Gray Banded Kingsnake

Lampropeltis mexicana alterna

 

 

The Gray Banded Kingsnakes are somewhat confusing.   There is almost a cult following them.  You will hear about a 170 Alterna, Black Gap, Hwy 118, etc.  You will hear Light Blairs phase, Dark Alterna phase, Christmas Mountains Alterna, Dark Blairs, etc.  Way back when, the snake scientists thought there were two separate subspecies of what are now considered one.  In West Texas, in the Big Bend area, North into the Christmas Mountains and West into (rarely) New Mexico, the subspecies had narrow bands and there were a series of spots on the solid color area alternating with the bands.  Hence the name alterna.  Further East near the Langtry (Judge Roy Beans "Hang Out") there was the "blairi."   An animal with wider bands, and few, if any, alternating spots.  Years later, a gravid female was captured in Blairs territory.  She laid eggs which hatched with some being "blairi" and others being "alterna," so the blairi (the most recently described) was dropped and they all became Lampropeltis mexicana alterna.   Later, some considered them a full species, so you will see the group listed as Lampropeltis alterna.  The names referring to roads and certain places, refers to the spots or localities where they originated.  We try to produce some of each "phase," but have moved away from specific localities, preferring not to inbreed, and to try to produce more attractive animals.  These animals are extremely variable, and extremely colorful, but they have a bad reputation as being difficult to get feeding.  This is partially deserved.  If you have small lizards, they are easy to feed.  Only about half of the hatchlings will feed on new born pinkies.  The others have to be "tricked" into eating them.   See my article "Feeding Baby Snakes" for more on how to do this.  It is work, which is why we charge more for established pinkie eaters.  Once on mice, they present no more difficulties then any other kingsnake.  I have spent many long hours driving the roads of Texas all night for very few snakes.  Even with all the warnings, they are very popular.  Buy a feeder or be sure you are ready for potentially working hard.

Other animals in the L. mexicana group:

Thayer's (Variable) Kingsnake (L. m. thayeri)
Durango Mountain Kingsnake (L. m. greeri)

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