King Snake, a member of a genus of North American snakes that prey on rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins, to whose poison they are immune. King snakes also eat rats, mice, and other rodents, as well as frogs, toads, and lizards. They kill by constricting (squeezing) their prey.

The common king snake averages about three feet (90 cm) in length, but some grow to be twice that long. It is usually black, with yellow blotches on the belly and white or yellow bands across the back. The bands fork and join one another, forming a chain along the sides. The milk snake is a member of the king-snake genus. There are numerous other species.

What Makes the Kingsnake King?

A kingsnake’s diet can include turtle eggs, birds, and small mammals. But what makes the kingsnake a king among North American snakes is that it eats other snakes—even poisonous rattlesnakes and copperheads, How can kingsnakes do this? They are not very affected by snake venom.

Kingsnakes are not poisonous. So how do they kill their prey? The kingsnake wraps around its prey and squeezes it to death.

Not all kingsnakes are alike. They may be brown or black. They may be speckled or have colored bands, rings, spots, or other patterns.

The common kingsnake is black with narrow yellow bands across its body. It grows to about 3 1/2 feet (107 centimeters). The prairie kingsnake is a light brownish color with black-edged brown or greenish blotches.

King snakes belong to the genus Lampropeltis of the family Colubridae. The common king snake is L. getulus.