Black Kingsnake

Lampropeltis nigra


The Black Kingsnake is a darker kingsnake species of the “getula” complex in Mississippi. They range in the extreme northeast corner of the state, though Mississippi likely represents a gradient of morphology and influence from the Speckled Kingsnake (Conant & Collins, 1998). They inhabit woodlands, grasslands, and sloped areas (Powell et al., 2016). They have been formerly considered a subspecies of the Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula). This species primarily constricts and eats other snakes, such as copperheads and cottonmouths, but may cannibalize as well as eat rodents, frogs, or other small vertebrates. Considered consolidated (or lumped) as the only L. getula Complex kingsnake species east of the Mississippi River by recent genetic studies.

Adult Black Kingsnake, © Kevin Hutcheson

Identifying Traits

  • Glossy black scales with reduced yellow or cream markings
  • Juveniles may be semi-banded or speckled


Woodlands, prairies, drainage swamps and wetlands


Relatively secretive, but active during the day, and occasionally nocturnal in the warmer parts of the year. Usually active in morning and dusk.


Snakes, lizards, frogs, small mammals

Black Kingsnake, © Kevin Hutcheson