Lampropeltis micropholis

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Scientific name Lampropeltis micropholis
English name Ecuadorian Kingsnake, Ecuadorian Milksnake
Distribution From eastern Costa Rica, Panama and southward into Ecuador. Also in Colombia (from sea level to at least 1750 m. altitude) and possibly also in Venezuela (observations between 1500 and 2150 m. altitude).
Habitat Humid and dry lowland and in pre-montane and montane forests
Details The snakes that belonged to the two (no longer valid) subspecies of Lampropeltis triangulum (L.t. gaigeae and L.t. andesiana) now belong to L. micropholis.


Ruane, Sara; Robert W. Bryson, Jr., R. Alexander Pyron, and Frank T. Burbrink 2014. Coalescent Species Delimitation in Milksnakes (genus Lampropeltis) and Impacts on Phylogenetic Comparative Analyses. Systematic Biology 63 (2): 231-250 


In 2015 there has been a change of the naming, but, up to now, I cannot find any further information about this: Lampropeltis andesiana — Natera-Mumaw, Marco; Luis Felipe Esqueda-González & Manuel Castelaín-Fernández 2015. Atlas Serpientes de Venezuela Santiago de Chile, Dimacofi Negocios Avanzados S.A., 456 pp.)

In the snakes of this species in Costa Rica and western Panama, there is usually a lot of black pigment present so the animals are very dark coloured and the drawing is barely visible (these are the snakes that used to be considered L. triangulum gaigae).

Newborn snakes of this dark “morph” have red, black and white (or yellowish) crossbands at birth. At an age of 6 to 10 months, they start to colour to the dark “morph”. In juveniles, the white band over the prefrontal scales sometimes remains visible for a long time.

In the specimen of the other locations, the crossbands continue to the belly and remain unchanged. The head is white with black. A part of the red and white scales is usually black or very dark, so that “there seems to be a shadow over the animals”.

The average length of adult specimens is between 110 and 160 cm. At birth, they are between 24 and 34 cm long.

This snake, typically living on the ground, eats all kinds of small vertebrates such as amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds. The eggs of these animals are also eaten. Sometimes also invertebrates.

L. micropholis is not seriously threatened in its survival. The large distribution area and the appearance in many National Park do not give cause for great concern.

This species is occasionally mistaken for a venomous species and for that reason killed.In Venezuela, there are areas where deforestation is a threat to this species. This deforestation takes place for the construction of Taro (Colocasia esculenta) plantations.