Lampropeltis mexicana / Mexican kingsnake - Care
|Scientific name:||Lampropeltis mexicana|
|Reproduction:||oviparous / egglaying|
Lampropeltis mexicana (&ssp), (Garman, 1884)
Mexican king snakes are a popular species belonging to the colourful group of the king and milk snakes (Lampropeltis). There are several subspecies are still under some debate as to whether this are actually subspecies, species or ‘just’ locality forms. The best known in the hobby and subspecies names used are the Lampropeltis mexicana mexicana, L. m. Greeri and L. m thayeri. The Lampropeltis alterna was seen as a subspecies of Lampropeltis mexicana for years but on bases of its range and scalation is now classified as a separate species.
General appearance: This is a medium sized colubrid that will get about 80 to 100cm. The base colour is different shades of grey with a pattern of spots or bands which can range in colour from dark grey, black to deep red.
Origin and habitat: This (sub)species are endemic to Northeast Mexico and all live in similar habitats. Thus the general care is similar for all variants. Their natural habitat are dry steppes, hills, desert and plains with lots of rocks and withered low vegetation. These snakes are sometimes also found in dry lightly wooded oak forests and grasslands. This species is most active at dusk and night. They live a reclusive live and will hide when disturbed. In captivity this species proves it is not a shy snake that will be seen a lot as long as there are enough hiding places.
- - Lamproletis mexicana occurs mainly in the east of Mexico.
- - Lampropeltis mexicana 'greeri' finds its origin in the mountainous regions of the Mexican state of Durango
- - Lampropeltis mexicana 'thayeri' is endemic to the eastern parts of the plateau Tamaulipas Mexico. In the state of Nuevo Leon.
It is not inconceivable that in captivity there are various crosses of different localities and subspecies through ignorance of the origin or the search for a different colour or combination.
Mutations: In the hobby people breed with various mutations and variants. Especially the Thayeri has many variants from nearly patternless animals to the "milksnake” phase. Also, there are melanistic animals. The most known mutation within the nominate is the 'Granite'
Housing: Kingsnakes are an easy species in captivity when it comes to care and feeding. Adult animals can, as almost all Lampropeltis species, best be kept separate outside the breeding season to avoid cannibalism. Adult animals be housed in a terrarium that has a floor surface of at least 80x40cm. Given these snakes almost never climb the height of the terrarium is not as important and therefor this species can also be kept well in a rack system. But a setup like this eliminates the possibility for observation and enjoyment in taking care of these animals. Offer a loose dry soil so that the animals can dig. Although they naturally live in areas with lots of sand and rock it in captivity usually is translated into the use of beech chips or Zoomed Aspen Snake Bedding. Reptibark is also good and more natural-looking option. Provide adequate shelters in different temperature zones in the terrarium. Misting is not required but you can be always place a box with damp moss to help during the shedding period, this box also may be used to lay any eggs. Remove faeces and sheds immediately. Be sure to change the complete substrate once a month.
Heating can be done by means of a heating spot or heating matt. Naturally, these are not sunning animals but they warm up by lying between the stones heated by the sun. The average air temperature must be 25C on the cool side to 30C on the warm side with a hotspot of 30-35C.
Diet: Newly hatched animals can sometimes be difficult to start up on baby mice. This is because they naturally mainly feed on small lizards. It would then help to rub a (live) pinky mouse along a lizard. Scenting the mouse so make it smell like a lizard. Ones they feed on these scented mouse the transition to unscented prey is often quickly made. Ones Lampropeltis feed there is not a lot that will lower their feeding response. The first year they can be fed every five days. Feed adults once a week to 10 days, several small or a medium-sized prey. Prey that are to large will often get declined.