Lampropeltis nigrita

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Scientific name Lampropeltis nigrita
English name Mexican Black Kingsnake; Black Desert Kingsnake; Western Black Kingsnake
Distribution From northern Sinaloa northwards to Sonora (Mexico) and in the far southeast of Arizona (USA).
Habitat These kingsnakes are found both in rocky areas and in areas with lush vegetation.
Details Was formerly a subspecies of L. getula.In 2017 Lampropeltis getula, based on DNA research, was split into 4 separate species (L. floridana, L. getula, L. meansi and L. nigrita). These four species currently have no subspecies.

Krysko, Kenneth L.; Leroy P. Nuñez, Catherine E. Newman, Brian W. Bowen.  (2017) Phylogenetics of Kingsnakes, Lampropeltis getula Complex (Serpentes: Colubridae), in Eastern North America. J Hered (2017) 108 (3): 226-238.

As an adult snake, these animals are completely black or dark brown with sometimes white spots on the underside of the head. The head and neck merge into each other without narrowing. The dark eyes are relatively small and have a round pupil.

In one clutch of eggs, there can be a considerable difference in the appearance of the young. Some snakes have an almost entirely black belly and back.

In other specimens of the same layer, thin crossbands can be seen on the back and a chessboard pattern of light and dark squares can be seen on the belly side.

The average length of adult animals usually lies somewhere between 80 and 120 cm. Like many king snakes this species, with good care, can get 20 years or older.

Like most kingsnakes, the Mexican Black Kingsnake also is an opportunistic feeder; they eat almost anything they can catch that is not too big to swallow.

On the menu are lizards, snakes (including venomous species, such as rattlesnakes), mammals, birds and eggs. This species is immune to the venom of rattlesnakes.

These snakes live mainly on the ground and occasionally climb in low bushes. They are also excellent swimmers. When they feel threatened they “rattle” very quickly with the tail. They rarely bite.

In the spring the males go looking for females to mate with. This period lasts 1 to 2 months. And six to eight weeks after the copulation the eggs are laid. A clutch can contain up to 24 eggs. These hatch after 50 to 60 days. At birth, the young are about 20 cm long.

In the wild, there is usually one clutch laid every year, but in lean years when there is not much food available, the females also are known to skip a year.

With the proper care, this species does well in captivity on a diet of rodents.