Grey-banded Kingsnake (Lampropeltis alterna)

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Grey-banded Kingsnake
Lampropeltis alterna
Grey-banded Kingsnake (Lampropeltis alterna)
Name Grey-banded Kingsnake
Name Lat. Lampropeltis alterna
Family Colubrids
Family lat. Colubridae
Order Scaled Reptiles
Order lat. Squamata
Origin SW-USA, N-Mexico
Habitat Savanna
Diet Small mammals, lizards
Humidity 45-60 %
Behavior Nocturnal, peaceful
Keeping Individual, group
Care Level Moderate
Reproduction Oviparous
Housing Dry terrarium
Life Span 10-15 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 80-100 cm
Temperature 24-30 °C
Temperature Local 30-32 °C
Housing Size 100 x 50 x 50 cm
US Units
Size 31"-39"
Temperature 75-86 °F
Temperature Local 86-90 °F
Housing Size 40" x 20" x 20"

Distribution and habitat

The range of the predominantly nocturnal, ground-dwelling Gray-banded King Snake is southwestern Texas, southeastern New Mexico (USA), and northern Mexico. They live in shrub savannas and rocky semi-deserts usually near waterholes.


Minimum dimensions for the terrarium, according to the size and number of animals:

1-2 animals 1KL x 0,5KL x 0,5KL (L x W x H)

Body length (KL) is measured on the largest animal. For each additional animal the floor space should be increased by 20%. A terrarium of e.g. L 100 x W 50 x H 50 cm is recommended, which should be placed in a quiet and vibration-free place.

They need a terrarium structured with roots, stones and cork tubes (hiding places and visual protection) with a graveable substrate, e.g. of sand-humus mixture with peat and foliage, as well as an easy-to-clean water basin as drinking vessel. To ensure constant humidity, a small portion of the substrate must always be kept slightly moist, for which sheets of sphagnum moss are well suited. Once a day, preferably in the evening, the inside of the terrarium should be finely sprayed with water (humidity).

Temp. day: 24-30 °C Temp. night: 18-22 °C Temp. local: up to 32 °C Humidity: 40-60

Thermostatically controlled floor heating is recommended. Lighting duration must be 12-14 hrs. depending on the season. Daylight fluorescent tubes supplemented with spotlights are ideal.


The food supply consists of live rodents (e.g. mice, rats) and small lizards according to their size. After successful acclimation, the changeover to dead food animals (commercially available frozen food) is often successful. Juveniles should be offered food every 3-5 days, adults every 7-14 days, with occasional periods of fasting (e.g., skipping a feeding). If the snake is disturbed after feeding, this may result in vomiting of the prey. It is better to offer several small feeders, rather than one large one. If it does not eat for a long period of time, both the timing and the food should be varied. It is important to fortify the food animals with vitamins and minerals. Since the snake could be injured by live rodents, it should not be left unattended with them.

Reproduction and breeding

Probing by the veterinarian is the only reliable method of sex determination.

A resting period is recommended for successful reproduction. The female lays her eggs (4-15 eggs) in the moist substrate about 5 cm deep and does not perform brood care. The incubation period is 50-65 days at a temperature of 29 °C. The young are 20-25 cm in size and can be fed with nest young mice.


They are usually docile, but can bite hard. When threatened, they vibrate their tails and purposefully release strong-smelling feces. Socialization is not recommended, as they often eat conspecifics and other snakes, including venomous ones.

A resting period of 3-4 months at a temperature of 8-12 °C accompanied by a feeding break is recommended.

Always have snake hooks and protective gloves ready when handling.The terrarium must have good ventilation without drafts and meet the species-specific needs. Measuring devices such as thermometers, hygrometers, etc. are necessary. The lighting has to correspond to the species-specific day-night rhythm and has to be placed in such a way that the animals cannot injure themselves. The terrarium should be locked in such a way that neither unauthorized persons can open it nor the animals can escape. Contamination must be removed regularly

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Christian Sänger; Image: petdata

Source: BMELV (1997): Tierschutzgutachten -  Mindestanforderungen an die Haltung von Reptilien; ENGELMANN (2006): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Reptilien und Amphibien, Harri Deutsch Verlag

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF