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Black Kingsnake
Lampropeltis getula niger

Size:
  • Hatchling: 7 - 8 in.
  • Adult: 36 - 48 in.(normal)

Scalation:
  • Dorsal: 21 rows
  • Ventral: 198 - 217
  • Sub caudal: 39 - 55
  • Infra labial:9 - 10
  • Supra labial: 7
  • Anal Plate: Single

Photo by Troy Hibbitts
click to enlarge
Written By John Cherry
Coloration
Head:
Normally is black with varying degrees of white or yellow speckling.

Dorsal:
This animal is a dark colored animal that has been described as a poorly marked speckled or desert king. As the name implies it is sometimes entirely black, but most individuals display varying amounts of vague speckling to individuals that display a evident but poorly defined series of very narrow chain-like dorsal crossbars.

Ventral:
Normally is about a 50 % split of white and black with no patter.

Range:
Ohio, Illinois, Alabama through portions of Georgia.

Habitat:
This is a species that is very adaptable and frequents areas such as cultivated fields, lightly wooded areas and generally any other habitat that has good ground cover and habitat for prey animals.

Prey:
In captivity these animals fair very well on a diet of lab. raised mice. Juveniles normally take pink mice easily. They are generally aggressive feeders that are easy to start. In the wild they feed on lizards, snakes, birds and rodents.

Behavior:
This is a variable species that does well in captivity. It is can be somewhat aggressive when first taken from the wild( musking and sometimes biting ), this normally subsides after a short period of time in captivity with handling.

Breeding:
Breeding in captivity is achieved in the same manner as with most colubrids using the following as a guideline. Towards the middle of October cease feeding totally, allowing at least 2 -3 weeks at normal temperature for clearing of the gut. Then gradually reduce the ambient tempeture inside the cage to the upper 50's/low 60's and maintain for a period of 3 months. Be sure and provide clean water and systematically check animals for general condition and welfare during this period.

After brumation and the animals are brought back up to optimum temperature of 78 82 degrees, feeding should resume for approx. three weeks and the pair should be placed together under supervision for short periods of time until copulation can be confirmed. An egg laying chamber partially filled with damp vermiculite or sphagnum moss is helpful. Eggs should be removed immediately after laying and placed in damp vermiculite for the incubation period of 58 - 66 days at temperatures of 80 - 83 degrees

Literature Cited:

Stebbins,Robert C. 1985 second editition revised. A field guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Company

Cherry, John   Cindy Field & Breeding Notes


Cheatham County, Tennessee
Gallery Photo by Zane Williams
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Hatchling
Gallery Photo by SDeFriez
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Northern Alabama
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