Common Kingsnake Control and Removal (Lampropeltis getula)
common Kingsnake Control is a common problem, Kingsnakes are great to have around. After all, they love to eat rodents! But when their numbers on our property get too high, or they move inside our homes, often something must be done. Here’s what you need to know when dealing with a possible common kingsnake.
A first step in snake control is to identify what kind of snake you have. The common kingsnake is a beautiful animal (if you like snakes, that is) – a glossy black, blue-black or dark brown with a series of white chain-like rings. It’s a strong, medium-bodied snake, usually reaching 2-4 feet long at maturity.
The common kingsnake is a constrictor. It’s nonvenomous, and therefore harmless – to humans, that is. But incredibly, they’re not harmless to other (venomous) snakes. Immune to poisonous venom from other snakes, thanks to a special enzyme, it will eat rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouth water moccasins and even coral snakes (this guy is our friend). Other prey includes lizards, small turtles, frogs, birds, and small mammals (moles, mice, rats, etc).
There are seven subspecies of common kingsnakes in North America. As subspecies do, their ranges sometimes overlap, and interbreeding does occur. Generally speaking, kingsnakes are found in the eastern, southern, and western US.
· Eastern kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula getula) are found on the east coast of North America from southern New Jersey south through Florida. Can reach a length of 2-5 feet. They are solid-bodied, black snakes with yellow or white crossbars extending down their back.
· Florida kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula floridana) are found on the peninsula of Florida, near swamps, marshes, and dikes. Very similar to eastern kingsnakes, but with black zigzags on the belly.
· California kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula californiae) are restricted to arid areas in southwestern California and Baja California; they have black patches bordering red and white stripes (like other kingsnakes, they’re nonvenomous).
· Speckled kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula holbrooki) are found in southwestern Illinois, eastern Iowa, and south central Alabama. Can reach a length of 51 to 132 cm; black with distinctive yellow speckles.
· Black kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula niger) is found west of the Appalachian mountains and east of the Mississippi River; this includes West Virginia to southern Ohio, southeastern Illinois, and northern Alabama. They’re almost a solid black, except for a series of faint white or yellow crossbars.
· Outer Banks kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula sticticeps) is found only in North Carolina.
· Black desert kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigrita) can be found in southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico.
If you’re ever bitten by a common kingsnake, make sure to get it checked out. Common kingsnakes are not venomous, but with any wild animal bite there’s a risk of infection.
Common Kingsnake Control
There are several steps to dealing with snake problems: making your property less inviting to snakes, which includes making your property less inviting to the rodents they feed upon; and dealing with any snakes that are already there.
Habitat modification for Kingsnakes
In wooded, rural and riparian settings where snakes are common, their presence can be discouraged by eliminating stands of tall vegetation and removing piles of rock, lumber, and debris that might attract snakes to search for prey or shelter – especially close to buildings. Closing all entrances to rodent burrows make an area less attractive to snakes. It also helps greatly if one is persistent in controlling rats, mice, and field rodents in and around residences and other buildings.
Common Kingsnake Exclusion
· Structural gaps and crevices larger than 1/4 inch and within three feet of grade should be closed off; snakes can pass through very small openings.
· Screens on crawlspace vents should have mesh smaller than 1/4 inch.
· A thorough search should be made for cracks in the foundation, unscreened crawlspace vents, torn screens, and gaps around basement window frames.
· Check clearances under doors; seal any gaps with weatherstripping.
· Look for improper sealing where plumbing and utility lines penetrate the foundation of the building.
Checklist for Rodent Proofing Your Home
While we can’t guarantee that you’ll never have mice or rats in your home, taking these measures will reduce your risk of having rodents – and the snakes that feed on them – move into your home.
_ Repair or replace damaged ventilation screen around the foundation and under eaves.
_ Provide a tight fitting cover for the crawl space.
_ Seal all openings around pipes, cables, and wires that enter through walls or the foundation.
_ Be sure all windows that can be opened are screened and that the screens are in good condition.
_ Cover all chimneys with a spark arrester.
_ Make sure internal screens on roof and attic air vents are in good repair.
_ Cover rooftop plumbing vent pipes in excess of 2 inches in diameter with screens over their tops.
_ Make sure all exterior doors are tight fitting and weatherproofed at the bottom.
_ Seal gaps beneath garage doors with a gasket or weatherstripping.
_ Install self-closing exits or screening to clothes dryer vents to the outside.
_ Remember that pet doors into the house or garage provide an easy entrance for rodents.
_ Keep side doors to the garage closed, especially at night.
_ Keep your trees trimmed, and your bushes and vines thinned. Make sure trees are trimmed back from the house at least 4 feet.
_ Keep lids on garbage cans.
_ Clean up all debris in the yard and storage areas.
_ Seal around your attic.
_ Don't leave pet food outside, especially at night.
_ Pick your citrus as soon as it is ripe. Remove any fallen citrus from the ground.
_ Store wood at least 18 inches above the ground and 12 inches away from walls.
_ Eliminate standing water and fix leaky faucets.
Common Kingsnake Removal
If you’re confident that you do indeed have a common kingsnake in your house, and you want to deal with it yourself, try this: place a trashcan on the side of the snake, and use a broom or a similar tool to gently sweep it inside the trashcan. Relocate it well away from residential areas, and seal up any openings in your house where it can get back in.
If you have any doubt about which kind of snake you have, or if you suspect several, a call to a snake control company is warranted. A good snake control company will be able to help correctly identify your snakes, advise you on further steps to take to minimize the number of snakes that move onto your property and how to keep them out of your home, will be able to present you with trapping and removal options, will be knowledgeable of all local and state laws regarding the animals, and will carry all required licenses.