Lampropeltis calligaster

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Scientific name Lampropeltis calligaster (HARLAN, 1827)
English name Prairie King Snake
Habitat Lives mainly in prairie areas and on grassland plains.
Distribution You can find a number of populations west of the Mississippi River in the so-called Plains States (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North- and South Dakota).Also in the eastern half of Texas, this species is fairly common (info: Kyle Elmore – lamprotx on Instagram). He also made both photos.

Eastwards it crosses the Mississippi River and occurs in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, western Tennessee, and northern Mississippi.

Lampropeltis calligaster in south Houston © Kyle Elmore – lamprotx op Instagram

Lampropeltis calligaster in south Houston © Kyle Elmore – lamprotx op Instagram

Till 2017 the species L. calligaster knew three subspecies: L. c. calligaster, L. c. rhombomaculata en L. c. occipitolineata.

Based on DNA research, these three subspecies have been “upgraded” to three separate species (L. calligaster, L. rhombomaculata en L. occipitolineata).

For more info, download the article…

McKelvy, A.D.; F.T. Burbrink 2016. Ecological divergence in the yellow-bellied kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster) at two North American biodiversity hotspots. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 106: 61-72

In northern Mississippi the habitat of L. calligaster borders on that of L. rhombomaculata; this makes hybridization between these two species possible.

This snake is a typical ground dweller that most of the time stays under the ground during the day. They are mainly active at night.

Despite that they stay underground most of the time, quite a few specimens have been found so far.

This species is considered to be “common”.

Small movie about Lampropeltis calligaster

Their food in the wild consist of, for as far this is known, reptiles (lizards and snakes), birds and rodents.

I have not been able to find data about the reproduction in the wild. In captivity, the copulations take place at the end of spring. The eggs hatch at the end of the summer/beginning of autumn, The young are 12 – 18 cm at birth.