eastern kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula)


Distribution Map

Distribution Map


This is a large snake that grows to lengths of 36-48 in. (90-122 cm). It is a shiny black snake with series of thin, white to cream crossbars or spots on the back. The belly is covered with alternating black and white patches. Juveniles are patterned like adults. Mating presumably takes place in the spring. Known egg laying dates in Virginia are between 16 and 22 June. Clutch size is 9-17. The kingsnake may discharge musk from glands at the base of the tail and vibrate its tail when disturbed. It may also coil itself into a ball and hide its head in the coil. This species is terrestrial, and is most often found under surface objects, such as boards, logs, tar paper, and car hoods. Kingsnakes are diurnal, but are occasionally found on roads at dusk.


This snake is widespread in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont of Virginia. It also occurs in the Potomac River drainage in northern Virginia west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are no records for this species in the New River drainage. It inhabits a variety of different habitats, including hardwood forest, mixed pine-hardwood forest, pine forest, abandoned fields, margins of hardwood swamps and freshwater marshes, and along creeks and streams.


The following prey have been recorded for Virginia specimens: eastern gartersnake, northern watersnake, ringneck snake, smooth earthsnake, wormsnake, eastern five-lined skink, and white-footed mouse.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).