California Kingsnake

California Kingsnake

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Lampropeltis californiae
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
30-40 yrs
LENGTH
27-76 cm

The California kingsnake is a nonvenomous snake endemic to the western United States and northern Mexico. Due to ease of care and a wide range of color variations, the California kingsnake is one of the most popular snakes in captivity. These snakes are usually dark brown or black in color with whitish-yellow bands. The "king" in their name refers to their propensity to hunt and eat other snakes, including venomous rattlesnakes, that are commonly indigenous to their natural habitat.

Distribution

California kingsnakes are widespread along the West Coast of North America, including the Tehachapi Mountains and the southeastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. These snakes live in Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and northwestern Mexico. They live in a wide variety of habitats, including woodland chaparral, grassland, deserts, marshes, river bottoms, and even suburban areas.

Geography

Continents

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

California kingsnakes are primarily diurnal but may become increasingly nocturnal during periods of particularly hot weather. They are mostly terrestrial but may climb low branches and shrubs. They are generally solitary except when they hibernate during cold weather. In the winter, they retreat underground and enter a hibernation-like state called brumation. When disturbed, California kingsnakes will often coil their bodies to hide their heads, hiss, and rattle their tails, which can produce a sound somewhat resembling that of a rattlesnake. They are considered harmless to humans, but if handled it is common for this species to bite, as well as excrete musk and fecal contents from their cloaca.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

California kingsnakes are carnivores and common food items include rodents, birds and their eggs, other reptiles and amphibians.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
spring
INCUBATION PERIOD
40-65 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
at birth
FEMALE NAME
female
MALE NAME
male
BABY NAME
snakelet
BABY CARRYING
5-12 eggs

California kingsnakes are oviparous animals, meaning they lay eggs. Their breeding season begins in the spring; during this time the males compete for available females. Eggs are laid between May and August, which is generally 42-63 days after mating; in preparation, the female will have chosen a suitable location. The typical clutch size is 5 to 12 eggs with an average of 9, though clutches of 20 or more eggs are known. The hatchlings usually emerge after 40-65 days and are approximately 8 to 13 inches (20 to 33 cm) in length. Newborn snakes are completely independent at birth and reach reproductive maturity when they are 3-4 years old.

Population

Population threats

There are no major threats to California kingsnakes at present.

Population number

According to IUCN, California kingsnakes are locally common and widespread throughout their range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Ecological niche

California kingsnakes play a very important ecological role in their environment as they help to control populations of their prey species.

Domestication

The California kingsnake is one of the most popular pet reptiles due to its ease of care, attractive appearance, and docile demeanor. Due to natural color and pattern variability between individual snakes, snake enthusiasts have selectively bred for a variety of color patterns and morphs. Dozens of color variations are sold today in the pet trade.

DOMESTICATION STATUS Semi-domesticated

References

1. California Kingsnake on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_kingsnake
2. California Kingsnake on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/67662524/67662576

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