The closest stop sign is over a mile away and the first traffic light is 5+ miles down the road. A visit to the grocery store is almost 30 miles round trip. It's quiet here; just the sound of toads and coyotes at night. It seems very still, but when you look close there's always something happening. Read on about a few things we've noticed over the past few years.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lampropeltis getula californiae

AKA:   The California King Snake

It was really hard getting the snake to pose for this picture, but I finally convinced him!   I caught him crossing the road while on my walk this afternoon.  He paused for a second when he saw me and then he quickly slithered off the road.  I figured he was some kind of garter or king snake - I had to view a lot of pictures on the internet before I found a picture that looked just like him.  I read up on the California King Snake and this is what I found:
California Kingsnakes eat almost any vertebrate they can overpower such as rodents, other reptiles, birds, and ampohibians. All kingsnakes are non-venomous but are powerful constrictors and generally kill their prey through suffocation. The "king" in their name refers to their propensity to hunt and consume other snakes, including venomous rattlesnakes. California Kingsnakes are naturally impervious to the  venom of rattlesnakes but are not totally immune. They feed on rattlesnakes when the opportunity arises and a rattlesnake will make an easy meal for a hungry kingsnake, but they don't seek out rattlesnakes specifically nor consume them on a regular basis. Rattlesnakes and California Kingsnakes are not enemies and may be found sharing the same piece of cover (i.e. plywood, tin, rocks, crevice, etc.) in the wild while completely ignoring the presence of the other.

When disturbed, California Kingsnakes will often coil their bodies to hide their heads, hiss, and rattle their tails, which, if done in dry vegetation, can produce a sound somewhat resembling that of a rattlesnake's rattle. They are considered harmless to humans, but if handled it is common for this species to bite as well as excrete musk and fecal contents from their cloaca.  Kingsnakes shed four to six times per year at which point they go "opaque", meaning the snake's skin becomes dull and its eyes will turn a milky color. Like all snakes, they usually shed in one long piece, which includes their eye scales. Juvenile snakes will shed more frequently, up to once a month, than adult snakes because of their faster rate of growth. The California Kingsnake lays eggs as opposed to giving live birth like some other snakes.

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