California KingSnake

Lampropeltis californiae

The California kingsnake is a highly adaptable snake found throughout the west coast from Oregon to Baja Mexico. They can be spotted in fields, forests, and deserts, but are most often found near streams. Kingsnakes are one of the most widespread species of snake in the United States. Although California kingsnakes are limited to arid areas of California, they have the widest elevation range - from sea level to around 3,000 ft. Kingsnakes are constrictors, meaning they squeeze their prey. However, Kingsnakes will often use mimicry to ward off predators. This includes tail rattling, and coiling its body similar to a rattlesnake. When bothered, they can become rather aggressive. Their main diet consists or rodents and other reptiles, including venomous snakes. Rattlesnakes that encounter kingsnakes in the wild will seldom rattle their tails, instead, sitting motionless until they pass. Kingsnakes are highly resistant to the venom found in rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths. 

Click HERE for a King Snake Activity Sheet!

Our Current Resident

Taco, Male - Born 2013 (estimated)

Taco came to ZooMontana in 2018 as a pet surrender. He was rather aggressive when he arrived; however, after several months of training through handling, Taco is now an ambassador animal used for educational programming. Taco is one of the smartest snakes at the zoo.


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Lampropeltis
  • Species: L. californiae

Animal Facts

  • Carnivore: eats meat such as lizards, rodents, birds, eggs, and snakes
  • Population: stable
  • Habitat: Forests, Deserts, Fields 
  • Crepuscular: active during twilight 

Our Animals