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Kingsnake facts for kids

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Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides.jpg
Scarlet kingsnake, Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides
Scientific classification

Kingsnakes are colubrid snakes. They are members of the genus Lampropeltis, which include milk snakes and four other species. There are many subspecies, and experts differ on their classification. These snakes are mostly found in the United States and Central America.

Their colouration is an example of Batesian mimicry, because it is very similar to poisonous coral snakes living in the same areas. This gives the kingsnakes protection from the birds which prey on them.

Kingsnakes use constriction to kill their prey and tend to be opportunistic when it comes to their diet; they will eat other snakes (ophiophagy), including venomous snakes. Kingsnakes will also eat lizards, rodents, birds, and eggs.

The common kingsnake is known to be immune to the venom of other snakes and does eat rattlesnakes, but it is not necessarily immune to the venom of snakes from different localities. The "king" in the name (as with the king cobra) refers to this preying on other snakes.

Kingsnakes such as the California kingsnake can exert twice as much constriction force relative to body size as ratsnakes and pythons. Scientists believe such strong coils may be an adaptation to snake and other reptile prey, which can sustain lower blood-oxygen levels before asphyxiating.

The Kingsnake is often preyed upon by large vertebrates such as birds of prey. Tarantula spiders also sometimes prey on the snake.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Lampropeltis para niños

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