California Kingsnake Fact Sheet

Common Name:

California Kingsnake

Scientific Name:

Lampropeltis californiae

Wild Status:

Least Concern


Woodlands, Deserts, Marshes, Grasslands


United States



Life Span:



4 ft

Cool Facts:

  • Belongs to the family of colubrid snakes
  • Feeds on small mammals, birds, and cold blooded reptiles and amphibians
  • Like the King Cobra, its title of king refers to the snake's tendency to eat other snakes
  • California Kingsnakes have been known to hunt and feed on rattlesnakes by snapping their necks
  • Are notorious for biting humans more than other pet snakes
  • Thankfully, their bites are not venomous
  • Despite this, they are considered easy pet snakes due to their eager feeding response and will rarely reject food


California Kingsnakes are common throughout not only California but Arizona and parts of Mexico as well. They are one of the most popular pet snakes along with fellow colubrids, corn snakes. Unlike corn snakes, the Cali Kings are usually a predictable pattern of black and white, making them easy to spot and difficult to mistake for other, possibly venomous snakes. The impressive title of Kingsnake is earned by preying on other species of snake, including the feared and revered rattlesnakes. In addition to being able to snap a rattler's neck, Cali Kings are more resistant to rattlesnake venom than most animal that live near rattlesnakes. Despite this reputation, kingsnakes prefer to hunt easier prey such as rodents and amphibians. They are known to be ravenous and easy to feed, and are often recommended to new snake owners. With proper care and caution, the snake can learn to be handled peacefully and without accidental bites.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Reptilia Order: Squamata Suborder: Serpentes Family: Colubridae Genus: Lampropeltis Species: L. californiae

Conservation & Helping:

California Kingsnake's conservation status is currently unknown. However, given their success in captive breeding and care, if their numbers in the wild were to reach critically low levels, reintroduction would be a possibility. Like most species, climate change could harm the snakes as they are ectotherms and depend on the environment for body temperature regulation. Thankfully, these snakes are active both day and night, and can thermoregulate by choosing when to leave their burrows.

For Teachers and Educators


Keep Exploring Defenders!