King Snakes of Texas

The varied ecosystems and abundance of wildlife in Texas are home to an interesting variety of reptiles, with king snakes being particularly noteworthy.

The king snake is a non-venomous snake native to North and Central America that belongs to the genus Lampropeltis in the scientific classification system. The beauty and versatility of these animals, as well as the crucial role they play in preserving ecological balance, have earned them widespread acclaim.

This article will take you on a deep dive into the fascinating world of King Snakes of Texas, covering topics such as the different species, where they live, what they eat, how they behave, how they reproduce, whether or not they are endangered, and how to tell them apart from other snakes in the area.

What is King Snakes?

The king snake is a non-venomous member of the Colubridae family of snakes. Due to popular perception, kingsnakes are given the moniker “kingsnake” because of the assumption that they can safely ingest dangerous snakes like rattlesnakes. King snakes are resistant to the venom of some snake species but not all, hence this belief is more myth than science.

A List of King Snakes of Texas

There are a number of king snake species in Texas, each with its own set of characteristics and specialized features. Let’s look more closely at the most important ones:

King Snakes of Texas


Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula)

  • Habitat: Eastern kingsnakes can be found all over the state of Texas, and their environmental preferences are just as varied.
  • Diet: Rodents, birds, eggs, and even other small reptiles make up the bulk of these snakes’ opportunistic predator diet.
  • Behavior: Typical behavior for an Eastern kingsnake includes sunbathing and demonstrating impressive climbing abilities.
  • Reproduction: In order to reproduce, these snakes lay their eggs in secret locations like burrows or rotting logs.
  • Adaptable and widespread, Eastern kingsnakes are not at risk of extinction in Texas, where they are not threatened by human activity.

Gray-banded Kingsnake (Lampropeltis alterna)

  • Habitat: The deserts, rocky hillsides, and scrublands of western and central Texas are typical habitat for this species.
  • Diet: Gray-banded kingsnakes have a narrow diet consisting mainly of lizards and rodents but also including other snakes, even venomous ones.
  • Behavior: Behaviourally, these snakes are elusive and shy, preferring to hide in dark places like nooks and beneath rocks.
  • Reproduction: Gray-banded kingsnakes reproduce by laying eggs, which they then protect by coiling around.
  • Conservation Status: Despite the lack of government protection, these snakes are in danger since their habitat is destroyed by human activity.

Texas Coral Snake (Lampropeltis elapsoides)

  • Habitat: The habitat of the Texas coral snake (Lampropeltis elapsoides) includes South Texas’s forests, plains, and coastlines.
  • Diet: Their diet consists mostly of other snakes, especially venomous coral snakes, as well as some tiny reptiles.
  • Behavior: The coral snake in Texas is shy and rarely seen. They may look poisonous, yet they are completely safe around humans.
  • Reproduction: These snakes reproduce by laying eggs, and their clutch sizes are typically tiny.
  • Conservation Status: Although they are not currently considered to be in risk of extinction, it is critical that their natural environments be safeguarded.

Mexican Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigrita)

  • Habitat: In western and southern Texas, Mexican black kingsnakes are found in a wide variety of habitats, from grasslands to rocky outcrops.
  • Diet: They eat small mammals, birds, and sometimes other snakes.
  • Behavior: These snakes are known for their lack of aggression and shiny black appearance.
  • Reproduction: They, like other kingsnakes, produce offspring by hiding eggs.
  • Conservation Status: There is no reason to believe that the Mexican black kingsnake population in Texas is in risk of extinction.

Prairie Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster)

  • Habitat: The grasslands, prairies, and farmlands of North and East Texas are common homes for the Prairie Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster).
  • Diet: Rodents and occasionally other reptiles make up the bulk of their diet.
  • Behavior: These snakes live on land and frequently hide in crevices or underground tunnels.
  • Reproduction: Prairie kingsnakes are known for their egg-laying and high reproductive success.
  • Conservation Status: They are not considered to be in risk of extinction in Texas.

Snakes Resembling King Snakes

However, some non-venomous snakes in Texas exhibit similar markings to the king snake, which can lead to mistake. Differentiating these species from their poisonous relatives is crucial for everyone’s safety. The following snakes resemble king snakes in some way:

Scarlet Snake (Cemophora coccinea)

  • Scarlet snakes share the same general color scheme as king snakes, but lack the latter’s distinctive black bands. It has a more compact head size as well.
  • This harmless species preys on a variety of small amphibians and vipers.

Coral Snake (Micrurus spp.)

  • The bright red, yellow, and black bands of a coral snake are easily confused with those on a king snake. However, the pattern of their coloring is different.
  • Avoid coming into contact with coral serpents because of their poison.

Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum)

  • Milk snakes feature a pattern of colors similar to that of king snakes, albeit the bands in the former may be narrower.
    These snakes are harmless and prey on rodents and other small mammals.

Other Non-Venomous Snakes Found in Texas

Texas is home to a wide variety of reptiles, including king snakes and their close relatives, but the state is also rich in non-venomous snake species. Here are a few that stand out:

Rat Snake (Pantherophis spp.

  • Large and powerfully constricting, rat snakes also show amazing versatility in their habitat use.
  • Mice and birds make up the bulk of their diet.

Gopher Snake (Pituophis spp.)

  • Gopher snakes feed mostly on rodents, birds, and their eggs, and can be found in a variety of habitats, including open grasslands.
  • They put up a show of aggression when they feel threatened.

Texas Indigo Snake (Drymarchon melanurus erebennus)

  • The Texas indigo snake is one of the largest snakes in North America and has a sleek black finish.
  • These snakes hunt a broad variety of animals, from mammals and birds to reptiles.

Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)

  • When it comes to appearance, bullsnakes (Pituophis catenifer sayi) and rattlesnakes are somewhat comparable. Sadly, they are not poisonous.
  • The usefulness of bullsnakes in rodent population control cannot be overstated.


The king snake is an important part of the diverse reptile community of Texas. The state’s ecosystems would collapse without them due to their distinctive appearances and vital ecological responsibilities as predators. Many species are able to survive and even thrive in spite of difficulties, such as the loss of their environment.

Coexisting peacefully with Texas’s many snake species requires familiarity with things like where they live, what they eat, how they behave, how they reproduce, and whether or not they are poisonous.

In our role as environmental stewards, we have a moral obligation to safeguard king snakes and their natural habitats so that future generations can enjoy Texas’ unique flora and fauna as much as we have. In this article, we have given information about “King Snakes of Texas.”

Leave a Comment