Common king snake (Lampropeltis getula).—Jack Dermid
Any of seven species of snake (genus Lampropeltis, family Colubridae) found in numerous habitats from southeastern Canada to Ecuador. They kill by constriction; named for their practice of eating other snakes, they also take small mammals, amphibians, birds, and birds' eggs. They are mainly terrestrial and relatively slow-moving. Strikingly marked and smooth-scaled, they have a small head and are usually less than 4 ft (1.2 m) long, though some specimens may approach 7 ft (2 m). The common king snake, found throughout the U.S. and in northern Mexico, is usually black or dark brown, variously blotched, ringed, or speckled with yellow or white.