Prairie Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster) Photo by Kory Roberts
The Prairie Kingsnake is a nonvenomous snake living in the eastern third of Kansas southwest to the Red Hills. However, its range also includes Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. It has dark splotches along its back that vary from gray to brown to reddish brown, each with black trim. These blotches float on a lighter tan field giving way to a white belly. It is distinguished from copperheads that have hourglass markings. It is immune to the venom produced by copperheads, cottonmouths and rattlesnakes. During the summer it is nocturnal, preferring to spend the day under rocks and in burrows. During the spring and fall it may be observed during the morning or early evening (diurnal). It prowls for small rodents and other small mammals, certain snakes (even venomous ones), lizards and frogs that it overcomes by coiling around, constricting and suffocating. Around farmlands it keeps mice under control although some are killed by people ignorant of their nonvenomous and even docile nature.