California Kingsnake

California Kingsnakes are a non-venomous species of snake native to Western and Southern North America. They can be found as far south as Mexico, in habitats as varied as mountain ranges, marshes, deserts and more urban areas. They are a fairly docile species, making them a popular choice for more experienced pet owners. 

Appearance

In the wild, the typical appearance of a California Kingsnake can vary. Typically, they are a dark blackish blue color, with white or cream stripe patterns along the length of their body. However, in some areas of North America, California Kingsnakes can be found in a variety of naturally occurring colors and patterns known as "morphs." Examples of this include San Diego County, where snakes have been found with reddish-brown bodies and yellow or tan bands, and Riverside County, where instead of bands or stripes, some kingsnakes feature a dotted pattern along their body. Regardless of morph, these snakes tend to reach an average of two to three feet in length.

Adaptations

California Kingsnakes are well-adapted to survive in a variety of habitats. They have been found at altitudes as high as 7,000 ft, as well as in lush forests and barren deserts. This is largely thanks to their opportunistic feeding habits and ability to choose when they are active based on temperature changes. Kingsnakes in general eat everything from mice to birds and amphibians, but are perhaps most famous for their ability to hunt and eat other snakes, even venomous ones. 

California Kingsnakes are cathemeral, meaning that the time they are active depends on the temperature of their environment. Preferring heat, these snakes will enter a dormancy state called brumation if it is too cold. 

Even More Morphs

While some variations in the colors and patterns of California Kingsnakes occur naturally, many breeders have chosen to selectively breed individuals to produce even more differences. There are now over 50 unique California Kingsnake morphs, ranging from more natural red colors to bright yellow, lavender and more. The state of California has put a restriction on the sale of certain morphs, so any kingsnake purchased should come through a verified breeder with the correct legal permits. 

Where are they?

Our California Kingsnake can be viewed in the Children's Animal Center, behind the large window on the left of the building.

VIEWING TIPS
Kingsley, our snake, spends a lot of her time partly burrowed in her tank's substrate. Be sure to look closely for a flash of blue or white. 

Quick Facts

Scientific Name

Lampropeltis californiae

Species Survival Plan

No

Habitat

Desert, marsh, forest, mountains

Food

small animals, including mice, birds, frogs and other snakes.

Originally Native To

Western United States and Northern Mexico.

Characteristics

Darker brown or blackish body with light-colored bands or stripes along body.

Lifespan

20 to 30 years

Social Behavior

Solitary unless mating.

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