California kingsnakes are an integral part of Anza’s ecosystem

California kingsnakes can come in many color combinations, from speckled or black or brown and white bands to this striped morph. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
One of the most common – and harmless – reptilian residents in the Anza Valley is the California kingsnake. This sleek serpent is also the state snake; California is mentioned in its scientific name – Lampropeltis californiae. While plentiful in the forest, woodland, chaparral, grassland, marshes, deserts and brushy suburban areas, kingsnakes can be secretive, quietly hunting rodents, young birds, eggs, invertebrates, amphibians and other snakes. They are welcomed by area residents for their ability to overcome and eat rattlesnakes without harm, being immune to the rattlers’ venom. Known as a powerful constrictor, the kingsnake coils tightly around its prey until it suffocates its prey. California kingsnakes rarely grow larger than 48 inches in length. The most commonly
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