California Kingsnake

California Kingsnake


Eastern and southwestern Oregon, California, southwestern Nevada, southern Utah and western Arizona and into Baja, Mexico.


Highly adaptable; woodlands, coniferous forests, grassland, cultivated fields, tropical scrub, and desert. Often found near streams.


Scientific name means "shiny skin." Scales are smooth. Dorsal pattern is highly variable but frequently consists of dark and light rings.

California Kingsnake

Constrictor but often vibrates tail as "bluff." Hides under logs or stones. If caught, can be vicious, biting and chewing hard, but after adjusting to captivity, usually becomes quite good-tempered. Because of their snake-eating habits, they are often caged separately in captivity. Sometimes rolls into a ball with its head at the center and everts lining of cloaca as "bluff." Chiefly terrestrial but some species climb into trees after birds. Usually crepuscular, but desert species often nocturnal.


Mate from mid-March to early July. Oviparous, laying 6 to 12 eggs in a clutch; incubation period 66 to 83 days. The striped and banded phases often occur within offspring of same clutch of eggs.

Interesting Facts:

Controlling rodents and venomous snakes. In the presence of a king snake a rattler will neither strike nor rattle, but will lay with head low and raise center part of its body in a loop, with which it will strike heavy blows to the king snake.

California Kingsnake
Native Utah Animal
Class: reptiles
Genus: Lampropeltis
Species: getulus californiae
Length: Average 2 1/2 to 6 feet maximum
Average Lifespan: 40
Wild Diet: Cannibalistic, will dine frequently on both venomous and non-venomous snakes. Also eats rodents, lizards, birds, eggs and frogs. They are immune to rattlesnake venom.
Predators: Man and large birds of prey
USFWS Status: Not Listed
CITES Status: Not Listed
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building: Desert Zone

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