Scarlet Kingsnake
Lampropeltis elapsoides

** Harmless **

Common Name:

Scarlet Kingsnake

Scientific Name:

Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides



Lampropeltis is derived from the Greek words lampros which means "radiant" and pelta meaning "small shields".



Vernacular Names:

Average Length:

14 - 20 in. (36 - 51 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

27 in. (68.6 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This snake is reddish with yellow and black bands that completely encircle the body; every other band is black; the sequence is therefore red, black, yellow, black, red, black, etc.; the snout is reddish *1006*. The scarlet kingsnake is an extraordinary mimic of the venomous coral snake, but the snout is red and the yellow rings are separated from the red by black; in southern Florida, the black rings may be enlarged middorsally and cross the red rings; rings normally continue across belly. Scales are smooth, in 19 rows at mid-body; anal single. Young are 5-8 inches (13-20 cm) long at hatching; adults average 14-20 inches (36-51 cm) long; the longest specimen recorded was 28 inches (68.6 cm) *883,11523*.

REPRODUCTION: Scarlet kingsnakes are oviparous. The female usually lays between 4-12 eggs in rotting wood and beneath rocks and logs; some eggs may be buried several inches deep in the soil. The eggs are usually laid in the early summer. They are creamy-white and slender and most of the eggs adhere to one another. The eggs usually hatch in 2-2.5 months *1006*.

BEHAVIOR: This species is secretive, and is adept at working its way beneath bark, logs, and other hiding places. They are seldom seen in the open except at night or after heavy rains. Food includes small snakes and lizards, baby mice, small fish, insects, and earthworms *883*. These snakes adapt well to a woodland terrarium as long as sufficient cover is available and suitable food is provided. Their secretive habits, however, keep them out of sight most of the time *1006*. Thorp has found this species active on roads at night *11523*.

ORIGIN: Native *1006*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: The longevity record of this species is 22 years and 4 months *11523*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: Potential predators include skunks, opossums, and raccoons *1006*.

References for Life History

  • 883 - Conant, R., 1975, A field guide to reptiles and amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, 429 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA
  • 1006 - Linzey, D.W., M.J. Clifford, 1981, Snakes of Virginia, Univ. of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, VA
  • 11523 - Thorp, T.J., 2001, Personal Communication, Expert Review for GAP Analysis Project, Three Lakes Nature Center and Aquarium

For additional information see: Discovery of a Population of Scarlet Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides) in the Virginia Piedmont


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Verified County/City Occurrence

Bedford County
Warren County
Verified in 2 Counties/Cities.


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Virginia is home to 9 native lizard species and two introduced species, the Mediterranean Gecko and the Italian Wall Lizard.


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