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Aquarium of the Pacific - Online Learning Center - Species Print Sheet

Conservation Status:  Least concern

Land SpeciesGray-Banded Kingsnake

Lampropeltis alterna Reptiles

Gray-Banded Kingsnake coiled
Gray-Banded Kingsnake coiled - popup

Species In-Depth | Print full entry

At the Aquarium

The gray-banded kingsnake is one of the Aquarium’s animal ambassadors brought out periodically for meet-and-greet sessions.

Geographic Distribution

This species is found in Southern New Mexico, northern Mexico, and the Trans-Pecos/Chihuahuan Desert area of southwestern Texas.


These snakes live in arid, hot, rocky, mountainous habitats.

Physical Characteristics

The gray-banded kingsnake is a medium-sized snake averaging 3 feet (91 cm) in length. It has a rather wide head compared to other kingsnake species and two large, protruding eyes with round pupils. There are two main color morphs: “blairi” has wide red-orange banding, and “alterna” has thinner orange-red banding. Both have a gray background with black and/or white accenting. Many variations from these basic morphs have been found in both captive and wild specimens, with some lacking the red or range banding completely.


Average length for this species is 3 feet (91 cm). Some may grow up to 4 feet (120 cm) long.


This snake feeds mainly on lizards. It will also feed on frogs, small rodents, other snakes, and eggs of ground-nesting birds.


Gray-banded kingsnakes exhibit little sexual dimorphism. They breed after winter hibernation. The breeding process typically takes about thirty days to produce eggs. The female usually lays between four to thirteen eggs which will hatch in approximately nine weeks. Hatchlings range from 7 to 12 inches (18 to 30 cm) in length.


This secretive, nocturnal snake is rarely seen by humans due to its nocturnal nature and often inaccessible habitats. They have a non-aggressive, docile demeanor.


The gray-banded Kingsnake withdraws to underground homes during long, hot, drought-filled summers to prevent dehydration.


This snake lives fifteen to twenty years.


IUCN lists this species as Least Concern.