Body length: 30 - 82"
Diet: Snakes, mammals, and other vertebrates
This "king of snakes" is fabled to feed on other snakes, including larger snakes and even rattlesnakes. Unlike some snake stories, this one is true. Like many other snakes, kingsnakes are relatively immune to rattlesnake venom. However, kingsnakes are opportunistic feeders, and will also readily eat mice and other prey. In contrast to rattlesnakes, which envenomate prey, and whipsnakes, which kill prey by a combination of biting and suffocation with their body coils, kingsnakes are constrictors, meaning they suffocate prey by encircling them.
Common kingsnakes are found throughout most of Arizona. They are apparently not common at Tonto National Monument, but are most likely to be found north of the Visitor Center. Unlike most other desert snakes, kingsnakes are active both before and after dark, with their activity shifting to evening during the hotter months. While aggressive towards other snakes, kingsnakes have a reputation for being mild-mannered around humans.
Did You Know?
Tonto National Monument is home to a crested saguaro. Botanists disagree as to why some saguaros grow in this unusual form. Some speculate that it is a genetic mutation. Others say it is the result of lightning or freeze damage. About one in 150,000 saguaros develop this unusual growth.