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mole kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata)

Photos

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

This is a smooth, shiny snake that grows to lengths of 30-40 in. (76-102 cm). The adult is yellowish to olive-brown with small reddish-brown blotches down the back, alternating with smaller blotches on the sides. Each blotch has a narrow black border. The belly is yellowish-brown with indistinct brown spots. The juvenile is similar to the adult but the blotches are dark-edged and more vivid on young snakes, becoming indistinct with age. Older individuals may be a solid brown color. The females are oviparous and deposit 10-12 eggs. The eggs adhere to each other in clusters and hatch in the late summer. Mating probably takes place in spring and fall, although no records have been recorded in the literature. This species is subterranean and nocturnal. This species is usually seen when it is plowed up on farmland, after heavy rains, or at night when crossing a road. Although it can burrow into sandy and loamy soils, it probably uses rodent burrows and rotting tree root passageways when available.

Distribution

This species occurs in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions of Virginia. It enters the Blue Ridge Province in the Roanoke River Valley but apparently does not occur west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has not been found in southeastern Virginia east of Southampton Co. or on the Eastern Shore. This is a burrowing snake that inhabits mixed pine-hardwood forests, pine forests, abandoned fields, and farm fields, especially areas with well-drained and sandy soils.

Foods

The major foods for this species include mice, snakes and lizards. They will also take small frogs and toads, moles and shrews, and grasshoppers.

More Information

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