snakes' or 'chain kings' because of the white chain-like
markings on their body, this snake is easily recognized.
The snake is a shiny black with a criss-cross pattern
of white or yellow lines. The stomach is checkered in
black and yellow. They have smooth scales and a single
Eastern king snakes hide under various objects in their
environment. As a defense they give off a smelly musk when
captured and may bite. They also vibrate the tail when captured
or alarmed; if the snake is in leaves the sound is like that
of a rattle.
Distribution and Habitat:
The eastern king snake range includes southern New Jersey
to West Virginia, south to north Florida, and west to
the Appalachians and southeastern Alabama.
This species is mainly terrestrial, but tends to hang out
around the margins of streams, marshes, and swamps. This
is probably because they tend to feed on water snakes and
turtle eggs. They can also be found in open
fields, forests, and abandoned dwellings.
Diet in the Wild:
They feed on other snakes, small mammals, lizards, birds,
turtle eggs, and frogs. They are a constrictor.
The eastern king snake is fed mice, rats, and chicks.
The eastern king snake mates in the spring and lay eggs mid-summer.
The young hatch in late summer or early fall.
The eastern king snake is not considered threatened or endangered.
Their real claim to fame is the ability to kill and eat other
snakes, including venomous species like cottonmouths and
rattlesnakes. Because of their natural immunity to pit-viper
venom, the bite from a venomous snake has little effect