king snake

king snake
any of several New World constrictors of the genus Lampropeltis, that often feed on other snakes.
Also, kingsnake.
[1700-10, Amer.; KING + SNAKE]

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Any of seven species of snake (genus Lampropeltis, family Colubridae) found in numerous habitats from southeastern Canada to Ecuador.

They kill by constriction; named for their practice of eating other snakes, they also take small mammals, amphibians, birds, and birds' eggs. They are mainly terrestrial and relatively slow-moving. Strikingly marked and smooth-scaled, they have a small head and are usually less than 4 ft (1.2 m) long, though some specimens may approach 7 ft (2 m). The common king snake, found throughout the U.S. and in northern Mexico, is usually black or dark brown, variously blotched, ringed, or speckled with yellow or white.

Common king snake (Lampropeltis getulus)

Jack Dermid

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 any of seven species of moderate- to large-sized terrestrial snakes found from southeastern Canada to Ecuador. Adults generally range in length from 1 to 1.5 metres (3.3 to 5 feet), but some have grown to 2.1 metres. They are nonvenomous constrictors and have a cosmopolitan diet that includes small mammals, birds, snakes, lizards, amphibians, and bird eggs. As a sign of nervousness, king snakes will twitch their tails.

 The common king snake (Lampropeltis getula, with seven subspecies) is found throughout the United States and northern Mexico. It is variable in pattern and may be black or dark brown, with yellow or white stripes, rings, crossbars, or spots. The California king snake (Lampropeltis getula californiae) exhibits two pattern types, the common ringed pattern and a rarer striped form; both patterns can appear from a single clutch of eggs. King snakes derive their common name from the common king snake's habit of feeding upon other snakes, including rattlesnakes and copperheads, to whose venom they are immune. Occasionally king snakes are cannibalistic, even within their own species. In captivity they can survive for 30 years or more. Eggs are laid in clutches of 5–24.

 The other six king snake species have a tricoloured pattern of red, black, and yellow rings. The common milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulatum, with 25 mostly tricoloured subspecies) has one of the largest distributions of any snake, occurring from 48° N to 4° S latitude. Its average length is 1 metre (maximum 1.9 metres). The scarlet king snake (L. triangulum elapsoides; considered by some to be the same species as the milk snake) is a small species from the southeastern United States that feeds mainly on lizards. The milk snake and the scarlet king snake are known as false coral snakes because their coloration and pattern mimics that of venomous coral snakes. King snakes belong to the family Colubridae (colubrid).

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • King snake — King King, n. [AS. cyng, cyning; akin to OS. kuning, D. koning, OHG. kuning, G. k[ o]nig, Icel. konungr, Sw. konung, Dan. konge; formed with a patronymic ending, and fr. the root of E. kin; cf. Icel. konr a man of noble birth. [root]44. See {Kin} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • King snake — Snake Snake, n. [AS. snaca; akin to LG. snake, schnake, Icel. sn[=a]kr, sn?kr, Dan. snog, Sw. snok; of uncertain origin.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any species of the order Ophidia; an ophidian; a serpent, whether harmless or venomous. See {Ophidia}, and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • king snake — king′ snake or king′snake n. ram any of several harmless New World snakes of the genus Lampropeltis, that often feed on other snakes …   From formal English to slang

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  • king snake — noun any of numerous nonvenomous North American constrictors; feed on other snakes and small mammals • Syn: ↑kingsnake • Hypernyms: ↑colubrid snake, ↑colubrid • Hyponyms: ↑common kingsnake, ↑La …   Useful english dictionary

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  • king snake — /ˈkɪŋ sneɪk/ (say king snayk) noun any of certain large harmless American snakes, especially Lampropeltis getulus, which feed on other snakes, including rattlesnakes …   Australian-English dictionary

  • king snake — noun Date: 1709 any of numerous brightly marked colubrid snakes (genus Lampropeltis) chiefly of North and Central America …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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