Lampropeltis getula californiae - California Kingsnake
Considered harmless to humans.
Adult Lampropeltis getula are 30 - 85 inches ( 76 - 216 cm). California Kingsnakes do not reach that size, seldom exceeding 48 inches. Most commonly found at 2.5 - 3.5 feet in length. Hatchlings are about 12 inches long.
Smooth, shiny, unkeeled scales. The head is barely wider than the neck. Highly variable in appearance. Most commonly seen with alternating bands of black or brown and white or light yellow, including the underside, where the light bands become wider. A striped phase with a white or light yellow stripe on the back occurs in coastal southern California. An unbanded phase with a dark belly and lateral striping occurs in the northern San Joaquin Valley and southern Sacramento Valley. A dark banded phase with a dark underside occurs in coastal Los Angeles County, some with a high number of bands. A desert phase occurs with dark black bands and narrow bright white bands. Some variants have much dark speckling in the light bands, others with much light speckling in the dark bands.
Active during daylight in cooler weather and at night, dawn, and dusk when temperatures are high. When disturbed, generally not aggressive, but sometimes vibrates the tail quickly, hisses, and rolls into a ball, hiding the head and showing the vent with it's lining exposed. A powerful constrictor, coiling tightly around its prey. Immune to rattlesnake venom. A popular pet snake. Many unusual color phases have been bred, including albinos.
Eats a wide variety of prey, including rodents and other small mammals, lizards, snakes (including rattlesnakes) turtle eggs and hatchlings, frogs, salamanders, birds eggs and chicks, and large invertebrates.
Lays eggs May through August.
This subspecies, Lampropeltis getula californiae - California Kingsnake, is found throughout California, except the damp redwood zone of the extreme northwest coast, the northeast great basin desert, and high elevations in the Sierra Nevada and other mountain ranges. Outside of the state, it occurs in southwestern Oregon, southern Nevada, southern Utah, southwestern Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, much of Arizona, and in Mexico in Sonora and Baja California.
An introduced population occurs on Gran Canaria Island in the Canary Islands, where there are no native snakes.
The species Lampropeltis getula - Common Kingsnake, occurs in a very wide range, from the Pacific Coast, to Florida, including most of the southern part of the U. S., south into Mexico.
Found in a wide variety of habitats - forest, woodland, chaparral, grassland, marshes, farmland, ranches, deserts, and even brushy suburban areas.