This species was formerly considered a subspecies of Lampropeltis getula
. Pyron and Burbrink elevated L. splendida
to a separate species in 2009.
near Benson, Cochise County, Arizona—May 9, 2009
My friend Roger Repp and I saw this snake as it was crossing a road on which we had earlier seen a Big Bend Patch-nosed Snake
, a Gila Monster
, and a Sonoran Gophersnake
This individual shows some characteristics of L. splendida and some characteristics of L. californiae. It is perhaps a hybrid between these two species; hybrids are known to occur in this area of Arizona.
near Animas, Hidalgo County, New Mexico—August 15, 2013
There's no doubt that this snake is a full-blooded Desert Kingsnake. It was a gorgeous individual. Its only flaw was a complete inability to stop moving for five seconds so I could get a decent photo. Five seconds! Is that too much to ask?
Cochise County, Arizona—August 22, 2016
This youngster was slightly more cooperative for photos, but only slightly. It still never stopped moving for more than a few seconds, but at least it was willing to partially coil up.
Cochise County, Arizona—August 23, 2016
I saw the gorgeous adult in the first picture above near dusk as it was gliding across a little-used road. I pulled over and took a few photos as it was moving slowly, but could not encourage it to stop moving completely. Then a car appeared and was closing in on us, so I grabbed the snake quickly and released it at the side of the road. The snake no longer moved slowly, and I got no more photos.
A little later I saw the very small kingsnake in the second picture. It was slightly more cooperative, but only slightly.
- Bartlett, R. D., Tennant, A. 2000. Snakes of North America, Western Region
- Behler, J. L., King, F. W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, Eighth Edition
- Degenhardt, W. G., Painter, C. W., Price, A. H. 1996. Amphibians & Reptiles of New Mexico
- Hubbs, B. 2009. Common Kingsnakes: A Natural History of Lampropeltis getula
- Smith, H. M., Brodie, E. D. Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification
- Stebbins, R. C. 2003. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition