Mountain King Snake

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Mountain King Snake
Lampropeltis pyromelana knoblochi

Lampropeltis pyromelana knoblochi

Subordination : Snakes (serpentes)
Superfamily : Adder-like and viper-like (Colubroidea)
Family : Adders (Colubridae)
Subfamily : True snakes (Colubrinae)
Genre : King snakes ( Lampropeltis )
Type : Mountain King Snake
Scientific name
Lampropeltis pyromelana
( Cope , 1867)

The mountain king snake ( Lampropeltis pyromelana ) is a species from the genus of the king snake ( Lampropeltis ) within the family of the snake (Colubridae). It is one of the smallest members of the genus. In their homeland, the mountainous regions of North America criss-crossed by scrubland and sparse forests, the mountain king snake can be spotted at heights of up to 2500 meters.

The Artzusatz pyromelana (from the Greek pyro, flame (color) and mela, black) refers to the color, infralabialis the determining feature lower lip shields (Infralabialia) and Woodini the herpetologists William H. Woodin.


The mountain king snake is a medium-sized snake and can reach a body length of up to 109 cm. Their muzzle is usually white or cream, sometimes black with white spots. The body shows black, white and red rings, the red ones have a black border on both sides. The white rings do not get wider towards the bottom row of scales, the black ones get narrower and disappear at the sides. The number of ventralia is 213 to 238.

The nominate form usually has more than 43 white rings , and the subspecies Lampropeltis pyromelana woodini fewer than 43 white rings. In both subspecies, less than half of them run completely over the abdomen. On each side along the lower edge of the mouth opening there are 10 lower lip shields in both subspecies . The number of subcaudalia minus the white rings on the body and tail is 17 or less in the nominate form and 17 or more in Lampropeltis pyromelana woodini . In Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis , half or more of the white rings run completely over the abdomen and there are only 9 lower lip shields on each side.

Distribution and subspecies

In addition to the nominate form Lampropeltis pyromelana pyromelana ( Cope , 1867), two other subspecies are recognized that differ in color from it. Lampropeltis pyromelana knoblochi is now considered a separate species, Crother et al. 2017 even see the species as monotypical and Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis as a synonym .

  • Utah mountain snake ( Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis Tanner , 1953) - inhabits large parts of the Grand Canyon in Nevada as well as northern Arizona and central and southwestern Utah .
  • Arizona mountain snake ( Lampropeltis pyromelana pyromelana ) - inhabits New Mexico and parts of northern Mexico .
  • Huachua mountain snake ( Lampropeltis pyromelana woodini ) - inhabits northern Mexico and parts of Arizona.

Populations from Mexico (northeastern Sonora and south and west Chihuahua ) may all be Lampropeltis knoblochi .

Habitat and way of life

The mountain king snake prefers to inhabit rocky, montane habitats, often near rivers or springs. However, it can also be found in lower-lying areas, in moisture-affected canyons (mesic canyons). The vegetation of their habitat consists of pine and juniper forests, oak and juniper forests, pine and oak forests, pine Douglas fir forests and chaparral . During the day, the mountain king snake hangs between stones, tree trunks or dense vegetation, but can also be seen in open terrain.

This king snake is mainly diurnal, but occasionally also out and about on warm, humid nights. It often goes in search of food in the mornings or just before sunset and prey on lizards, rodents, birds and bats. It is primarily a ground dweller, but it can also climb well and occasionally occurs in trees or high on boulders. Mountain snakes mate in spring, in late spring or early summer a clutch of up to 9 eggs is created. The young hatch in late summer.

Individual evidence

  1. a b Wilmer W. Tanner: Lampropeltis pyromelana (Cope). Sonoran mountain kingsnake. In: Catalog of American Amphibians and Reptiles , 1983, p. 342.1. ( Online )
  2. a b Thomas C. Brennan: Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake Lampropeltis pyromelana. In: Online Field Guide to The Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona. ( Online )
  3. ^ A b c Charles E. Shaw, Sheldon Campbell: Snakes of the American West. , 1974, ISBN 978-0394488820 , p. 254.
  4. ^ A b Lampropeltis pyromelana in The Reptile Database
  5. IUCN

Web links

Commons : Mountain King Snake ( Lampropeltis pyromelana )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files