Scarlet kingsnake

A beautiful snake with patterns of red, black, and yellow rings encircling the body

Peter Paplanus from St. Louis, Missouri

Scarlet kingsnake


A beautiful snake with patterns of red, black, and yellow rings encircling the body


A vibrant and nonvenomous species renowned for its striking coloration, which can indeed lead to confusion with the venomous coral snake. Its pattern of red, black, and yellow or white bands is a classic example of Batesian mimicry, where a harmless species evolves to imitate the warning signals of a harmful one to deter predators.

Found across the southeastern United States, the Scarlet kingsnake’s habitat ranges from pine flatwoods to hardwood forests and suburban areas. They are nocturnal, elusive creatures, spending daylight hours concealed under logs, leaves, or within the crevices of rocks and fallen trees.

The diet of the Scarlet kingsnake is varied and includes a variety of prey. While they do consume reptile eggs, which they are adept at hunting due to their slender build, they also prey on insects, small lizards, other snakes (including venomous ones, as they are immune to pit viper venom), frogs, and salamanders. Their ability to consume a range of prey items reflects their adaptability and their role in controlling these species’ populations.

Despite their secretive nature, Scarlet kingsnakes are often encountered by humans due to their striking appearance. They are of particular interest in the herpetological pet trade, which has led to overcollection in some areas. While they are currently listed as Least Concern by conservation authorities, habitat destruction through urban development and agriculture continues to pose a threat to their populations.


Population est.
United States

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No