Other common names

Chain Kingsnake, Common Kingsnake, Eastern King Snake

Basic description

Most adult eastern kingsnakes are about 36-48 inches (90-122 cm) in total length. These snakes are solid black to chocolate brown, with several narrow white to yellowish crossbands down the back and a narrow chain-like pattern on the sides. The neck is indistinct and the scales are smooth and shiny. Juveniles resemble adults in color and pattern.

large black snake with tan rings
Eastern kingsnake. Photo courtesy of Todd Pierson.

Range in Florida

Eastern kingsnakes are found north of a line from Pinellas County to Flagler County and west into the Panhandle, excluding the eastern Apalachicola lowlands south of Telogia Creek. They are occasionally found on barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico (e.g., the Cedar Keys). Eastern kingsnakes are also known to interbreed with other kingsnake species throughout large portions of their range.

Assessment of risk to people and pets

Non-venomous. Eastern kingsnakes are not dangerous to people or pets, but they occasionally bite to defend themselves. These snakes avoid direct contact with people and pets. Virtually all bites occur when people intentionally bother the snakes.

Comparison with other species

snake with small dark checked pattern
Photo courtesy of jakescott/iNaturalist

Apalachicola Kingsnake (Lampropeltis meansi) Non-venomous Apalachicola kingsnakes have either fewer than 26 wide crossbands with considerably lightened interbands or they are non-banded (striped or patternless). They typically have 21 scale rows at midbody.

coiled snake with black and yellow scales
Photo courtesy of Todd Pierson.

Florida kingsnake (Lampropeltis floridana) Non-venomous Florida kingsnakes have more than 34 light crossbands on the body, lightening of the black interband scales, a degenerate lateral chain-like pattern, and usually 23 scale rows at midbody.

Share your observations

You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.

Additional helpful information

Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.

Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions or feedback on this profile.

Banner photo courtesy of Todd Pierson. Please credit any photographers on the page and see our copyright policy.