Skip to main content

prairie kingsnake

prairie kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster) Photo © Brad M. Glorioso

Features and Behaviors


The prairie kingsnake averages 30 to 42 inches in length. It has shiny, smooth scales. The back and tail have a pattern of brown, red or green, black-edged markings. The body color is brown-gray to tan. The belly is yellow with brown blotches.


The prairie kingsnake may be found in the southern two-thirds of Illinois. This reptile lives in prairies and open woodlands. It is active during the day in spring and fall but becomes nocturnal in the summer. It may be found hiding under rocks, logs or boards or in small mammal burrows. The prairie kingsnake, when disturbed, will vibrate the tail rapidly, hiss and strike. It kills prey by constriction. Mating occurs in spring. Males use their sense of smell to locate females. The seven to 20 eggs are deposited under rocks, logs or in sawdust piles in early summer. Eggs stick together as they are laid. Hatching occurs in August or September. This snake eats other snakes, lizards, rodents, small birds, bird eggs and turtle eggs.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Colubridae

Illinois Status: common, native