Lampropeltis getula holbrooki

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki
Speckled King Snake.jpg
speckled kingsnake
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Lampropeltis
Species: L. getula
Subspecies: L. g. holbrooki
Trinomial name
Lampropeltis getula holbrooki
Stejneger, 1902

Lampropeltis getula holbrooki, commonly known as the speckled kingsnake, is a nonvenomous subspecies of kingsnake, which is endemic to the United States.

Geographic range[edit]

It is found in the central to southern United States from southern Iowa to the Gulf of Mexico.[1] Its range overlaps that of the desert kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula splendida, and it is known to intergrade with that subspecies.


They prefer wetter habitats than other kingsnakes, like swamps and rivers, but they do commonly venture to dry areas like woodlands and grassy fields.

Physical description[edit]

Close-up head of an adult near Natchez, Mississippi

Speckled kingsnakes grow up to 48 inches (120 cm). Their common name is derived from their pattern, which is black, with small yellow-white specks on almost every scale. They are also known as the 'salt and pepper' snake.


Their diet consists of mammals, birds, rodents, frogs, lizards and other snakes. They kill by constriction.


When threatened, the speckled kingsnake will shake its tail like a rattlesnake to deter predators. They frequently expel musk and feces or bite when threatened.

They are usually docile, often striking only one or two times after capture, and are frequently kept as pets. They are commonly captive bred.

Conservation status[edit]

The speckled kingsnake is listed as a threatened species in the state of Iowa.[2]


This snake was first described by Holbrook in 1842. At that time he called it Coronella sayi under the mistaken impression that it was the species previously described by Schlegel as Coluber sayi. In 1902 Stejneger pointed out that because Coluber sayi is a different snake (Pituophis catenifer sayi), the name sayi could not be applied to this snake. Therefore, he proposed the name Lampropeltis holbrooki, honoring Holbrook.[3] It is currently considered a subspecies of L. getula.


  1. ^ "Speckled Kingsnake". Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  2. ^ Jeff LeClere. "Iowa Reptiles and Amphibians - Common Kingsnake - Lampropeltis getula". Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  3. ^ Blanchard, F.N. 1921. A Revision of the King Snakes: Genus Lampropeltis. Bull. U.S. Nat. Mus., No. 114.