Submitted by John Pollpeter, Lead Naturalist at Woodlands Nature Station
Just like the lion is “king” of the beasts, the black or common kingsnake is “king” of the snakes. Kingsnakes regularly eat snakes, including venomous ones, as they are partially immune to the venom. Kingsnakes are not venomous.
The black kingsnake will strike the rattlesnake behind the head, grasping it tightly as it coils itself around the other snake. The coils slowly constrict the rattlesnake, killing it rather quickly. After a time, the kingsnake will uncoil and begin eating, head first to unhinge its jaws, and swallowing the dead rattler.
Kingsnakes are easy to identify as they have smooth black scales, speckled with faint yellow bands, and a black and white checkerboard belly. Kingsnakes are perfect for the backyard, as they are mild-mannered, calm, and easy to identify. All black snakes are good snakes. They eat everything folks do not like in their yard like bugs, spiders, rats, mice and venomous snakes.
Click on the pictures below to see a black kingsnake killing and eating a timber rattlesnake at Woodlands Nature Station’s backyard. You never know what you’ll see in our backyard when you visit!
So, the moral of the story? Become friends with the Kingsnake! Imagine if they weren’t around….