Longevity Records for the
Gray-banded Kingsnake,
Lampropeltis alterna

Written by Gerry Salmon
First published in Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society - July 1997:

Longevity records for captive snakes have been compiled by Bowler (1977), Snider and Bowler (1992), and Slavens and Slavens (1997). To date, published information on longevity for the gray-banded kingsnake, Lampropeltis alterna, gives records of 15 years, 6 months (Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington) and 14 years, 4 months at the Baltimore Zoo, Maryland (Slavens and Slavens, 1997). Both specimens are deceased. Here we report longevity data on four specimens of this species which exceeds that given in previous reports.

One female L. alterna was collected near Langtry, Val Verde County, Texas in early June 1973 and received by one of us (BWT) later in that month. This specimen is shown in Figure 4 in Murphy et. al. (1978) and was part of a successful breeding program for a number of years (Tyron and Murphy, 1982). It was transferred to the Knoxville Zoo, Tennessee in 1985, and was euthanized due to severely declining health on 23 February 1993. Actual time in captivity was 19 years, 7 months, but because this snake was collected as an adult, actual age was well over 20 years.

A male specimen was hatched in captivity in the above breeding group in September 1979 and was transferred to the Wildlife Conservation Park/Bronx Zoo on 25 April 1980 (WCS Herpetology number 800090). It was later transferred to one of us (GTS) in March 1990 and is alive at the time of this writing. Age as of 1 July 1997 was 17 years, 10 months.

A male was collected on 18 June 1978 at California Mountain (Pepper’s Hill) in Southern Brewster County, Texas and has been maintained to date in one collection (GPM). Time in captivity as of 1 July 1997 was 19 years, 0 months. Because this specimen was a young adult when collected, actual age is over 20 years.

An additional male specimen was collected 7 km N Comstock, Val Verde County, Texas on 14 July 1977 and received by one of us (BWT) in September of that year. It was transferred to the Knoxville Zoo, Tennessee in 1985 where it has been maintained since that time. Time in captivity as of 1 July 1997 was 19 years, 11 months. Based on its size at the time of collection, it is estimated that it hatched in late summer or fall 1976, thus actual age is over 20 years.

Submitted by Gerard T. Salmon and William F. Holmstrom, Jr. , Wildlife Conservation Park/Bronx Zoo, 185th Street and Southern Blvd., Bronx, New York 10460-1099, USA; Bern W. Tryon, Knoxville Zoological Gardens, PO Box 6040, Knoxville, Tennessee 37914, USA and Gerold P. Merker, 30 Rancho Del Sol, Camino, California 95709, USA.


Bowler, Kevin J. (1977) Longevity of reptiles and amphibians in North American collections as of 1 November, 1975. S.S.A.R. Herpetol. Circ. (6): 32 pp.

Murphy, J. B., B. W. Tyron, and B. J. Brecke. 1978. An inventory of reproduction and social behavior in captive gray-banded kingsnakes, Lampropeltis mexicana alterna (Brown). Herpetologica 34: 84-93.

Slavens, Frank and Kate Slavens (1997). Reptiles and Amphibians in Captivity, Breeding - Longevity and Inventory, Current January 1, 1996. Slaveware, Seattle, Wa.

Snider, A. T., and J. K. Bowler. 1992. Longevity of reptiles and amphibians in North American collections. 2nd ed. S.S.A.R. Herpetol. Circ. (21): 40 pp.

Tryon, B.W. & J. B. Murphy (1982): Miscellaneous notes on the reproductive biology of reptiles. 5. Thirteen varieties of the Genus Lampropeltis, Species mexicana, triangulum and zonata. Trans Kansas Acad. Sci., 85 (2): 96–119.


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