scarlet kingsnake

(Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides)


This snake is reddish with yellow and black bands that completely encircle the body; every other band is black. The snout is reddish. The scarlet kingsnake mimics the venomous coral snake, but the scarlet kingsnake’s snout is red and the yellow rings are separated from the red by black. The adult averages 14-20 in. (36-51 cm) in length, with the longest specimen recorded at 27 inches. The female lays 4-12 eggs in rotting wood and beneath rocks and logs in early summer. They are creamy-white and slender and most of the eggs adhere to one another. The eggs usually hatch in 2-2.5 months. This species is secretive, and is adept at working its way beneath bark, logs, and other hiding places. It is seldom seen in the open except at night or after heavy rains.


In Virginia, this subspecies, or similar intergrades with milksnakes, have been found primarily in the southeastern portion of the state, often in or near woodland habitats, especially pine. It also inhabits hillsides, wooded areas, open fields, and stream and river floodplains. It often winters in pine stumps.


Food includes small snakes and lizards, baby mice, small shrews, small birds and their eggs, small fish, insects, and earthworms.