Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Young King

My husband Randy inadvertently cornered this beautiful little snake on our terrasse. I think it is a very young Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula. If so, this one will grow up to become a formidable constrictor, able to take on and devour any rattlesnake. He's immune to rattler venom.
I've found adult Kingsnakes around here, but they are never patient enough to have their picture taken. I remember that they were all of the banded pattern, called California Kingsnake. This one has the dorsal spots of a Desert Kingsnake, but according to the distribution in the literature we seem to be too far north west here (NW Bajada of the Tucson Mountains). I will get expert help to exactly identify the snake from these photos.

The snake made his way straight up the brick wall and disappeared in the foliage of a bush of Barrio Petunias.

Hope to see him again!

P. S.
Here is what the experts said:

Brendan O'Connor: 'Wow that's a unique one for sure. Looks like a desert kingsnake but I can't say I have ever seen one quite like that before. Great find and photo.'

Stephane Poulin: 'There is a lot of variation in kingsnakes but this one is a common kingsnake not a desert one.
Nice photo it is a beautiful specimen'

Pat Sullivan: 'Your kingsnake: is an aberrant color pattern, probably of a California ("desert color phase" = black and white bands). I haven't seen this pattern before. I wonder if it occurred naturally? Are there any snake breeders in your area? It could be an escapee from a breeder (or from breeder's stock).'

Manny Rubio: 'Wow! That is one spectacular kingsnake. I sure wish you'd kept it. It is a yearling and-- as others have said-- very unusually patterned and has exceptionally bright wide wide markings.. If it reappears-- call me!'

So it seems the experts agree that this snake is unusual.


  1. What a cool encounter. Sounds like it's some kind of kingsnake, at any rate. What a gorgeous specimen.

  2. Tucson is an intergrade area between the desert phase (black & white) California kingsnake & the desert kingsnake (L.g.splendida). Most in the area look like California kings, but occasionally you'll get the "Yuma" phase & beauties like this one.
    I used to have a bloodline of Cal x splendida that looked just like this one.

  3. That is an intergrade between a California Kingsnake and a Desert Kingsnake. both are subspecies of the Common Kingsnake, L. getula, and the ranges of each collide in the Tucson area. So, many weird looking kings can be found around you, especially along Speedway from west to east in Tucson. As you move farther NW the patterns become almost exclusively Cal King looking. See my book, "Common Kingsnakes" at

    Hope that helps, since I AM the kingsnake expert...Brian Hubbs

  4. I bred out some hybrids a long time ago that were cal king x desert, this one here looks exactly like my babies, I sold my breeders a couple years back and these quite possibly are th3e same exact mix.

  5. Seems like all agree that it is between California and Desert King. The are occurring here on my property again and again. The one described above has been in captivity since 2010 and is growing, but the pattern hasn't changed a lot.

  6. I just caught one very similar to this one! I have been scouring the internet looking for a similar photo. This poor guy was in a place where he was about to get hit on the NW side of Tucson. I wish I could post a picture. Its young but fat and healthy. I hope you get this I'd love to talk with you.

  7. i caught one in safford arizona that looks very simalar to that one as far as i can tell it is a yearling i named him pluto, ive seen them called a speedway morph

  8. that is what some would call a speedway morph it is an intergrade between the cali king snake and the desert king snake, the reason it looks the way it does is because it as the striped influence from the cali king which is diluted by the speckled looking pattern of the desert king

  9. I just caught one of these for a photo opp in Catalina, north of Tucson. What a friendly beauty, great bold patterning for an adult.