Prairie Kingsnake

Prairie Kingsnake

Yellow-bellied kingsnake

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Lampropeltis calligaster
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
15-23 yrs
LENGTH
76-102 cm

The Prairie kingsnake is a nonvenomous species of kingsnake native to North America. It is light brown or grey in color, with dark grey, dark brown, or reddish-brown blotching down the length of their bodies. Some specimens have their markings faded, to appear almost a solid brown color. Juveniles usually have a brown stripe down the back of their bodies. They have two black spots behind the head and smaller black spots down the back on both sides of the stripe.

Distribution

Prairie kingsnakes are found throughout the midwestern and southeastern United States, from Nebraska to Maryland, Florida to Texas. They inhabit open grassland with loose, dry soil, typically on the edge of a forested region, not far from a permanent source of water, in prairies, rocky hillsides, abandoned structures, underneath logs, debris, and inside of tree trunks.

Geography

Continents
Countries

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Prairie kingsnakes are solitary secretive creatures that spend most of the day hiding under rocks, logs, or in abandoned burrows. If disturbed they will shake their tail, which if in dry leaf litter can sound remarkably like a rattlesnake. They are not typically prone to biting, and if handled will often excrete a foul-smelling musk. When threatened, they flatten and appear to have white spots. Prairie kingsnakes typically hunt by day but during summer months they become more active at night. They are constrictors and kill their prey by quickly suffocating it; small prey, however, is usually swallowed whole.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Prairie kingsnakes are carnivores. Their diet consists primarily of rodents, but they will also consume lizards, frogs, and occasionally other snakes.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
starts in spring
INCUBATION PERIOD
7-11 weeks
FEMALE NAME
female
MALE NAME
male
BABY NAME
snakelet
BABY CARRYING
5-18 eggs

Prairie kingsnakes breed in early spring when they emerge from winter dormancy. Females lay 5 to 18 eggs which usually hatch 7-11 weeks later.

Population

Population threats

There are no major threats facing Prairie kingsnakes at present.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Prairie kingsnake total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The genus name of Prairie kingsnakes Lampropeltis comes from Greek and is translated as "shiny shield". This name is given to them in reference to their smooth, enamel-like dorsal scales.
  • The common name of "kingsnake" derives from their habit of preying on other snakes such as rattlesnakes.
  • Prairie kingsnakes are immune from the venom of poisonous snakes and can therefore prey on them.

References

1. Prairie Kingsnake on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lampropeltis_calligaster
2. Prairie Kingsnake on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/63826/12719786

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About