Monday, June 6, 2011

Creature Feature: Eastern Kingsnake

The Eastern Kingsnake is a fascinating species native to the East Coast of the United States.  This nonvenomous snake is a medium sizes snake with an average adult size ranging from 36"-48".  If you don't like snakes, one good reason to like the kingsnake is that their diet consists mainly of other snakes with venomous snakes being one of their favorite menu items!  The Eastern Kingsnake will also mimic the behavior of other snakes, twitching its head around like a venomous snake and shaking its tail fast in leaf litter, mimicking a rattlesnakes rattle.

Usually very calm snakes, the kingsnake is not know to bite unless provoked.  If you find one in the wild please leave it wild, but if you desire to have one as a pet some people captive breed snakes so this would be a good way to acquire one to keep as a pet!  It was a real treat to see these snakes in the wild on one of our hikes and we hope to see more slithering around out there!

Lesser known fact: Many other nonvenomous snakes mimic the behavior of other venomous snakes by shaking their tails in leaves mimicking rattlesnakes, opening their mouths wide mimicking cottonmouths, forcing their heads back in an attempt the have a triangular shaped head, and flattening out their necks mimicking cobras (common in hognose snakes).  Another important note is that a cats eye is not always an indication that a snake is venomous (many pythons have these types of irises).  So to play it safe, know what snakes are in the area you are hiking and leave any wild snakes untouched and unharmed!

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