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.
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.
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.
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.
There are no major threats facing Prairie kingsnakes at present.
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.