Kingsnakes are members of the genus Lampropeltis. They are named for their habit of eating other snakes, including venomous snakes like rattlesnakes. Some king snakes are also called milk snakes.
This is because of an old myth that milk snakes would steal milk from cattle. King snakes are widespread across the United States, and a number of these snakes live in Louisiana.
This list will go over the king snakes that can be found in Louisiana and includes where they can be found, a photo and a description.
1. Louisiana Milk Snake
The Louisiana milk (Lampropeltis triangulum amaura) is called a milk snake, but it is a member of the same genus as kingsnakes. It is a subspecies of the milk snake. It can be found in the west of the state close to the border with Texas.
These harmless snakes are actually mimics of the coral snake. They have red, yellow, and black bands to help make predators confuse this nonvenomous constrictor with the deadly coral snake. In this article I explain how to tell them apart.
This is called Batesian mimicry. They tend to be under 2 feet long as adults and eat a number of small prey animals including rodents and small reptiles.
2. Scarlet Kingsnake
The scarlet kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides) was once called the scarlet milk snake since it was considered to be a subspecies.
However, a genetic analysis proved that this snake is a completely different species than the milk snake. They are probably the most famous of the coral snake mimics.
They have bright red bands that touch the black ones. They also have bands of yellow.
The popular rhyme to tell a true coral snake apart from its mimics was based on this snake: “Red touch black, safe for Jack. Red touches yellow, kills a fellow“.
They tend to stay under 20 inches long, making them one of the smallest kingsnake species.
They are only found in the eastern and southeastern portions of Louisiana, such as around Baton Rouge. They eat small rodents and other reptiles.
3. Speckled Kingsnake
The speckled kingsnake (Lampropeltis holbrooki) is a dark snake named for the light speckles that cover its body. This coloring helps break up its appearance in its native habitat.
They can be found throughout Louisiana and can grow to be up to 5 feet long. They prefer to live in forests and open grassland.
4. Black Kingsnake
The black kingsnake (Lampropeltis nigra) is named for its dark color. It is typically black with white or yellow speckles. The underside of the animal is lighter. Most will be between 3 and 4 feet as adults, but large animals can be up to 6 feet long.
They are typically only found in southeastern Louisiana.
They can be found in a number of habitats including abandoned homesteads and dense brush close to water.
5. Prairie Kingsnake
The prairie kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster) is a brown to greenish snake that can be mistaken for a rattlesnake.
They have a yellow underbelly, large eyes with a round pupil, and their head is not distinct from the body. It can be found in much of the north and west of the state.
They prefer grasslands and woodlands for habitat. They spend most of their time hiding under logs or rocks. These snakes eat a number of animals that includes venomous snakes.
Like most kingsnakes, they will eat pretty much anything they can find and take down. Since they are fairly fast and are very strong, they are amazing hunters that can take down larger snakes.
Like all constrictors, they use coils of their body to squeeze their prey.
This cuts off blood flow and causes a rapid death. It takes more strength to kill a reptile with this strategy than a mammal since reptiles can handle lower oxygen levels than a mammal.
6. Mole Kingsnake
The mole kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata) are named for their preferred habitat. These snakes are typically found underground.
They live in the eastern portions of the state and may even be living very close to you. Since they tend to stay underground, they are rarely seen.
They tend to be a reddish brown with darker spots along the back. They do not typically get much over 3 feet long as adults.
They tend to live in a number of habitats, including suburban and agricultural areas. Since they eat rodents, many farmers welcome these snakes.
7. Western Milk Snake
The western milkshake (Lampropeltis gentilis) is another coral snake mimic. These small snakes have bands of red, black, and cream along the body. They tend to have duller colors than a true coral snake.
These snakes are typically found along the border with Texas, but they can be found elsewhere in the state. They are small and eat a wide variety of prey like other kingsnakes.
Very few of these snakes will exceed 2 feet long. They tend to be found in woodlands and prefer resting in logs and heavy brush. They are nocturnal and primarily eat reptiles.
We hope this has helped you learn about the many amazing kingsnakes that live in Louisiana.
There are very few areas of the state that wouldn’t have a native kingsnake living nearby.
If you live in the state and have seen a kingsnake, tell us more about your sighting in the comment section below.
If you have any other comments or questions, you can also leave those below.