Back to Education Index

This page is about the marvellous Grey Banded King Snake (Lampropeltis alterna)

  • The Grey-banded Kingsnake (Lampropeltis alterna), sometimes referred to as the alterna, is a species of nonvenomous colubrid snake. It is found in the Trans-Pecos/Chihuahuan Desert region of western Texas, southern New Mexico, and northern Chihuahua.
  • Grey-banded kingsnakes are a medium sized snake and can grow up to 4 ft in length, with the average being 3 ft. They have a relatively wide head (when compared to other kingsnake species), and have large eyes with round pupils.
  • Alterna coloration and patterning vary greatly, but there are two main colour morphs, which were once considered separate subspecies: the "Blair's" which has wide red/orange banding, and the "alterna" which has thinner orange/red banding. Both are generally on a grey background with white and/or black accenting. There are many variations on this basic morphology found in the wild and captive bred, with some specimens even lacking orange or red banding entirely.
  • In the wild, grey-banded kingsnakes are a common species, but nocturnal and quite secretive. Their natural range is sparsely populated with humans, and many regions are virtually impassable due to the mountainous terrain. Most that are located are found along the roadways that transect their habitat in the Trans Pecos region. Alterna generally have a calm disposition and are not prone to defensive reactions, like biting.
  • They feed primarily on snakes, lizards, rodents and frogs. Also lizard eggs, snake eggs and the Canyon Tree Frog (Hyla arenicolor) have also been reported as prey.

    Click HERE for a Pueblan Milk Snake care sheet.