Although I have some other species as well, kingsnakes and milksnakes are my favorite snakes. In past years, it’s become unusual to see kings or milks for sale at local reptile expos, especially directly from breeders or keepers. Occasionally resellers would have them, but usually just California Kingsnakes, which aren’t on my wish list. The last local expo was a pleasant change, though. Multiple vendors had kings and milks, and many of them were the breeders of those animals or selling an ‘extra’ from their personal collections.
My collection began years ago with a Mexican Black Kingsnake hatchling, Lampropeltis getula nigrita. He was one of my first purchases after getting my first apartment without roommates to complain about rodents in the freezer. Although he’s full grown now, I have another young Mexican Black Kingsnake that I’m raising, possibly to be his mate in a couple years.
My youngest snakes are the most colorful of my collection. And this second young kingsnake is possibly the most exciting of my collection. She’s a young Arizona Mountain Kingsnake, Lampropeltis pyromelana pyromelana. Personally, I find the normal coloration of Arizona Mountain Kingsnakes to be some of the most appealing of the mountain kings.
I also have a pair of young Pueblan Milksnakes. I’ve only been able to get a decent picture of the female, however. The male just won’t calm down enough for a picture.
None of the snakes above are venomous or dangerous in any way. The colorations mimic defense colors in other species, and appearing dangerous is what keeps them a bit safer from predators, in theory.
Eastern Hognoses are a new species for me. Years ago I missed out on the opportunity to acquire a melanistic Eastern Hognose. I never quite got over that, and have wanted one ever since, so when I got this girl, it was really nice to check this animal off my wish list. She still have juvenile coloration, but she’ll darken as she ages.
The melanistic Hognose is currently my trickiest snake, since she’ll only eat scented mice. In the wild, they prefer amphibians, but they’re not always easy to come by for feeder animals. As long as they smell like frogs, she’ll eat pretty reliably. The goal, of course, is to get her onto unscented mice.
One of the interesting things about Hognose snakes is their defence posturing. They flare their throats like cobras and puff up, as below. Although this may work against predators, it tends to scare uneducated humans who tend to think that all wild snakes are venomous. While Hognoses are rear fanged, they are only mildly venomous, similar to a bad bee sting with swelling and pain for some people. They are not deadly, however.
I’ll be on the lookout for a male Arizona Mountain King and a male Eastern Hognose soon, but I have plenty of time, as both of those girls are very young still. Despite their age, I’m already looking forward to those pairings, as well as some other colubrids I have my eyes on. More on those later!