California Kingsnake

Scientific Name: Lampropeltis Getula Californiae

California Kingsnake

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The Lampropeltis getula californiae, commonly referred to as the California Kingsnake, has its origins in the desert, though is adaptable to a variety of habitats, especially riversides, forests, farmland and woodland.

The California Kingsnake proudly displays a characteristic color of black, with distinct transverse bands, though some varieties exhibit yellow bands. This contrast in color gives this snake unrivalled elegance, especially at dusk and dawn. Its checkered stomach and pitch-black eyes further accentuates the elegance of this reptile. Most varieties in captivity lack the bands and instead have a full-length, light mid dorsal stripe, roughly two scales wide. The melanistic variants grow to a solid black hue. Some varieties appear blotched, spotted or marbles. They have glossy smooth scales and light colored snouts.

On reaching adulthood, it measures an impressive length of six meters with lesser ones measuring 4 meters. This takes about three to four years, a fact made even greater considering they measure a mere ten inches. It gets the name King from its tendency to feed on other snakes, including venomous ones like the feared rattlesnake. The toxicity of the venom from other snakes has little effect on them. Only an unusually high level of venom can incapacitate them. Nature provides the California Kingsnake with a menu of frogs, lizards, mice and rats.

California Kingsnakes Are Beautiful Creatures

California Kingsnake

Facts About California Kingsnakes

Geographic Location

This nocturnal snake primarily colonizes the southwestern area of the United States from California, all the way to Arizona.


This snake thrives in areas of low humidity. High humidity leads to adverse respiratory problems. They prefer a temperature scale ranging from 70 degrees F on the cooler end to 90 degrees F on the warmer. They have a life expectancy of between 15 and 20 years.


This snake can be a great pet and is extremely docile.


The reproduction of this species of snake is a very interesting issue. Even though the shape of the tail usually serves as a good pointer in determining the sex of an adult snake, a more decisive mode is through probing. Popping is the best way of sexing hatchlings, by which caregivers manually evert the hemipenes. Only skilled personnel should carry out these processes as malpractice often leads to severe injury and in some cases, death. Most specimens require hibernation (brumation) for effective breeding, though some reproduce under normal conditions. Clutches typically consist of 10-15 eggs. In isolated cases, clutches have up to twenty eggs. The brumation periods lasts from 55 days to a cap of 60, with temperatures averaging 81F.


In captivity, the diet of most adult California Kingsnake consists of mice while hatchlings feed on newborn mice (pinkie mice), every five to seven days. Two mice will suffice over the period of a fortnight, regardless of how big the snake may be. These snakes are easy to handle, as they do not bite. Nevertheless, it is prudent to do so with clean hands, especially after holding what these snakes consider potential food. Their sharp olfactory senses will lead them to thinking of their handlers hand as food and strike accordingly. It is not a problem with hatchlings and young snakes, but adults draw blood. Under the titles discussed, the California Kingsnake is a magnificent species of snake.

California Kingsnake
Snakes can’t bite food so they have to swallow it whole.