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Saint Helena Mountain Kingsnake
Lampropettis zonata zonata

  • Hatchling: 8 - 10 in.
  • Adult: 24 - 40 in.(normal)

  • Dorsal: 23 rows
  • Ventral: 206 - 218
  • Sub caudal: 46 - 52
  • Infra labial: 9
  • Supra labial: 7
  • Anal Plate: Single

click to enlarge
Written by Paul Lynum
Basically a all black head with some little specks of white sometimes present.

Generally a "faded" orange. A good amount of these snakes take on a washed out look. Some though can have a brilliant orange. Black crossovers can be high. Average black crossovers on the body is about 40%. Triad count ranges from 18-32 (Average 27).

Triads do seem to go around the body completely with some extra black and white spots mixed in the orange base color.

Found north of San Francisco near the coast in Lake, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Napa counties California. This is the least known of all zonata to the herpetological community. In extreme Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, this snake intergrades with the Sierra Mountain Kingsnake. Studies are now underway and new sub-species may soon to be described in these areas.

On and near Mount Saint Helena this snake is associated with volcanic rock and closed-cone pine forest. Same would be said for snakes from Jackson County, Oregon. In Washington South facing rocky hills in pine- oak forest are preferred where the snakes are most commonly found in small talus slides.

In the wild these snakes just like all of the sub-species for zonata are lizard eaters. Western skinks and Western Fench lizards being the main diet. In captivity adults will readily feed on lab mice. Offspring can be difficult to eat pinky mice. Simply scent a pinky with a lizard. If this does not work, try hibernation for a couple of months and then repeat. They should come around by then.

A secretive snake restricted to granite rock outcroppings and riparian canyon bottoms. Emerges from hibernation sometime in March, spending most of their time under rocks and surface objects for the first few weeks. As the temperature gets warmer in the following weeks, they retreat back underground until the next spring. Their activity period on ground is very limited. Though they are occasionally found during the summer while crossing roads after dark. Newborn hatchlings are sometimes found in the fall.

In the wild breeding occurs from the end of April till the middle of June. Eggs are laid sometime in July and August hatching in September and October. In captivity I have had my success by the doing the following. In the beginning of October shutting of all food. I keep the temperature about 82 F. Keeping them warm will help the digestive track clean out. About the first or second week in November I drop the temperature 5 degrees everyday until 50 F is reached. During this period the snakes will be kept in complete darkness. February 15 and the lights come back on and the temperature is brought up 5 degrees a day till 75 F is met. The males are fed one mouse a week and depending on size of the females, feed 2-3 mice a week. I put the female in with the male at the end of March. The females usually show signs of eggs a few weeks later. I put in a nest box after a pre-egg laying shed. After a clutch of 3-9 eggs(5 average) have been dropped, put them in a plastic shoebox with moist vermiculite. Eggs should be kept at about 80-85 F. Hatching takes about 60-80 days. When the female has finished laying her eggs, feed her 4-6 mice a week until she is back to her normal self. Do not get her too obese.

Literature Cited:
Goin, Coleman J. and Goin, Olive B. 1962 Introduction to Herpetology. W.H.Freeman and Company

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

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