Mexican Black Kingsnake - Introduction

Introduction

Like all colubrids, the Mexican black kingsnake is a constrictor, using its powerful body to envelope and asphyxiate its prey, and therefore lacks any venom. Their diet does include other snakes (ophiophagy) — particularly rattlesnakes which are also common to the region—and as result, has developed an immunity to various kinds of venom.

This species (not unlike other kingnsakes) occupy rocky areas and places lush with vegetation in various regions of the Sonora Desert, Northwestern Sinaloa, Mexico, and small parts of Arizona. Recent evidence suggests that species found within Arizona, despite their dark markings, are actually a cross between the Mexican black kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigrita), the California kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae), or the desert black kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula splendida). The various kingsnakes in these areas often interbreed and are no longer considered "pure" Mexican black kingsnakes. The Mexican black kingsnake's diet consists mainly of small rodents, lizards, birds, eggs, and other snakes.

They are opportunistic hunters that will frequent the burrows of rodents and other small creatures, looking for their next meal. While they are a terrestrial species, they have been known to climb low vegetation, and are also excellent swimmers.

Younglings sometimes carry small spots of white or yellow, particularly under their chin; however, those markings commonly either fade or disappear entirely as they mature. A full grown adult will usually have no discernible rings or other markings of any kind. It is, however, a common misconception that this subspecies of kingsnake is black in colour. In actuality, they are of a deep, dark, chocolate—something that is highly visible under direct light.

The enamel of their scales reflects a "blueish" shimmer (pictured left), a trait made prominent on their ventral scales (likely due to their size, shape, and smoothness), and has been likened to that of the inside of an oyster shell. While this characteristic is found in many colubrids, it is exceptionally apparent on this particular species due to the rich, dark colour of its scales. Lampropeltis means "shiny shield" (from Greek λαμπρος, "shine" + πελτα, "shield").

The Mexican black kingsnake is considered a popular pet (especially for novice collectors) because it is quite easy to care for, generally well natured, and has no reservations feeding on either live or "pre-killed" rodents. They are active during the day and at night (diurnal); however, they tend to hunt during the daytime, as they rely on their (albeit limited) vision for predation. While their eyes do have severely limited acuity, their ability to detect movement is quite acute.

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