Florida is known for its hot summers and mild winters, and South Florida for its year-round tropical climate. This state is also home to a variety of wildlife, like snakes for instance. In this article we’re going to be talking about a certain type of snake, the kingsnake. The different types of kingsnakes in Florida to be more precise.
Kingsnakes got their name from the fact that they eat other snakes. Not only that, but king snakes actually eat venomous snakes like rattlesnakes and copperheads. They’re immune to snake venom.
Let’s take a look at 6 types of kingsnakes found in the state of Florida.
King snakes in Florida
The 6 types of king snakes in Florida are the eastern kingsnake, Florida kingsnake, scarlet kingsnake, mole kingsnake, short-tailed kingsnake, and the Apalachicola kingsnake.
1. Eastern kingsnake
Scientific name: Lampropeltis getula
The eastern kingsnake can be found in northern Florida and the panhandle. They can grow up to 36 to 48 inches in total length and are characterized by having shiny, black, smooth scales with white or yellow chain link bands that cross the back and connect on the sides.
Eastern kingsnakes lay clutches of 4-20 eggs which hatch in about 60 days. The juveniles emerge fully formed and are brightly colored. Kingsnakes are constrictors and hunt during the day.
They eat other snakes, lizards, frogs, rodents, birds, and they especially like turtle eggs. You’ll find eastern kingsnakes in forests, swamps, and wetlands as well as farmlands and more urban areas.
Many species of of kingsnakes, the eastern kingsnake included, are popular in pet industry.
2. Florida kingsnake
Scientific name: Lampropeltis getula floridana
Like the eastern kingsnake, the Florida kingsnake is a subspecies of the common kingsnake. This subspecies is also known to interbreed with the eastern variety where their ranges overlap. They are brown and yellow in color typically with light bands along their bodies. Florida kingsnakes reach 3-4 feet in length as adults. They’re found throughout the state of Florida, though more common in the southern half of the state.
Juveniles tend to be mostly black while adults are more yellow-black. Like other kingsnakes, Florida kingsnakes prefer living in marshes, swamps, and near wooded areas. They feed on small mammals as well as other snakes.
3. Scarlet kingsnake
Scientific name: Lampropeltis elapsoides
The scarlet kingsnake is also known as the scarlet milksnake and the scarlet snake. Scarlet kingsnakes can be found in every county throughout the entire state of Florida. It grows 14 to 20 inches long. Its bright red, yellow, and black markings make it one of the most beautiful snakes in the state.
Scarlet kingsnakes are frequently mistaken for the coral snake or the non-venomous scarlet snake. It can be distinguished from the venomous coral snake by remembering the rhyme, “Red on yellow, kill a fellow. Red on black, friend to Jack.” This simply means as long a red band is never touching a yellow band, the snake isn’t venomous. However this only holds true for North America’s coral snakes.
Scarlet kingsnakes breed from March to June and will lay 2 to 9 eggs. The babies emerge after two months after being laid. They hunt mostly during the night and eat small lizards, rodents, and other snakes. The scarlet kingsnake likes to live in pinelands and hardwood hammocks. Not only can they burrow, but they can climb very well.
4. Mole kingsnake
Scientific name: Lampropeltis occipitolineata
The mole kingsnake is a subspecies of the prairie kingsnake. It grows 30-40 inches in total. They have very smooth scales and are a light or dark brown with reddish brown spots down the back.
They mate in late spring or early summer, laying a clutch of 10-12 eggs. Like other kingsnakes, they eat a variety of animals like rodents, other smaller snakes, lizards, amphibians, and birds. They spend much of their time underground and aren’t seen very often. They like to hide under boards or natural debris of open fields or edges of forests.
The South Florida mole kingsnake is only found in a few counties in southern Florida near Lake Okeechobee, and no where else. The northern mole kingsnake is only found west of Jefferson county.
5. Short-tailed snake
Scientific name: Lampropeltis extenuata
Also known as the short-tailed kingsnake, this snake is a small, slender type of kingsnake that only grows to about 1 and a half feet long. This rare snake’s body is gray colored with 50-80 brown spots that are separated by yellow to red sections.
This species has a small head that is indistinct from its body, smooth scales, and a very short tail. The short-tailed snake lives underground mainly and is not even seen by humans. They are only found in northern areas of the Florida peninsula and thrive in their sandy soils.
6. Apalachicola kingsnake
Scientific name: Lampropeltis getula meansi
The Apalachicola kingsnake is the third and final subspecies of the common kingsnake on this list. The example above is a pet and likely a light color morph. These snakes in the wild look very similar to the Florida kingsnake, though a bit darker from what I can tell.
Apalachicola kingsnakes are only found in parts of the Florida panhandle. According to the University of Florida, the eastern Apalachicola lowlands south of Telogia Creek is where they are most common.