STATUS IN THE WILD: Least Concern
RANGE: Western United States
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
California king snakes are one of the many subspecies that derive from the common king snake. These snakes are born at seven to nine inches long but can reach lengths of thirty-six to sixty inches in adulthood. They have a dark brown or black coloration with white banding, stripes, or checkered patterns going down the length of their body and some white usually on the face.
Being diurnal, these snakes are most active during the day, but it is not unheard of for some to be more active at night if the weather is too hot. They can have a lifespan of twenty or more years, with ten to fifteen years being the average.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
Typically, California king snakes hunt for prey during the day, but if it is too hot, some will prowl at night. They are colubrid snakes, or constrictors, and have the strongest squeeze proportionate to their body size of any other snake, around twice that of similar sized rat snakes and pythons. In the winter, they go into a hibernation-like state called brumation and will stay underground until it is warm enough to come back out. When agitated, they will shake the tip of their tail similar to a rattlesnake. They have also been known to musk or excrete fecal matter when threatened or bothered and may try to bite the potential threat.
California king snakes are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs and do not give live birth. Courtship between males and females begins in spring. During the 42 to 63 days after mating, the female will pick out a suitable spot to lay the eggs and deposit them between May and August. The eggs hatch 40 to 65 days later. A clutch of eggs can contain anywhere from five to 12 eggs.
These snakes can be found in California, Oregon, southern Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and the Baja peninsula of Mexico.
California king snakes inhabit a variety of areas like farmland, deserts, river bottoms, brushy areas, and forests.
These snakes can feed on fish, other reptiles (occasionally a rattlesnake), and small animals but mainly consume rodents.