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Gray-banded Kingsnake
Lampropeltis alterna

Size:
  • Hatchling: 7 - 12 in.
  • Adult: 28 - 36 in.(normal)
    57.75 in.(record - Edwards County, Tx.)

Scalation:
  • Dorsal: 25 rows near midbody
  • Ventral: 210 - 232
  • Sub caudal: 56-62
  • Infra labial:10
  • Supra labial: 6 - 8
  • Anal Plate: Single

Val Verde County "Blairs" Morph
Photo by Dan Johnson - click to enlarge

Written by Joe Forks

Coloration:

  • Head:

  • Gray-bands have a well define head with large protuberant eyes. Usually a post-ocular stripe is evident, although it is greatly reduced in some alterna morph specimens. Head color ranges from black tipped, or speckled, to nearly black, or rarely entirely gray.

  • Dorsal:

  • L. alterna is a highly variable species that sometimes boasts outrageous combinations of bizarre patterned and brilliantly colored specimens. Despite the fact that some animals are clearly intermediate between the "Blair" and "Alterna" morphs, this terminology is still used to describe these reptiles because the variations of color and pattern can be so dramatic that they defy descriptions of any other generalized form. "Blairi" or the wide banded morph refers to the form with large orange saddles and relatively few or no alternate markings, and "alterna" morph refers to the form with reduced primary markings that may or may not be split with orange or red and usually accompanied by alternate markings. "Dark" or "light" phase refers to the general tone of the ground color, which is a highly variable shade of gray.

  • Ventral:

  • Ventral patterns are equally variable ranging from no pattern (almost white) to almost entirely black, or mottled black and white.

Behavior:

    Primarily nocturnal, Gray-bands are rarely seen abroad during daylight hours except preceding thunderstorms and near dawn or dusk.

    Brumation occurs from November to March with no recorded activity for these months. From mid to late April the populations residing in the lower elevations of Brewster, Presidio and Val Verde counties become active. May and June are considered the best months to try to capture a Gray-band because it is during their annual spring and early summer breeding odyssey. Reproductive males are often found out foraging and are considered to be more active at this time of year.

    During the summer months (July and August) L.alterna’s activity patterns are usually associated with the rainfall. When drought or dry weather persist, L.alterna and other species may retreat to their catacombed underground quarters and above ground activity limited to avoid dehydration.

Breeding:

    A winter dormancy period is required prior to breeding. This dormancy period is often referred to as hibernation or brumation. It is a 10 - 12 week period in which the room temperature is allowed to drop to a constant 55F.

    Two weeks prior to the cooling period, it is important to cease feeding and allow snakes to pass all material from their digestive tracts. Clean fresh drinking water should be available at all times. Brumating snakes should be checked regularly for signs of respiratory infections, weight loss and other negative symptoms. Animals that show signs of stress during this period should be removed from hibernation, warmed up and treated accordingly. They may be reintroduced to brumation when their symptoms disappear if time allows.

    Breeding may occur anywhere from three to twelve weeks after emergence. The females are placed into the males cage for breeding. Ovulation in females usually occurs after shedding and is evident by a posterior tightness or swelling. Ovulating females are usually greeted rapidly and enthusiastically by males ready to court. Courtship activities can be instigated in non-willing males by placing another male of similar size into the same cage. Combat behavior usually follows immediately.

    Four to thirteen eggs may be produced in as little as 30 days after breeding. Gravid females will go through a pre-partum shed about eight to ten days prior to laying. A nest box containing moist sphagnum moss should be introduced to the cage before the female enters this shed cycle. It is not a bad idea to remove the water bowl immediatly after the pre-partum shed so that the eggs are not deposited in it. Clean fresh water must be reintroduced immediatly after egg deposition as the females are usually dehydrated and will head straight for water after laying.

    The eggs are incubated in medium of vermiculite and water mixed at a 1:1 ratio by weight. The eggs are partially buried under the vermiculite and incubated at 80 - 82F. 100% humidity should be maintained throughout the 60 - 80 day incubation period.

Range:

    L. alterna are found in rocky environments throughout the Chihuahuan Desert from in the vicinity of San Juan del Rio in Durango, Mexico, north to Eddy County in extreme southern New Mexico. In Texas it ranges from Edwards County near Rocksprings, west to the eastern edge of El Paso County in the Hueco Mountains.

Habitat:

    Rocky canyons and arroyos, limestone ridges, talus slopes and boulder piles are preferred, although specimens are occasionally found in desert flats.

Prey:

    L. alterna feeds primarily on lizards and rodents, although lizard eggs, snake eggs and the Canyon Tree Frog Hyla arenicolor have also been reported as prey. Ophiophagy, common in Lampropeltis getula, is rare but has been observed in captive L. alterna.

Loma Alta Locality - Click to Enlarge
Gallery Photo by Mike Russo

Juno Road Locality - Click to Enlarge
Gallery Photo by Tom Anderson

Loma Alta Locality - Click to Enlarge
Gallery Photo by Mike Russo

East Sanderson Locality - Click to Enlarge
Gallery Photo by Keith Carlson

Black Gap Locality - Click to Enlarge
Gallery Photo by Lance Benton

Langtry West Locality - Click to Enlarge
Gallery Photo by Lance Benton

Alpine West Locality - Click to Enlarge
Gallery Photo by Andrew Godambe

Big Hill Locality - Click to Enlarge
Gallery Photo by Andrew Godambe


All images on this site are used with the permission of the photographers and are protected
by copyright. Unauthorized use is prohibited without written consent of the photographer.

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Herp Events

Reptile and amphibian expos, symposiums, zoo and museum exhibitions and other educational events are great places to ask questions, get answers and network with other herp keepers.
Upcoming Reptile and Amphibian Events:
Submit a non-profit event - Purchase a commercial listing

Photo Gallery

Our gallery allows registered users to upload their favorite reptile and amphibian photos to the topic galleries and personal photos to the member galleries. Photos can be used on our forums, classifieds, and Connect, or shared with friends and family.

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snakes
lizards
amphibians
chelonians
crocodilians
venomous

New/Updated

Looking for a reptile or amphibian related business? A reptile store, breeder, importer, maunfacturer or supplier? Our business directory lists some of the most popluar herp businesses in the world.
Locate a reptile or amphibian business by name:
New
 - Northern Rodents
 - Wicked Leos
 - RepStylin
 - Cold Blooded Encounters
 - Captive Bred Excellence
 - Versus Creation
 - Saurian Farms
 - Geckos Galore
 - East Bay Vivarium
 - J.Worlds
Updated
 - Eden Reptiles
 - Trempers Lizard Ranch
 - Pinellas County Reptiles
 - Leopardgecko.com - Ron Trem...
 - Rodentpro.com
 - SerpentsOnline.com
 - ballpython777.com - Mark Pe...
 - Midwest Reptile Shows
 - ARS Caging
 - American Rodent Supply
list your business on kingsnake.com

Connect

kingsnake.com's Connect is a beta project being developed to let the herp community stay in touch with their friends and fellow hobbyists, keep each other up to date on legislative issues as they develop, and to build and strengthen the herp community network. Registered users of kingsnake.com can use it to share photos, links, information, alerts, updates and more.
log in   find connections








Video Gallery

Check out these reptile and amphibian submitted by staff, volunteers, and users of the kingsnake.com community. Our system supports videos hosted on YouTube. If you have a favorite YouTube video, please submit it here.

more videos       submit a video


Recent Gray-banded Kingsnakes Forum Posts
• Rusty, posted by Coach
• Rusty, posted by Coach
• Gbk in texas, posted by exasperatus2002
• How often to feed overweight graybanded?, posted by snakemother
• Hypo Black Gap, posted by slimlv
• Last nights catch, posted by Jcrawford
• Caught east of Sanderson, posted by ShawnLund
• My first grayband catch, posted by oursnakes
• New Website, posted by oursnakes
• incubator question, posted by oursnakes
• 12, posted by mrkent
• SnakeDays Clean Highways Project, posted by tanks
• Herpathon 2014, posted by tanks
• A little off topic, BUT WE NEED YOu, posted by tanks
• Breeding size and age, posted by mrkent
• A Gray-band Story, posted by hemanstarwarrior
• SnakeDays 2014, posted by tanks
• Max Conklin (snakeeyez333), posted by glebw
• Gassing regs purposed, posted by tanks
• Exagerated totals, posted by cyotekd

Recent Gray-banded Kingsnake Classifieds:
- W A N T E D Grey Banded...
- Chrismas Mountain Pair
- Giant yearling Female
- Adult Male Graybanded Ki...
- ASSORTED MALE GREY BANDE...

Site Tools

Manage - manage your user and advertising accounts
Register For A User Account Click Here
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Reset Your Password Click Here
Change Your Email Click Here
Manage Your Banner Account/View Stats Click Here
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Mark Your Business Directory Listing As Updated Click Here
Manage Your Classified Account Click Here
Post A Classified Advertisement Click Here
Remove A Classified Advertisement Click Here
Purchase - advertising and services purchase quick links
Purchase a classified account$20.00-$85.00Click Here
Renew a classified account$20.00-$85.00Click Here
Upgrade to an enhanced classified$ variesClick Here
Purchase a business directory listing$150 a yearClick Here
Purchase a banner advertisement$ variesClick Here
Purchase a standard event listing$100 a listingClick Here
Pay an open invoice Click Here
Contact the sales department Click Here
Support - help, tips, & resources quick links
Classified Account Terms Of Service Click Here
Classified Help Click Here
Classified Tips Click Here
Classified Complaints Click Here
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DBA Search Click Here
Business Name Registration Verification Click Here
Are you registered? To advertise here using a business name you must have your legal business name registration verified. Click here for details on the program or to register your business FREE!

Glossary

Blogs

Reptile News
  - Girl pushes for bill to name Idaho state amphibian
  - Vietnam home to new tree frog species
  - Canadian boy finds 300 million year old fossil
  - UK man finds snake in his shopping bag
  - Excessive rainfall harms tropical leaf litter frogs
  - Are venomous sea snakes overharvested
  - Cambodia home to new legless amphibian
  - Scientists develop more powerful antivenoms
  - Newly discovered frog species gives birth to live tadpo...
  - Radiated tortoises seized in Paris airport
  - Crocodiles and alligators live together in the Keys
  - More...

Jeff Barringer(left) Photo by Gary Miller; used with permission.Jeff Barringer
Publisher - Featured Contributor
Founder of kingsnake.com, Jeff is a veteran breeder and field hobbyist with almost three decades of experience roaming the thorn-scrub of Texas is search of reptiles and amphibians.
  - Texas herp legend Dr James Dixon passes away
  - Building your own tortoise tractor
  - Making your own hide boxes
  - Building ponds for a herp greenhouse part 4
  - Building ponds for a herp greenhouse part 3
  - Building ponds for a herp greenhouse part 2
  - More...

Richard Bartlett (left) Photo by Jake Scott; used with permission.Richard D. Bartlett
Featured Contributor
One of the most prolific writers and photographers on herpetological subjects in the 20th century, Richard spent over four decades documenting reptiles in the field and captivity.
  - Hatchetfaced treefrogs are just right
  - Fun as a barrel of barred monkey frogs
  - Nothing comes between a man and his bush viper
  - Our house survived a spurred tortoise
  - Nose to nose with an alligator in the night
  - Floridas seven wonderful water snakes
  - More...

Tony Jones (left)Tony Jones
Featured Contributor
Tony Jones is a UK based writer and herp professional with field experience ranging from Madagascar, New Zealand, Hungary, The Canaries, Mauritius, Round Island, Africa, and America. .
  - Courier no longer ships reptiles in UK
  - Challenges ahead for the UK reptile hobby
  - More...

Sachin Mamgai (left)Sachin Mamgai
Featured Contributor
A reptile hobbyist and rescuer living in Pune, Maharashtra, India. Sachin began rescuing India's snakes and amphibians when he was 15 and is part of the new generation of reptile hobbyists in India.
  - Indias best wallclimbing snake is also its cutest
  - Winter doesnt make a difference in Malabar pit viper si...
  - New year new viper rescue
  - Snake rescue Indian style
  - More...

Leiren McKenzie (left)Leiren McKenzie
Featured Contributor
At home in the forests and swamps of the southeastern United States, Leiren spends most of her free time looking for herps, when she's not breeding axolotls and other salamanders.
  - A gray rat snake by any other name
  - The superhero salamander who never grows up
  - Stranded softshell gets help
  - A basking buzz tale
  - Ole Velvet Tail A midsummers meeting with a canebrake r...
  - Floridas mild weather makes it snake country in three c...
  - More...

Cindy Steinle (left)Cindy Steinle
Featured Contributor
A volunteer with several organizations including her own herp rescue, Cindy works with a number of local shelters, agencies, and organizations to provide rescue services for her community.
  - The problem with heroes in a halfshell
  - Eaten Alive creates problems for reptile rescuers
  - Is LAs albino cobra domesticated
  - In Memoriam Carl Koch
  - Turtle wrap increased nesting for loggerheads net probl...
  - Whats good for the cat is good for the reptile Lessons ...
  - More...

snake crossing signLegal Updates
News stories, press releases, and updates from the world of reptile and amphibian laws and law enforcement.
  - Will West Virginia turn the tide on antireptile legisla...
  - North Carolina reptile ban hype not reality
  - Update on USARK lawsuit against USFWS
  - Whats going on with West Virginias Dangerous Wild Anima...
  - New York considers protecting snot otters
  - More than 1000 dead sea turtles seized in Vietnam
  - More...

site newsSite News
News, new features, and updates on and about the kingsnake.com web site.
  - Vendor profile system launches in kingsnake classifieds
  - kingsnakecom launches ReptileBusinessGuidecom
  - kingsnakecom launches ReptileShowGuidecom
  - kingsnakecom is Sweet Sixteen time for a party and a sa...
  - Jump into kingsnakecoms banner pool
  - New reptile and amphibian events locator launches
  - More...

Stores

Kingsnake Merch Store
kingsnake.com t-shirts, mugs, hats and other gifts. Click Here!
Shipping Supplies Store
Ship your herps cross-country safely every time. Click Here!
Insulated Shipping Boxes
Non-Insulated Shipping Boxes
Coolers & Ice Chests
Mailing Tubes
Deli Cups
Other Plastic Containers
Cloth Bags
Heat/Cold Packs
Packing Chips/Bubble Wrap
More...

Field Outfitter Store
Gear up for spring and summer in the field. Click Here!
Snake Proof Boots
Snake Chaps & Gaiters
Snake Hooks & Tongs
Snake Bags
Flashlights
Headlamps
Spotlights
Reflective Vests
Handheld GPS
First Aid
More...
Offroad Outfitter Store
Everything you need to chase herps in the wild. Click Here!
Winches
Recovery Gear
Snorkels
Jacks
Jerry Cans
Offroad Lights
Car Audio/Video
12 Volt Inverters
12 Volt Air Compressors
more...

Camera Shop
Pro gear for the discriminating photographer. Click Here!
Nikon Cameras
Canon Cameras
Sony Cameras
Fujifilm Cameras
JVC Cameras
Lenses, Filters & Accessories
Ring and Other Flash Units
Memory Cards
More...
Trade Show Supplies Store
Get your business ready for the next reptile show. Click Here!
Tabletop Displays
Booth Displays
Roll Up Banners
Banner Stands
Custom Vinyl Banners
Acrylic Displays
Shipping Containers
Deli Cups
More...
Reptile & Amphibian Supplies Store
Keep your herps fed, happy, and healthy.Click Here!
Cages
Lighting
Heating
Bedding
Foggers & Misters
Snake Hooks
Tweezers & Hemostats
Live Crickets
Prepared Foods
More...
Reptile & Amphibian Books & DVDs
Care Guides, Field Guides, Videos, & Other MediaClick Here!
Reptile & Amphibian T-Shirts, Gifts, & Apparel
T-Shirts, Hats, Art, Posters, and other gifts. Click Here!

Herp Bios


Charles Darwin

Raymond Ditmars

Marlin Perkins

Some of them are legends known to every school kid in the world. Others are revered mostly by their peers and the scientists and herpers who came after them. They're the world's most renowned and influential herpetologists, herpetoculturists and zoologists, and you can learn more about them and their legacy to the hobby in kingsnake.com's Wikipedia-based index of herper biographies.
Lawrence Klauber
Hobart M. Smith
Steve Irwin

Rescue

Locate a Rescue/Shelter
For multiples use CTRL+mouse click.
Selecting none means 'all'
US
Canada
Breeds
 

Laws


Keeping reptiles and amphibians is often subject to a variety of laws, regulations, and restrictions. These resources are here to help you navigate the sometimes complex issues of herp ownership.

International Agencies - CITES

U.S. Agencies - Center For Disease Control - Fish & Wildlife Service
Dept of Agriculture - Dept of Interior - House of Representatives - Senate

Canada Agencies - Canadian Wildlife Service

UK Agencies - DEFRA - Animal Health

Organizations - AVMA - ARAV - HCU - IRCF - IUCN - NPA - PARC - PIJAC - PIJAC Canada - TRAFFIC - USARK

Related Links - Animal Legal and Hist. Center

Animal Rights Organizations - PETA - HSUS

States/Provinces Database