Lampropeltis rhombomaculata, Mole kingsnake, Brown kingsnake
Lampropeltis rhombomaculata, commonly known as the mole kingsnake or brown kingsnake. It is a relatively medium-sized snake that occupies a variety of habitats from Baltimore, Maryland, south through the Florida Panhandle and west into Mississippi and Tennessee.
L. rhombomaculata is generally light brown or gray in color, with dark brown, orange, or reddish-brown blotching down the length of its body. They are capable of growing to lengths of 30–40 inches (76.2–101.6 cm). They are easily mistaken for the milk snake and the venomous copperhead, which both share the same type of habitat, and can have similar markings. Some specimens have their markings faded, to appear almost a solid brown color. Juveniles are generally more vivid in markings and coloration. They have small reddish-colored markings on the head.
The mole kingsnake is found throughout the southeastern United States and Mid-Atlantic States, but is absent from the Appalachian Mountains.
Mole kingsnakes' preferred habitat is open fields with loose, dry soil, typically on the edge of a forested region. Their diet consists primarily of rodents, but they will also consume lizards, frogs and occasionally other snakes. They are nonvenomous, and typically docile. Like most colubrids, if harassed they will vibrate their tail rapidly. These snakes are very secretive and very fossorial and rarely seen above ground during the day unless they are forced out by heavy rains. Mole kingsnakes are mainly nocturnal and commonly seen on paved roads at night.Show More
This species has been observed to ingest prey whole and headfirst, even prey with a diameter over 90% of the diameter of the snake's head. This is thought to be an inherited behavior.Show Less
Male and female mole kingsnakes mate around May–June during late spring to early summer. Females leave behind pheromone trails for males to sense through their forked tongues. After mating, females choose their nesting sites underground or in rotting logs and leave their 10-12 eggs to hatch in the summer. The mother does not stay behind to nurture her offspring, usually leaving right after she laid the eggs. It takes about ten days for the hatched snakes to be fully independent.Show More
The hatchlings and eggs of L. calligaster rhombomaculata are both of smaller average size than those of L. calligaster.Show Less