Lampropeltis pyromelana

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Scientific name Lampropeltis pyromelana
English name Arizona Mountain Kingsnake, Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake
Distribution Arizona, Nevada, Utah and southwestern New Mexico (USA)
Habitat This species occurs especially at heights between 800 and 2500 meters. They inhabit, among other things, coniferous forests, deciduous forests (chapparal) and near the juniper. Usually in the vicinity of running water or sources.
Details This species includes the representatives of the following two former subspecies, namely.L. p. pyromelana and L. p. infralabialis.

L. p. knoblochi is nowadays a separate species (L. knoblochi).

Both L. pyromelana and L. knoblochi are now separate species. Both do not have subspecies.

If you want to know more about this, download and read the following article …


Burbrink, Frank T.; Helen Yao, Matthew Ingrasci, Robert Bryson, Timothy J. Guiher & Sara Ruane 2011. SPECIATION AT THE MOGOLLON RIM IN THE ARIZONA MOUNTAIN KINGSNAKE (LAMPROPELTIS PYROMELANA). Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 60: 445-454


For the appearance of this species I refer to the clickable photo at the top of this page. The Western coral snake (Micrurus euryxanthus) has roughly (with some fantasy) the same appearance as this mountain kingsnake. A nice example of mimicry.

ca. 6 months old

Roughly you can say that the “pyromelana snakes” that live north of the Gila River belong to the species pyromelana and the snakes that live south of this river belong to the species of knoblochi. They can hardly be distinguished externally. Specifying the origin is of great importance for determining the species.

These snakes, which are mainly active during the day, can be found among other things in the dense bushes, in rocky crevices and under stones and tree trunks, etc. Sometimes they are also active during warm, humid nights. Most likely to see them is mid-morning and just before sunset. These are the moments that they are looking for prey.

ca. 6 months old

The menu of this snake species includes birds, rodents, bats, lizards and possibly other snakes. It mainly lives on the ground but is perfectly capable of climbing. When they are caught they do not shun to bite and/or to spray the attacker with a stinking liquid.

They brumate during the late autumn and winter months. The copulations take place, as usual for kingsnakes, in the spring and at the end of spring or at the beginning of the summer the 3 to 10 eggs (on average 5 or 6) are laid (with sometimes clutches of 13 to 15 eggs in one layer). These hatch at the end of the summer. The young are about 15 to 18 cm long at birth. Adult animals can be up to 100 cm long but are usually smaller (70-80 cm). Females are often somewhat larger than males.