Lampropeltis getula holbrooki - Speckled Kingsnake
It is found in the central to southern United States from southern Iowa to the Gulf of Mexico. Its range overlaps that of the desert kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula splendida, and it is known to intergrade with that subspecies.
They prefer wetter habitats than other kingsnakes, like swamps and rivers, but they do commonly venture to dry areas like woodlands and grassy feilds.
Close-up head of an adult near Natchez, Mississippi
Speckled kingsnakes grow up to 48 inches (120 cm). Their common name is derived from their pattern, which is black, with small yellow-white specks on almost every scale. They are also known as the 'salt and pepper' snake.
Their diet consists of mammals, birds, rodents, frogs, lizards and other snakes. They kill by constriction.
When threatened, the speckled kingsnake will shake its tail like a rattlesnake to deter predators. They frequently musk and defecate or bite when threatened.
They are usually docile and will often strike just one or two times after capture and are frequently kept as pets. They are commonly captive bred.
The speckled kingsnake is listed as a threatened species in the state of Iowa.
This snake was first described by Holbrook in 1842. At that time he called it Coronella sayi under the mistaken impression that it was the species previously described by Schlegel as Coluber sayi. In 1902 Stejneger pointed out that because Coluber sayi is a different snake (Pituophis catenifer sayi), the name sayi could not be applied to this snake. Therefore, he proposed the name Lampropeltis holbrooki, honoring Holbrook. It is currently considered a subspecies of L. getula.