prairie kingsnake title.gif (10455 bytes)

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prarieking1.jpg (18771 bytes)   Bienville Parish, La.  Photo: Theron Magers

prarieking2.jpg (24338 bytes)  Red River Parish, La.  Photo: Theron Magers

Common name: Prairie kingsnake
Generic name: Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Harlan, 1827)
Adult length: 30 - 42 inches
Complete range: Indiana westward to Nebraska, south to e. Texas and w. Louisiana
see RANGE MAP for range in Louisiana

The prairie kingsnake is very variable in coloration.  The photos above are just two examples of  common prairie kings.  Some can be so dark that the pattern is barely visible. 

The prairie kingsnake is one of two subspecies of calligaster; the other species is the mole kingsnake (L. c. rhombomaculata) to the east.  In Louisiana, the prairie kingsnake is found west of the Mississippi River.  It is usually not found near the gulf coast in marshy areas or along the Mississippi river.   These small constrictors eat rodents, birds, snakes and lizards. (They are powerful constrictors that eat primarily skinks and other lizards as hatchlings and small rodents as adults.)

The prairie kingsnakes are not seen as frequently as speckled kingsnakes.  This is probably due to their more fossorial habits.  Although they may spend a lot of time underground, they can be abundant in some areas: prefering prairie, old fields, cultivated fields, and some wooded areas.  Most captive hatched individuals take to pinkies.

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State Checklist | Herping in LA | Links | Authors | State Maps