Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake
Sierra, our Sonoran mountain kingsnake, is a captive-bred Arizona subspecies (Lampropeltis pyromelana pyromelana) and is not the same as the Utah Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), which is controlled for possession.
These medium-sized snakes live in forested and mountainous habitat, often along streams or rocky areas. Practically harmless, these creatures mimic the venomous coral snake, but there are some key differences. First, coral snakes don’t occur in Utah. Second, their tri-colored pattern of red, black and yellow is different than kingsnakes. For the kingsnake the saying is, “red on black is a friend of jack.” If its a coral snake, “red on yellow will kill a fellow.” You can see from the photo, their red rings don’t touch their yellow rings.
They are called “king” snakes for a reason. These powerful animals use constriction to kill their prey. They are immune to rattlesnake venom and are capable of constricting and consuming them whole. However, since mountain kingsnakes are a little smaller than their California cousins, they prefer to hunt lizards, birds, rodents and smaller snakes.
Females lay an average of three to six eggs per cycle, which hatch within 66 to 83 days. Kingsnakes are very secretive and spend most of their time hidden underground or under rocks or logs. They are a protected species in Utah and may not be collected without a permit.