Lampropeltis holbrooki

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Scientific name Lampropeltis holbrooki
English name Speckled Kingsnake
Habitat Occurs in lowland “hardwood forests”, brackish-water and fresh-water marshes, highland forests and in the vicinity of water on the prairies.

They more often occur in the wetter parts of their distribution area than in the drier parts. They do not shun the places where people live.

Distribution Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, southern Iowa and (1 isolated observation) in northwestern Kentucky. From Texas to Nebraska hybridization with L. splendida occurs.


Formerly a subspecies of Lampropeltis getula (L. g. holbrooki). Since 2009, this snake is considered to be a separate species.

Pyron, R. Alexander; Frank T. Burbrink 2009. Systematics of the Common Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula; Serpentes: Colubridae) and the burden of heritage in taxonomy. Zootaxa 2241: 22-32

This species has a dark brown to black base colour with usually a yellow spot on each scale of the top of the body. The belly side is usually (pale) yellow with alternating black spots. Young animals are often dark olive-green on their backs, which gradually changes into adult back colour.

The yellow spots on the back form irregular crossbands up to the flanks.

In the wild young Speckled Kingsnakes feed mainly on young snakes, with a preference for various types of garter snakes (Thamnophis).

But they also eat small mammals, skinks, anoles, geckos and frogs.

In the terrarium, new-born snakes of this species do not necessarily accept small mice. When the mice are scented with the smell of the above-mentioned prey animals, they do eat them quite easily.

Adult specimens in the wild feed on rodents (amongst others mice and rats) and snakes (venomous and non-venomous species). They eat rattlesnakes, water moccasins and coral snakes (for the venom of these snakes they are partially immune). Sometimes they also show cannibalistic behaviour: eating specimen of your own kind.

Water snakes (Neriodia species) are also an important part of their natural diet. And so are lizards, birds, their eggs and every now and then a fish.

Recently caught specimen sometimes are very calm but often rather aggressive. But once they are used to captivity, they usually change into calm, docile snakes.

Specimen born in captivity are usually calm and easy to handle throughout their whole life. Only some carefulness is required during feeding; they are fanatic, voracious animals.

Like most representatives of the genus Lampropeltis, when they are caught, they will “rattle” their tail severely, empty their anal glands and sometimes bite. This behaviour usually disappears in captivity.

In the wild, these snakes usually end their brumation half/end of March. In that period they sunbathe exuberantly and go looking for their first preys of that year. Shortly afterwards, the men actively search for women to mate. The copulations take place in the spring. During the summer they alternately lie in their hiding place or hunt for food.

They only occasionally sunbathe in that period. The gravid females lay their eggs at the end of the summer. The eggs hatch in autumn.

Breeding these snakes is not very complicated. A brumation of 2-3 months at a temperature between 10 and 18 degrees C. is necessary.

When the snakes (especially the females) start eating after their brumation, they will shed their skin within a month. Place the female with the male and then everything goes “automatically”.

Five to seven weeks after the copulation, between 7 and 17 eggs are laid. After about 60 days the young snakes hatch when the breeding temperature is about 27-28 degrees C.

The length of the young is 17 to 23 cm at birth.

The average length of adult specimens lies between 90 and 120 cm. Measured record length was approx. 180 cm.