California Mountain Kingsnake

October 26, 2015
Heidi Rockney and Karen Wu
California Mountain Kingsnake

California Mountain Kingsnake. 
Photo: Heidi Rockney

Name: California Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata)
Order: Snakes (Squamata)
Family: Common Snakes (Colubridae)

California Mountain Kingsnake from Heidi Rockney on Vimeo.

What they look like

  • California Mountain Kingsnakes are slender, smooth, and medium-sized snakes.
  • The entire length of their bodies consist of repeating bands of red, black, and white.
  • The colors of their undersides are fainter and more irregular.
  • Adults are usually 24 to 30 inches long.

Where they live

  • View a map of where they live.
  • California Mountain Kingsnakes range from southwestern Oregon, along the coastal and mountain regions of California, and northwestern Mexico.
  • Smaller isolated populations can also be found in southern central Washington and northern Oregon.
  • Most California Mountain Kingsnakes live in the mountains of California.
  • They can adapt to a wide variety of habitats, including coniferous forests, oak-pine woodlands, riparian woodlands, chaparrals, and coastal sage scrubs.

What they eat

  • California Mountain Kingsnakes can feed on many animals, including lizards, birds, rodents, and other snakes, thanks to their really strong stomach acids.


  • In June or July, females lay 3 to 9 eggs, which will hatch in around 50 to 65 days.

Cool Biology Facts

  • The coloration pattern of California Mountain Kingsnakes is very similar to those of coral snakes, which are highly venomous.
  • This look-alike strategy may help fend-off predators, who avoid the harmless California Mountain Kingsnake thinking they are venomous coral snakes. 


  • Although illegal collection as pets and habitat destruction near urban areas are threats for California Mountain Kingsnakes, they are considered “least concern” due to their large distribution and currently large populations.
  • View their status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Distribution Map

Map of California Mountain Kingsnake distribution in Washington state. Learn more on the NatureMapping Foundation website.

Explore more of the Amphibians & Reptiles of Washington or check out All About Amphibians.

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