Cajun Speckled King Snake Lampropeltis getula holbrooki


Below: A brightly colored adult Cajun speckled king snake from our colony

Cajun speckled king snake Lampropeltis getula holbrooki Jeff Davis Parish, Louisiana

Below: View of nearly patternless ventral of the snake picture above

Cajun speckled king snake Lampropeltis getula holbrooki Ventral

Cajun country in Southwestern Louisiana is home to some of the most beautiful king snakes anywhere. The speckled king snakes of this region are often very colorful,  with orange-yellow to bright yellow speckling on a black background. Our favorite specimens have bright ventral coloration that extends up on to the lower sides. Several of ours have nearly patternless yellow ventrals.

Below: Another spectacular adult from our colony

Cajun speckled king snake Lampropeltis getula holbrooki

Below: An evenly speckled subadult Cajun speckled king snake from our collection

Cajun speckled king snake Lampropeltis getula holbrooki

This is a fairly new breeding project for us. The results are not yet refined by years of selective breeding, so we expect a certain amount of variation in the offspring. Our baby speckled king snakes have crossbands which become less distinct as they mature. Many of the babies have orange coloration on the ventral. We expect this to fade as they mature, but we have not yet raised enough of these to anticipate how this affects the eventual coloration of the adults. We will be selecting for bright colored adults with even speckling and little trace of the juvenile crossbands.

Below: An Juvenile Cajun speckled king snake showing orange ventral coloration

Cajun speckled king snake Lampropeltis getula holbrooki Juvenile Ventral



In the Wild

Below: Cypress swamp and bayou in Southern Louisiana

Cypress Swamp Jeff Davis Parish, Louisiana

Southwest Louisiana was once a region of swamps, prairies, and extensive marshlands. Those habitats still exists, but much of the area has been highly modified for agriculture. The water is now managed in an extensive network of bayous, canals, and ditches. Levees and dikes surround these waterways as well as rice paddies, which are flooded and drained at various times of the year. As anyone familiar with king snakes across their range will attest, alterations like this are not necessarily detrimental to king snake populations. In fact, the population of speckled king snakes is robust, due at least in part to the fact there is a huge prey base of rodents, snakes, lizards, turtle eggs, and frogs available on the levees. 

Below: Rice paddy and levee in Southwest Louisiana

Rice Paddy Louisiana

Snakes are easily located in this area by walking along levees and dikes during times of mild temperatures. Often it seems that every few steps reveals another snake. The most abundant species are Gulf Coast ribbon snakes and plainbelly water snakes. Broadbanded water snakes, diamondback water snakes and western cottonmouths are also very common, as are the speckled king snakes.

Below: Daniel Parker with pair of speckled king snakes found together on a levee

Daniel Parker Cajun speckled king snakes Lampropeltis getula holbrooki

Abandoned barns and other structures provide opportunities for flipping tin. Speckled king snakes are commonly found under tin and other cover in the spring and fall. Texas rat snakes are also abundant around structures and under tin.  Copperheads may also be seen near river floodplains.

Below: Flipping tin near an abandoned barn

Daniel Parker Flipping tin barn Louisiana

The style of field herping in this area will seem familiar to anyone with experience in South Florida. The methods are very similar, however, we noticed that the snakes were much more abundant in Lousiana. One difference in the management of the agricultural landscape here as compared with South Florida seems to be the use of chemicals. Here, the levees were lush with soft grass and abounded with life of all kinds. Some had apparently been intentionally burned to control the growth of brush. In Florida, this is usually accomplished by the spraying of herbicide. Canal banks that have been sprayed become virtually lifeless and eventual erode because there is no vegetation to hold them in place. We did find a railroad track running through what appeared to be perfect habitat that had been sprayed. We found very few snakes there. A local resident told us that he had seen far fewer snakes since chemicals had been used in the area. The use of prescribed burning has been shown to be beneficial to wildlife in many habitats. It sounds like an interesting idea for the canal banks in agricultural areas of South Florida.

Below: Juvenile speckled king snake found under tin

Cajun speckled king snake Lampropeltis getula holbrooki Juvenile



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