California Mountain King Snakes
Order: Squamata; Family: Colubridae; Species: Lampropeltis zonata multicincta
Range: Southern Washington to northern Baja California.
Habitat: This snake is most often found in moist woodlands in rocky areas, near water, above 1,500 feet in elevation. They spend most of their time underground, under surface objects, or inside rock crevices. Occasionally they are seen active on the ground in the daytime, especially near shaded streams on hot sunny days.
Diet: They are very opportunistic. They will eat other snakes (ophiophagy), lizards, salamanders, rodents, birds, and eggs.
Lifespan: Up to 20 years.
Houdini was stolen from the wild and kept as a pet as a young snake. Unwanted, years later, he was acquired by Turtle Bay in January 2015.
- Because of similar colors and markings, these snakes are sometimes mistaken for the venomous coral snake (not found in California). There’s a saying that will help you distinguish between the two: “Red touching yellow, kill a fellow, red touching black, friend of Jack.”
During very hot weather, activity is primarily nocturnal. This snake is normally active at temperatures between approximately 55 - 85 degrees.
They brumate in the winter (the lowering of body temperature and going into a long dormancy) typically around November, emerging some time from February to April, depending on location and weather conditions.
When slabs are torn off rock outcrops by someone searching for this snake or other reptiles, the habitat this snake uses for refuge is irreparably damaged. It takes thousands of years for this rock fissuring to occur, so this habitat will not be replaced for many centuries. Such rock destruction is illegal in California.
Not considered endangered, but is on the list of California Species of Special Concern
Considered the king of the snakes because they eat other snakes, and have an enzyme in their blood that helps protect them from the effects of a venomous rattlesnake bite.