Scarlet kingsnakes are nonvenomous snakes found in the United States. They are the smallest of all species within their genus. Scarlet snakes are born with white, black, and red banding. As they mature, they develop varying shades of yellow within geographic areas where this is expressed. In addition, the yellowing is not uniform, but rather this pigmentation proceeds from lighter to darker from the lowermost scales upward to the dorsum, or "back", presenting a multiple yellowish bands. The yellow pigmentation varies from lemon to school-bus yellow, to tangerine, to apricot and darkens as adults age.
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Scarlet kingsnakes occur in the southeastern and eastern portions of the United States. They are found in pine flatwoods, hydric hammocks, pine savannas, mesic pine-oak forests, prairies, cultivated fields, and a variety of suburban habitats; not unusually, people find scarlet kingsnakes in their swimming pools, especially during the spring.
Scarlet kingsnakes are secretive, fossorial (living underground)snakes, that lead a solitary life and are infrequently seen by people. They are excellent climbers. They usually hide underneath the loose bark on rotting pines, under the bark on dying or decaying pines and their stumps, and decaying wood. When the night comes, Scarlet snakes come out from their hiding places to hunt. They are not dangerous to humans and prefer to avoid any confrontation with them. If these snakes sense any danger, they will try to flee rather than attack.
Scarlet kingsnakes are polygynandrous (promiscuous) which means that both males and females mate with multiple partners. Their breeding season takes place from March to June. Females lay 4-10 eggs, usually in rotting wood, under logs or may bury them in the soil. Incubation lasts around 40-65 days. Hatchlings range in size from 8 to 18 cm (3.1 to 7.1 in) and completely independent at birth. They become reproductively mature at 3 to 4 years of age.
There are no major threats to Scarlet kingsnakes at present.
According to IUCN, the Scarlet kingsnake is locally common and widespread throughout its 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.
Scarlet kingsnakes are important predators in their ecosystem of small rodents, snakes, frogs, and birds; this way controlling their populations.