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Scarlet Kingsnake

Scarlet Kingsnake

Photo Credit: Dan Hipes

Scientific Name: Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides

OTHER NAMES: Scarlet milksnake, scarlet snake.
 
DESCRIPTION: Scarlet kingsnakes belong to the Class Reptilia, Order Squamata, Family Colubridae, Genus Lampropeltis( shining, beautiful scales ), Species Triangulum, Subspecies Elapsoides. The scarlet kingsnake is a non venomous small snake rarely reaching lengths of more than two feet. Its vibrant colors of red black and yellow make it one of the most beautiful snakes found in Alabama. Because of its secretive nature and moving mainly at night, they are rarely encountered. The average size of an adult snake is 14 to 20 inches. Adults have red, black and yellow rings that encircle the entire body. Both the yellow and red rings are surrounded by black rings so the red and yellow rings never touch. It has a red nose, smooth scales, and round pupils. Juvenile snakes look like adults in coloration except for the yellow rings being lighter, appearing white. 
 
DISTRIBUTION: Scarlet kingsnakes can be found in the coastal regions of the southeastern United States, from southern New Jersey to eastern Louisiana, including the entire state of Florida. In Alabama they are found in the piney woods and sandhill regions of the lower coastal plain.
 
HABITAT: The scarlet kingsnake is found in pinelands and hardwood hammocks. It is a terrestrial burrower but can climb very well. It is often found under rocks and bark of dead trees, and in rotting logs. It has also been found in suburban areas that have encroached on their former habitat.
 
FEEDING HABITS:  Scarlet kingsnakes feed on small lizards, rodents, and other small snakes. They do most of their hunting at night, dawn, or dusk, but can be active during the day.
 
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: Scarlet kingsnakes breed from March to June and typically lay eggs underground or in rotten logs from May thru August. Clutch size may range from two to nine. The babies emerge about two months after the eggs are laid, and look like a miniature version of the adult. The scarlet kingsnake is often mistaken for the venomous coral snake (Micrurus fulvius) or the non-venomous scarlet snake (Cemophora cocinnea ). It can be distinguished from the coral snake by a famous rhyme: “ Red on yellow - kill a fellow. Red on black - friend of Jack”. This refers to the order of the colored rings that occur on the snakes. Do not touch a snake if you are in doubt of its identity. 
 
REFERENCES:
 
“Animal Bytes : Scarlet Kingsnake”
 
“Wikipedia Encyclopedia- Scarlet Kingsnake”
  
“Guide to the Snakes of Florida-Scarlet Kingsnake”
AUTHOR:  James Altiere, Regional Hunter Education Coordinator, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, July 2006

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