King Snakes In Texas: 10 Writhing Serpents From The Forested Haven!

Strewn all across Texas, are woodlands, shrublands and prairies, and not to forget, the ever-so-famous, breathtakingly gorgeous Chihuahuan Desert in the western segment of the state. There are forests containing beautiful evergreen and deciduous trees. Such a wide range of habitat has attracted a plethora of snakes, and king snakes are one of them!

King snakes in Texas are plentiful, including the pretty looking milk snakes. They range from brown to gray in coloration, but some species have an attractive red color with eye-catching bands of white, yellow and black. In this article, you will learn about the lifestyle of 10 king snakes that can be found in Texan woodlands. Without further ado, let’s start exploring.

Overview Of King Snakes

Overview Of King Snakes

Source: @nativeplantdude

King snakes are harmless colubrid snakes that belong to the genus Lampropeltis. There are 45 known subspecies in this family, and they are quite popular as pets because of their docile nature and colorful appearance. Most of the subspecies have stripes or bands running across the width of their body, with their overall color being red, black, brown, gray and yellow.

King snakes can be found all over the United States and Mexico and this is mainly because they are quite adaptive. They have been sighted in tropical forests, coastal areas, shrublands and even deserts. Unprecedented hybridization between kingsnakes has not only led to a plethora of color morphs, but also to a rise of favorable characteristics that have helped them thrive.

King snakes have long been known to pursue an ophiophagous diet, meaning it mostly eats snakes, sparing not even the venomous ones. Hognose snakes, copperheads and even rattlesnakes are not let go of the vicious grasp of certain king snake species. They subdue mainly by constriction and their other prey list consists of lizards, birds, bird eggs, and rodents.

Now let’s take a look at how the climate, vegetation and water bodies in Texas suit the living standards of king snakes. There are abundant grasslands, woodlands, and prairies in Texas.  Winters are not very cold but in summer, it gets very hot. Texas is also home to myriads of trees such as pine, oak, elm, and douglas fir.

Not only that but lakes, rivers, falls, reservoirs and springs are strewn all over the beautiful state. And let’s not forget that Texas is home to the great Chihuahuan Desert in the western part of the state where a lot of snakes have thrived for decades. Because of an abundance of forested lands and water bodies, a good number of king snakes have found their habitat in Texas.

List Of King Snakes In Texas

Finally, we have come to the main segment of the article. Here you will meet 10 beautiful and docile snakes straight from the woodlands, water bodies and rocky mountains of Texas. Let’s get to know them one at a time! Do not be scared because they do not bite, well, usually.

Desert King Snake (Lampropeltis Splendid)

Desert King Snake

Source: @ma_leimroth

Desert king snakes as guessed already, can be mostly found in the dry, desert regions of Texas. The rocky desert hills and the limestone ridges of the deserts are their favorite places to hide and forage in. They have a beautiful rope-like appearance, mainly of gray and black coloration, with yellow specks and patterns all over their body. The yellow speckles resemble sand particles, thus providing them with an excellent camouflage.

They are not venomous at all and kill their prey by using constriction methods. Desert king snakes usually feed on rodents, lizards and others of their own kind which includes rattlesnakes. These arid climate snakes are quite clever when it comes to running away from a predator. They flip over, exposing their belly region and lying motionless, so as to appear as dead.

They can grow anywhere between 3 and 6 feet. Though they are habituated to living in dry and drought-affected regions of the world, the sight of water relaxes them. They usually stay close to water sources and riparian corridors. Most kingsnakes, including the one in question, are resistant to viper venom and thus can gobble up poisonous snakes in a jiffy.

Speckled King Snake (Lampropeltis Holbrooki)

Speckled King Snake

Source: @dstav_wildlife

Speckled king snakes have an overall gray appearance with yellow-white specks spread out in patterns all over their slender bodies. As they slither away along rocky foothills, hiding under boulders, their grayish black look helps them to remain inconspicuous from prey and predators. Speckled king snakes have found their home in most of eastern Texas, thriving near water.

Also known as the “salt-and-pepper” snakes because of their speckled external form, they are non-venomous and like to live near rivers and swamps. Dry areas like woodlands and grassy fields are also frequented by these slithering serpents. They mainly hunt down frogs, lizards, small mammals and rodents, subduing their prey by constriction alone, before swallowing.

Speckled king snakes have breath-taking hunting tactics. They mimic the venomous rattlesnakes by shaking their tail against dry leaves to make a rattling noise that makes predators take to their heels. They also release musk-scented substances from their cloaca that deter predators, including humans. However, despite that, they are quite popular as pets.

Gray-Banded King Snake (Lampropeltis Alterna)

Gray-Banded King Snake

Source: @lizardskinn

The hillsides and the mountain slopes of the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas sees the gray-banded snakes frequently. They are called gray-banded because their overall gray body is beautifully banded with thick orange rings running across the width of their body. The orange bands are outlined in black making them appear surreal. This coloration helps them to camouflage.

Alternatively known as the Davis Mountain king snake, these snakes are colubrid, non-venomous snakes. They can grow between 3 and 4 feet, and are quite secretive by nature. They often hide in mountainous terrains where humans do not tread. Limestone and volcanic substrates, scrubs and steep slopes are home to these lovely looking snakes.

LIke most other king snakes, gray-banded ones are immune to the venom of poisonous snakes. Their primary diet is lizards, but they also feed on birds, their eggs, and other snakes as well. They lay their eggs in early summer with the snakelets being about 10 inches in length. They are quite docile and often kept as pets where mice make up most of their diet.

Central Plains Milk Snake (Lampropeltis Triangulum Gentilis)

Central Plains Milk Snake

Source: @brendan_hettinger

Central Plains king snakes are found in the northern parts of Central Texas, all the way to the edge of the High Plains in the west. Limestone rocks, prairies, and the brittle sandstones of the high plains are their favorite hiding and foraging locations. The Rocky Mountain foothills are frequented by these serpents as well. They can grow as long as 36 inches.

These milk snakes are quite pretty looking with an overall white body, with intermittent patterns of red and black bands. The color of the bands are so distinctive and glossy that they appear to have been hand-painted on the body of the snake. Their heads are usually completely black with small white flecks or stripes that are almost unsightly.

Because of their lovely appearance and docile nature, these milk snakes are often adopted by humans to be reared within their household or in reservation centers. They are largely nocturnal and hibernate in winter in burrows called hibernacula. On the open prairies, and within the cracks and beneath the limestone rocks, they prey on kinks, fence lizards and race runners.

Prairie King Snake (Lampropeltis Calligaster Calligaster)

Prairie King Snake

Source: @spitfirereptiles

Central, eastern and western Texas are the home to prairie king snakes. They are also known as yellow-bellied kingsnakes because they have a beige to light yellow colored belly region. They have an overall brown and gray appearance, with dark brown splotches outlined in black, all over their body. The overall interplay of hues and patterns offers them a good camouflage.

Prairie king snakes love to visit abandoned structures and grasslands with loose soil near water sources. They primarily feed on rodents, lizards and frogs, and sometimes they will feed on other snakes as well. They are non-venomous themselves but are resistant to the venom of other snakes, so they also include venomous serpents in their diet at times.

Their defense tactics are quite interesting. When they feel threatened, they beat their tails swiftly against dry leaves thus generating the all too familiar sound of the poisonous rattlesnakes. Hearing this sound, many predators run or slither in the opposite direction. They also release a musky odor from their cloaca that helps in deterring predators and unwelcome visitors.

Eastern Milk snake (Lampropeltis Triangulum Triangulum)

Eastern Milk Snake

Source: @snake_n_snek

Eastern milk snakes frequent habitats like fields, woodlands, agricultural lands, and the rocky outcrops in the western great plains of Texas. They are non-venomous colubrid snakes that are also known by the names “checkered adder” and “horn snakes”. They flaunt a classic milk snake appearance with a red body banded in stripes of black and white.

They lay about 4 to 12 eggs in a clutch within rotting wood or beneath rocks. The eggs laid are sticky and need to be incubated for 2 to 2.5 months. In the spring, when they hibernate, they mate too. They are active mostly at night time, foraging on mice, opossums, skunks, owls and coyotes. They look like the venomous coral snakes and this helps in deterring predators.

They are not confrontational at all, and will usually slither away and hide under rocks or leaf litters. Because of their docile nature and humorous escaping tendencies, they are adored by young and old as pets. They have small aglyphous teeth, and no fangs, therefore they pose minimal threat to humans. They grow anywhere between 13 and 69 inches long.

Louisiana King Snake (Lampropeltis Triangulum Amaura)

Louisiana King Snake

Source: @snake_n_snek

Eastern Texas sees a small population of Louisiana king snakes. They look ravishing with a bright red appearance, adorned with thin, black and white bands running across their body. Between February and October, the Amaura subspecies can be seen most active especially during the night times. During the daytime, they are hiding under rocks or within hollow logs.

They are usually quite nervous and jumpy when handled by people they have never seen before. They release musk-scented feces or discharges from their cloacal opening in order to deter any threat. When threatened, they keep hissing, biting and generating a “buzz” sound with their tails, trying to imitate rattlesnakes. They mostly feed on skinks and anoles.

Pine flatwoods, hillsides strewn with oak and hickory, grasslands, rocky limestone outcrops– are all home to Louisiana king snakes. Amaura subspecies burmate or molt for 3 months before they finally copulate, laying 3 to 9 eggs during the egg-laying season. They love to hide so if you are thinking of keeping them as pets, remember to include a lot of hiding places in their tanks.

Mexican Milk snake (Lampropeltis Triangulum Annulata)

Mexican Milk snake

Source: @snakelahoma

With a slithery, shiny body hued in dark brownish-red and banded with yellow and black rings, the Mexican milk snakes are native to Mexico, but can be spotted in some parts of southwestern Texas as well, near the Chihuahuan Desert. Semi arid brushlands surrounded by sand-covered soil is their favorite place to hide in and forage. Milk snakes are a kind of king snake.

Mexican milk snakes can grow anywhere between 24 and 30 inches and are generally nocturnal, meaning they are the most active at night. However, at times, they have been found to be crepuscular as well, that is, they seem to adore the twilight period. Spring and autumn welcome the Mexican milk snakes, whereas hot summers seem to deter them.

In the spring time when it rains in Texas, the Mexican milk snakes breed and lay about 4 to 10 eggs per clutch. Neonates are 6 to 7 inches long only and look just as pretty as their parents. Their attractive color morphs and gentle nature make them a popular pet. They are calm and manageable and are more confident with humans therefore do not release the musky scent, which they usually do when they feel threatened.

Eastern King Snake (Lampropeltis Getula Getula)

Eastern King Snake

Source: @snake_n_snek

Lampropeltis getula getula are a subspecies of the Eastern king snakes. Desert hillsides and the mountain slopes of Texas are where these snakes frequent. Chaparrals, oak woodlands, grasslands, even deserts and sand-covered areas see the habitats of eastern king snakes. They are quite secretive in nature and spend the majority of their time hiding under leaf litter.

Eastern king snakes have long been considered as diurnal but some subspecies have been found to be quite active at night, foraging and hiding within rodent burrows. These snakes lay eggs containing several dozen eggs per clutch and need to be incubated for months on end. Adult eastern king snakes are black in color with thin speckled bands running on their body.

They gobble up other snakes as a part of their diet, including venomous ones like copperheads, coral snakes and rattlesnakes. Among the non-venomous ones, they usually go for common water snakes, ring-necked snakes and worm snakes. Besides snakes, they will occasionally go for amphibians, turtles and turtle eggs. They also like lizards and mice.

Mexican Black King Snake (Lampropeltis Getula Nigrita)

Mexican Black King Snake

Source: @mahnisreptiles

The desert hillsides and mountain slopes of the western parts of Texas, near the Chihuahuan Desert are frequented by Mexican Black king snakes. Rugged plateau and short brush-like shrubs are also their loved foraging spots and secret hiding places. This snake is a subspecies of king snake and has a luscious black body with brown dots over the entire body of the snake.

They grow anywhere between 3 and 5 feet and feel firm and stocky to touch. Like most kingsnakes, the Mexican Black king snake is a non-venomous colubrid. Rattlesnakes are common where they live and they frequently snack on rattlesnakes as well because they are immune to venom. They also feed on rodents, lizards, birds and bird eggs.

Mexican Black king snakes are regularly chosen as pets and feed on pinky and fuzzy mice from time to time. If handled properly, they get comfortable really quickly and warm up to their owner by wriggling about on the human’s body and smelling him with their tongue and nostrils. They are quite hardy and thus can tolerate a wide range of temperature and humidity levels.


King snakes in Texas can be found in the woodlands, prairies, rocky mountains and even in the deserts of the state. They are highly adaptive and are opportunistic feeders, thus they have exploded into an impressive population over the years.

They are characteristically docile and manageable– making them excellent pets. However, they are usually quite nervous and scare easily. In order to defend themselves they may hiss and bite. But, not to worry, they are non-venomous and their bites do not hurt much.

Hi dear readers! This is Rebecca, the lead analyst and blog writer for Snake Insider. Following in the footsteps of David’s guided path, I feel highly encouraged to make the most interesting snake-facts to a mass audience! In due time, I believe we’ll be able to present some jaw-dropping insight on snakes that’s sure to leave you begging for more! Personally, I’m a strongly motivated person to explore the most extreme environments should my work demand it. In many cases, I’ve ventured deep into territories that were never considered certain snake habitats and brought back necessary information. Rest assured I’ll surely be sharing them with you over the course of time.

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