California Kingsnake

CA king-snake-LC1111-8 - Sarah Erb Parnell

Lampropeltis getula californiae

Kingsnakes vary in color and pattern but usually have noticeable bands or stripes.  Color variations include black with creamy yellow bands, brown with yellow bands, black with a white vertical stripe, brown with yellow stripe, and speckled patterns.

A kingsnake will hiss, shake its tail, or strike when threatened.  It may also curl into a ball with its head at the center and emit a bad odor through their vent (the opening from which they excrete fecal matter).  They are neither venomous nor aggressive but might bite if surprised or threatened.

King of snakes
Kingsnakes will eat other snakes, even rattlesnakes, killing them by biting around the head and constricting.

We have three kingsnakes living at the museum, all of which are former pets.  Wild snakes that have been taken as pets should not be released because they have lost their “home” to another snake.  Kingsnakes have home territories and defend them against other snakes.  All of our snakes live behind the scenes, but you might encounter one during a school program, class, public presentation, scout tour, or even a birthday party!