Squamata (Amphisbaenians-legless lizards, lizards and snakes)
HABITAT AND RANGE
Common kingsnakes inhabit a wide range of habitats. They can be found in grassland, forests, marshes, valleys, woodland, farmlands, deserts, chaparral, and river bottoms. Common kingsnakes prefer to remain hidden, and one can often find them under rocks, logs, boards, and dense vegetation. Lampropeltis getulus is found in North America from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast.
Common kingsnakes show great variation in color patterns across the range of the species. There are between 7 and 10 subspecies of common kingsnake, all of which are easily distinguished by their distinct color patterns. Eastern kingsnakes are black with yellow chain markings. Florida kingsnakes are rich brown with yellow speckles covering their scales. California kingsnakes come in black or brown banded versions with white, cream, or yellow alternating bands.
Common kingsnakes are ophiophagous. They use constriction as a means to subdue prey. Common kingsnakes prey upon mammals, small turtles, birds and their eggs, reptile eggs, other harmless snakes, lizards, frogs, rattlesnakes, copperheads, coral snakes and other venomous snakes. They have special enzymes that break down snake venom before it can be harmful.
REPRODUCTION AND LIFESPAN
Common kingsnakes are egg layers. Females lay between 2 and 24 eggs between May and August. The eggs measure 18 to 30 mm by 35 to 69 mm. The incubation period is from 47 to 81 days. Hatchlings are usually 8 to 13 inches in length. Common kingsnakes become sexually mature at 3 to 4 years of age. Lifespan is 20-25 years.
Common kingsnakes are diurnal, and they are occasionally active at night. Most of them are terrestrial, but they will climb low branches and shrubs. Common kingsnakes are well suited for life on the ground, but they are good climbers, and excellent swimmers. When disturbed, California kingsnakes often musk. They will also smear an aggressor with fecal matter when handled. In addition, some common kingsnakes have been reported to roll into a ball when disturbed.