speckled kingsnake title.gif (10549 bytes)

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speck1.jpg (38476 bytes)  Southwest LA locality  Photo: KJ Lodrigue, Jr.  

lavendarspeck1.jpg (50973 bytes)  Lavender albino (St. Bernard Parish)  Photo: KJ Lodrigue, Jr.

lavendarspeck2.jpg (73587 bytes)  Lavender albino (St. Bernard Parish)  Photo: KJ Lodrigue, Jr. 

Common name: Speckled kingsnake
Generic name: Lampropeltis getulua holbrooki (Stejneger, 1902)
Adult length: 36 - 48 inches
Complete range: Southwestern Illinois to southern Iowa, south to e. Texas, and east to southwestern Alabama.

The speckled kingsnake is often called the "salt-and-pepper" snake.   This snake is easily recognized by the light spots covering a black body.  The body is almost always solid black and the spots range from yellow-orange through creamy yellow to ivory white.   There are spots on almost every scale.  It is not uncommon for the spots to form thin, light crossbars on the dorsal surface, making the snake look somewhat banded.

The semi-banded specimens are the most common pattern form throughout the range of speckled kingsnakes. Areas around Lake Charles, LA, and Alexandria, LA, tend to produce specimens with the least amount of banding. Animals with little or no banding pattern are often refered to as "multipspeckled."

Although most wild caught speckled kingsnakes will calm down in captivity, this subspecies has a reputation for being more aggressive than others.  From personal experience, about 40% of our wild caught individuals will try to bite and emit a foul smelling musk that you won't soon forget. The other 60% range in attitude from extremely docile to justwiggly when held. With frequent handling, though, most will calm down and make as fine a "pet" as any other kingsnake. However, captive bred pets are strongly recommended over wild collected ones.

Speckled kingsnakes are well respected by most of the rural folks.  Most of them are well aware of their appetite for rodents, although they unknowingly think that they primarily seek out and eat predominately venomous snakes.  They DO eat venomous snakes but only as opportunistic feeders. They eat what is available to them, i.e. whatever they come accross.  Young feed mainly on lizards and small snakes (such as baby garter and ribbon snakes). Adults feed mainly on rodents and snakes (including various water snake and cottonmouths). Speckled kingsnakes utilize many habitats including farms, open fields, swampy areas, forested areas and in many towns.

There are a few varieties of this snake available from breeders.   The albino has been on the market for some time now.  It is a very attractive solid white snake with yellow spots.  "Lavender Albinos" are also available. As an adult, they are a light purplish-black with light spots and red eyes.  This variety originated from a wild caught snake from south Louisiana. Rumors are out there that a white-sided and striped speckled kingsnakes are out there with select breeders now.

This page is another good source for the genus Lampropeltis, including the speckled kingsnake: Kingsnake and Milksnake Page

Please send comments and/or questions to kj@kingsnake.kingsnake.com

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