Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)

Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae

Eastern Kingsnake
Lampropeltis getula getula

Photo of Eastern Kingsnake courtesy of John White
Photo of Eastern Kingsnake courtesy of John White


36 - 48 inches. Record - 82 inches.


A shiny black or dark brown back encircled by thin white, cream or yellow “rings” or “links” in a chain-like pattern.
The pattern continues onto the belly but may be faded or obscure.
The small head is black with varying numbers of white or yellow spots.
Scales not keeled.


Use a variety of habitats including most forest types, old fields, freshwater marshes, stream banks and borders of swamps. Can be found in agricultural and urban areas within riparian zones.

How to Find

Walk stream banks, wetland edges and around old farm buildings looking under coarse woody debris and any large fairly flat pieces of refuse, including discarded boards, tar paper and even automobile hoods. Hiss and act aggressive when first handled, but quickly settle down and seldom bite. Non-venomous.

Photo of Habitat for Eastern Kingsnake courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
Photo of Habitat for Eastern Kingsnake courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers

Distribution in Maryland

Primarily a Coastal Plain species but will follow river valleys onto the Piedmont.

Maryland Distribution map for Eastern Kingsnake

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Maryland Amphibian
and Reptile Atlas Project

"A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.