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Kingsnakes & Milk Snakes

All Kingsnakes & Milk Snakes belong to the genus “Lampropeltis”, and are found solely in North & South America as well as in the lower parts of Canada. Of all the species of pet snakes, the Milk Snake and Kingsnake are two of the most popular amongst reptile hobbyists.

Picture of a Kingsnake

Picture of a Kingsnake
Sonora Mt Kingsnake, near Zion National Park, UT

Kingsnake identification can be extremely difficult as slight differences in color and or pattern often describe separate species or subspecies. Currently science describes 8 living species of King and Milk Snakes, with numerous subspecies of each. One of my all time favorites is the Florida KingsnakeLampropeltis getulus floridana”. This species is one of the larger species of King Snake, and can be seen in a dedicated segment of “Florida’s Wild Future”, the Tigerhomes 2nd Educational DVD concentrating on Florida Wildlife. Similar in appearance to the Florida Kingsnake, is the Speckled Kingsnake “Lampropeltis getulus holbrooki”. This snake is also known as the Salt-and-Pepper Kingsnake, and is found primarily in Iowa, Illinois, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Another of my favorites that I have been fortunate to observe in the wild is the Scarlet Kingsnake “Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides". This may just be one of the most beautiful of all the Kingsnakes.

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Picture of a Florida Kingsnake
Florida Kingsnake

Milk Snakes and some of the banded kingsnake species are often confused with the deadly Coral Snake. If you look at Pictures of Kingsnakes next to a Coral Snake Photo you will notice a striking resemblance between the two snakes. As with all snakes, unless you are 110% certain the snake is Non Venomous, you should keep a safe distance as extremely subtle differences in pattern or scale formation can mean life or death. David and I recommend that you call a local Wildlife Officer to have the snake safely and humanly relocated. Remember, all snakes serve a major function in preserving a healthy ecosystem and should NOT be killed unless you or a loved one is in grave, and unavoidable risk of immediate injury or death. Do not kill it thinking you are a hero, doing the World a service, because you are not! Anyhow, appreciate their beauty from afar and call the appropriately licensed wildlife official.

Pet Kingsnakes and pet Milk Snakes as mentioned above are becoming extremely popular. Captive Bred Kingsnakes are showing up in great numbers in reptile shows around the country. These beautiful and in many cases brightly colored snakes seem to come in almost every conceivable color and pattern. Like the Corn Snake or Rat Snake, the Kingsnake is fast becoming a “Designer Snake”. Breeders have become so successful in managing specific genetic traits, that they can almost create a color mutation to match your shoes. This concept of purposely creating various radical “Color Mutations” sickens me as breeders pollute and cross contaminate the genetics of pure species. I personally prefer seeing and enjoying a species, as they were originally designed by nature. On the other hand, any time you see captive breeding of a species, it means there is less reliance on wild caught reptiles supplying the reptile pet industry. Even if breeders are more or less creating color mutations to match their wallpaper.

Baby Kingsnakes are born from eggs and most species look very similar to their adult counterpart. This is also true of Baby Milk Snakes. This concept may seem obvious, but many baby snakes are patterned or colored nothing like the adults. For example, Baby Water Moccasins or Cottonmouths are typically born striped or banded with light colored scales. They look more like the non-venomous Banded Water Snake than their primarily solid brown or black parents.

Although I have discussed snakes as pets in this brief segment on King and Milk Snakes, one should be aware of their local laws. Many species of Kingsnake are protected both locally and Federally. This is one reason David and I highly encourage solely purchasing captive bred reptiles regardless of species. Owning a pet Kingsnake is a big responsibility, but can also be a highly rewarding experience. Caring for a pet reptile is also a great way of teaching a child responsibility and establishing a young interest in wildlife conservation. The key is doing proper species-specific research on the husbandry requirements well in advance of purchasing any animal. It is imperative that you have the knowledge of the reptile’s dietary, habitat, lighting, temperature, caging and veterinary needs before you bring it home. Remember, the larger and more naturalistic the habitat is the healthier the animal in your care will be. Not to mention, the larger the habitat the easier it is to clean and maintain. Snakes, like tigers enjoy their room. Nothing is worse then seeing a captive snake in a tiny box covered in its own waste. If the snake is housed in a large habitat this can be avoided.

David and I both thank you for your ongoing support of the Wildlife Sanctuary! Without you, our “Mission”, to create an awareness and interest in wildlife would be extremely difficult. We encourage you all to visit the Sanctuary’s numerous live Animal Cams, set up in our large, naturalistic White Tiger, Golden Tiger, African Leopard, African Lion, Ruffed Lemur and Ringtail Lemur habitats. Through our world renowned WEB CAMS, the tigerhomes.org Animal Sanctuary is creating a Worldwide fan base and even more importantly, a “Worldwide” interest in wildlife conservation. Thank you!

See also:
  How to Avoid Snake Bites | Poisonous Snake Bites Effects | Snake Venom | Snake Fangs

Other Snakes:

Diamondback Rattlesnake
| King Cobra | Spitting Cobra | Kingsnakes & Milk Snakes

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