SPECKLED KINGSNAKE
Lampropeltis holbrooki
(Stejneger 1903)


lăm-prō-pĕl-tĭs — hŏl-brŏŏk-ī




An adult Speckled Kingsnake from Logan County. © Travis W. Taggart.
An adult Speckled Kingsnake from Comanche County. © Travis W. Taggart.
An adult Speckled Kingsnake from Ellis County, Kansas. © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult Speckled Kingsnake from Pottawatomie County. © Lisa Wehrly.
An adult Speckled Kingsnake from Pottawatomie County. Image © Jacob Basler.
An adult from Neosho County. Image © Nick Gomez.
A sub-adult from Linn County. Image © Jim Scharosch.
A juvenile from Waubaunsee County. Image © Jim Scharosch.
An adult from Franklin County. Image © Ken Felsman.
A juvenile from Lincoln County. Image © Jim Scharosch.

Description:
Harmless. Smooth scales; belly yellow and irregularly patterned with black; black head, body, and tail profusely speckled with small yellow, cream or white spots. Yellow speckling on back forms narrow bars in juveniles and occasionally in adults.
The Speckled Kingsnake is a medium- to large-bodied constrictor that grows of 90-122cm (35 to 48 inches). The scales are smooth and the anal plate single. The dorsal surface is dark brown to black and most scales along the sides have a small irregular shaped yellow to whitish centered spot. In most Kansas specimens (and all juveniles)  the yellow/white spots form thin broken bars across the back, and many scales on the back may not have any spots at all. The belly is yellow/white (rarely orange) with few to many dark brown to black rectangular blotches.
Adults normally grow 900-1,220 mm (36-48 inches) in TL; largest specimen from Kansas: male (KU 182290) from Ford County with TL of 1,264 mm (49¼ inches) collected by Jeffrey T. Burkhart, T. Lucier, and D. Tolliver on 28 October 1978; maximum length throughout range: 72 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Distribution:
Probably occurs statewide, though spotty in the western quarter of the state, where it is largely confined to riparian corridors. It is especially numerous in rocky areas of the Smoky Hills, Flint Hills, and Osage Cuesta physiographic provinces, and at wetlands like Cheyenne Bottoms, Neosho Waterfowl Refuge, and Jamestown Wildlife Area.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 349 Total Records 
  • 293 Museum Vouchers 
  • 56 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (3); Anderson (7); Atchison (1); Barber (8); Barton (15); Bourbon (11); Butler (5); Chase (8); Chautauqua (4); Cherokee (4); Clark (10); Clay (2); Coffey (3); Comanche (6); Cowley (10); Crawford (6); Dickinson (1); Douglas (25); Elk (5); Ellis (17); Ellsworth (11); Finney (1); Ford (1); Franklin (13); Geary (5); Gove (3); Graham (1); Grant (2); Greeley (1); Greenwood (7); Hamilton (1); Harper (6); Harvey (1); Hodgeman (2); Jackson (2); Jefferson (3); Jewell (1); Johnson (3); Kearney (1); Kingman (1); Kiowa (7); Labette (2); Lane (1); Leavenworth (3); Lincoln (1); Linn (1); Logan (6); Lyon (14); Marion (4); Marshall (2); Meade (8); Miami (3); Mitchell (1); Montgomery (1); Morris (1); Morton (2); Neosho (3); Ness (2); Norton (1); Osage (4); Osborne (1); Ottawa (1); Pottawatomie (3); Pratt (1); Rawlins (1); Republic (1); Riley (3); Rooks (2); Rush (2); Russell (14); Saline (5); Scott (1); Sedgwick (2); Shawnee (11); Sherman (1); Smith (1); Sumner (1); Trego (2); Unknown (1); Wabaunsee (4); Wallace (1); Washington (1); Wilson (2); Woodson (2); Wyandotte (1);

Natural History:
Inhabits moist areas of open woodland, woodland edge or lowlands as well as open prairie, and cultivated borders; frequents rocky hillsides and small mammal burrows in open areas. Active from April to October, primarily during the day; nocturnal in summer. Eggs in clutches of 2-17 and generally hatch in fall. Constrictor. Diet includes rodents, small birds, eggs (bird and reptile), lizards and other snakes including venomous species.
Speckled Kingsnakes are known predators of other snakes, including venomous varieties. Their overall diet is varied, as they will eat small mammals, birds, lizards, frogs, as well as lizard, turtle, and bird eggs. They kill their prey by constriction
Females are oviparous, laying up to two dozen eggs in June or July, in a burrow or in/under a decaying log. The eggs hatch from late August into September.

Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
Remarks:
First reported in Kansas by Mozley (1877). The earliest existing specimen is from 1857 (USNM 316).
The systematics of the Speckled Kingsnake and its wide-spread closely related congeners (L. californiae, L. splendida, and L. getula [among other synonyms]) has received a lot of work since Blanchard (1921) (Blaney 1971, 1977; Pyron 2009) yet remains contentious.


Bibliography:
1857 Hallowell, Edward. Note on the collection of reptiles from the neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas, recently presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences by Dr. A. Heerman. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 8():306-310
1877 Mozley, Annie E List of Kansas snakes in the museum of the Kansas State Univeristy Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 6():34-35
1877 Mozley, Annie E List of Kansas snakes in the museum of the Kansas State Univeristy Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 6():34-35
1882 Yarrow, Henry C. Check list of North American Reptilia and Batrachia with catalogue of specimens in U. S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (24):1-249
1904 Branson, Edwin B. Snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 2(13):353-430
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1921 Blanchard, Frank N. A revision of the king snakes: Genus Lampropeltis.. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (114):1-260
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1929 Taylor, Edward H. A revised checklist of the snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 19(5):53-62
1934 Brennan, Lawrence A. A check list of the amphibians and reptiles of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():189-191
1934 Burt, Charles E. and W. L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1935 Brennan, Lawrence A. Notes on the Distribution of Amphibia and Reptilia of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 114pp.
1935 Burt, Charles E. Further records of the ecology and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the middle west. American Midland Naturalist 16(3):311-366
1935 Burt, Charles E. and William L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1937 Brennan, Lawrence A. A study of the habitat of reptiles and amphibians of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 40():341-347
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1962 Gish, Charles D. The Herpetofauna of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 34pp.
1971 Blaney, Richard M. Systematics of the Common Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getulus (Linnaeus) Dissertation. Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton Rouge. 137pp.
1973 Blaney, Richard M.. Lampropeltis. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (150):1-2
1973 McLeran, V. Friendly constrictors. Kansas Fish and Game (30(2)):8-11
1976 Caldwell, Janalee P. and Gregory. Glass. Vertebrates of the Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Pages 62-76 in Preliminary inventory of the biota of Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Report No. 5. State Biological Survey of Kansas, Lawrence. pp.
1977 Blaney, Richard M. Systematics of the common kingsnake, Lampropeltis getulus (Linnaeus). Tulane Studies in Zoology and Botany 19(3-4):47-103
1977 Knight, James L. and Joseph T. Collins. The amphibians and reptiles of Cheyenne County, Kansas, Report Number 15. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 19pp.
1980 Clarke, Robert F. Herptiles and fishes of the western Arkansas River in Kansas. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 55pp.
1982 Fitch, Henry S. Resources of a snake community in prairie-woodland habitat of northeastern Kansas. Pages 83-97 in Herpetological communities: A symposium of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the Herpetologists League, August 1977.  Wildlife Research Reports 12. 239 pp. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D. C. pp.
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1992 Ball, Robert L. Geographic distribution: Lampropeltis getula. Herpetological Review 23():27
1992 Ball, Robert L. High plains serpents: Results of a long-term study in Texas County, Oklahoma and Morton County, Kansas Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (88):16-17
1992 Taggart, Travis W. Lampropeltis getula. Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review 23():91
1992 Taggart, Travis W. Observations on Kansas amphibians and reptiles Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (88):13-15
1996 Miller, Larry L. Many amphibian and reptile species identified during KHS 1996 fall field trip to Wabaunsee County. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (106):2-3
1998 Rundquist, Eric M. Blind snake reproductive activity. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (111):16-17
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Biogeographic analysis of the reptiles (Squamata) in Ellis County, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (121):7-16
2000 Taggart, Travis W. KHS spring field trip sets record for attendance. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (120):5-5
2001 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 2000. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):6-8
2002 Miller, Larry L. Sumner County herp count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Riedle, J. Daren and A. Hynek. Amphibian and reptile inventory of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Labette County, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):18-20
2002 Taggart, Travis W. Geographic distribution: Lampropeltis getula. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):14
2002 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2002 fall field Trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):11-13
2004 Delisle, Jennifer M. and William H. Busby Biological inventory for vertebrates at Fort Larned National Historic Site of the southern plains network. Natural Heritage Inventory, Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 61pp.
2005 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2005 fall field trip [to Crawford County]. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (16):19-21
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2006 Westerman, Luke A. A remarkable record of prey ingestion by a Common Kingsnake. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (19):9
2007 Taggart, Travis W., Joseph T. Collins, and Curtis J. Schmidt. Estimates of amphibian, reptile, and turtle mortality if Phostoxin is applied to 10,000 acres of prairie dog burrows in Logan County, Kansas. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. 5pp.
2008 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2008 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (25):2-3
2009 Pyron, R. Alexander and Frank T. Burbrink. Lineage diversification in a widespread species: Roles for niche divergence and conservatism in the Common Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula. Molecular Ecology 18():3443-3457
2009 Pyron, R. Alexander and Frank T. Burbrink. Systematics of the Common Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula; Serpentes: Colubridae) and the burden of heritage in taxonomy Zootaxa (2241):23-32
2009 Taggart, Travis W. Geographic distribution. Lampropeltis getula (Common Kingsnake). Journal of Kansas Herpetology (30):11
2009 Whitney, Chad. Geographic distribution. Lampropeltis getula (Common Kingsnake). Journal of Kansas Herpetology (29):7
2010 Miller, Larry L. 2010 Investigation of the Checkered Garter Snake in Kansas with notes on other Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles encountered. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 31pp.
2011 Whitney, Chad Geographic Distribution: Lampropeltis holbrooki. Kansas: Finney and Hodgeman counties. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (40):8
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2014 Helms, Clinton Nest Survival of Grassland Breeding Birds in a Southern Mixed-Grass Prairie Wetland. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 100pp.
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
2018 Burbrink, Frank T. and Marcelo Gehara The biogeography of deep time phylogenetic reticulation. Systematic Biology 67(5):743–755
2018 Mead, Joshua Spatial Ecology of the Western Massasauga (Sistrurus tergeminus) in a Large Interior Wetland. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 69pp.
Account Last Updated:
1/7/2020 1:54:01 PM


Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University