Sonoran Black Kingsnake

Sonoran Black Kingsnake


Sonoran Desert




Generic name means ‘shiny skin’. Scales are smooth. Color is black with a lighter belly.


Constrictor but often vibrates tail as ‘bluff’. Hides under logs or stones. If caught, can be vicious, biting and chewing hard, but after adjusting to captivity, usually becomes quite good-tempered. Because of their snake-eating habits, they are often caged separately in captivity. Sometimes rolls into a ball with its head at the center and everts lining of cloaca as ‘bluff’. Chiefly terrestrial but some species climb into trees after birds. Usually crepescular, but desert species often nocturnal.


Mate from mid-March to early July. Oviparous, laying 6 – 12 eggs in a clutch; incubation period 66 – 83 days. The striped and banded phases often occur within offspring of same clutch of eggs.

Interesting Facts:

Valuable in controlling rodents and venemous snakes. Presence of king snake nearly assures absence of rattlers in area. In the presence of a king snake a rattler will neither strike nor rattle, but will lay with head low and raise center part of its body in a loop, with which it will strike heavy blows to the king snake.

Sonoran Black Kingsnake
Class: reptiles
Genus: Lampropeltis
Species: getulus nigrita
Length: 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 ft., maximum of 5 – 6 ft.
Height: N/A
Weight: N/A
Wild Diet: Cannibalistic, will dine frequently on both venemous and non-venemous snakes; rodents, lizards, birds, eggs, and frogs. They are immune to rattlesnake venom.
Zoo Diet: N/A
Predators: Of eggs or larvae of fish, water birds, insects, frogs, and other salamanders. Prey on adult snakes, and mammals such as skunks, badgers, and raccoons; also owls.
USFWS Status: Not Listed
CITES Status: Not Listed
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building: Temperate Zone

Learn more about reptiles or animals from North America!
Or, cross-reference the two!