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Black Kingsnake <image courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources>

  • Adult body length: 36 - 45 inches, record 58 inches.
  • Body length when hatched: 9 - 12 inches.
  • Breeding period: In Ohio probably May and June.
  • Young per year: 3 - 24 eggs.
  • Life Expectancy: at least 24 years.
  • Typical foods: birds, mammals, lizards and other snakes, including venomous ones.


The Black Kingsnake is shiny black in color. It is marked with a rather faint chainlike pattern, which is made up of small white or yellowish spots. Some individuals are almost plain black. The scales are smooth, without keels and the anal plate is single.

Overall Range
Western West Virginia to eastern Illinois, and south to northwestern Georgia and northern Alabama..

Range in Ohio
Ohio is at the northern limit of the Black Kingsnake's range. This snake is found only in a few counties in the south-central part of the state.
Black Kingsnake Ohio Map

Local Habitat
Dry, rocky hillsides and prairies, open woods, and stream valleys. In Ohio this snake seems to prefer the bottomlands of the Ohio and Scioto Rivers.


In early spring and in fall this snake basks in open sunlight. During later spring and in summer it remains concealed beneath rocks and logs, and becomes active at night when it hunts for food.
The Black Kingsnake is a constrictor. It throws one or more coils around the body of its prey and squeezes until the overcome food is suffocated. It appears that the Black Kingsnake is immune to the venom of Rattlesnakes and Copperheads. It can successfully overcome any of the three venomous snakes in Ohio and eat them, even after having been bitten repeatedly.


ODNR, Division of Wildlife, "Species A-Z Guide"

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© 2001 Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN)
The Ohio Historical Society (OHS)
Date of last revision: 06/25/2003
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