Scarlet Kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides)
Scarlet Kingsnakes are beautifully colorful snakes, with alternating bands of red, black and yellow. The banding often extends across the belly. The red bands are always bordered by black bands. Scarlet Kingsnakes have smooth scales and a single anal plate.
Adults range between 14 and 20 inches in total length.
Scarlet Kingsnakes are uncommon in Kentucky. They are primarily confined to forested areas in extreme southern, eastern and western Kentucky.
Scarlet Kingsnakes are nocturnal and spend a majority of their lives underground or hiding among logs, leaf litter and other debris. They can be found by lifting up sections of bark on logs. Scarlet Kingsnakes are known predators of lizards, but also consume other snake species, amphibians and small mammals. Like other Kingsnakes, this species is a constrictor.
Scarlet Kingsnakes are nonvenomous, but are often confused with similarly colored and venomous Eastern Coral Snakes (Micrurus fulvius). Eastern Coral Snakes do not occur in Kentucky and they have red bands that are bordered by yellow bands. An additional similar species is the non-venomous Scarletsnake (Cemophora coccinea). Scarletsnakes are found in Kentucky, but have no banding on the belly. Scarlet Kingsnakes are a popular species in the pet trade. Due to rarity, it is considered a “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” by Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.