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Lampropeltis pyromelana -- Arizona Mountain Kingsnake
DESCRIPTION: A medium-sized (up to 1,088 mm or 43" in total length) snake with alternating red, black, and white bands. The white bands are bordered by black bands. The black bands become wider mid-dorsally and often merge together at the midline of the back thereby "bridging" across the red bands. The black bands become more narrow on the lower sides and often disappear before reaching the belly. The head is noticeably wider than the neck and the snout is white or cream colored. The pupils are round and the scales are smooth and shiny. Its light colored snout distinguishes this snake from the similar looking Milksnake.
DISTRIBUTION: In Arizona this snake is found at elevations ranging from 3,000' to 9,000'. Its range extends from the extreme northwestern corner of the state, across the central mountains and Mogollon Rim country, into the "sky island" mountain ranges of southeastern Arizona.
HABITAT: This snake occupies communities ranging from Interior Chaparral up through the highest elevations of Petran Montane Conifer Forest. It is often found on heavily wooded, rocky slopes or in steep canyon bottoms with abundant leaf-litter, fallen logs, and rocks. It also inhabits relatively open rolling hills and grasslands in transition zones.
BEHAVIOR: The Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake is primarily diurnal but is occasionally found out on warm, moist nights. It is frequently encountered foraging in the mid-morning or just before sunset. this snake is primarily a ground-dweller but is adept at climbing and is occasionally encountered in trees or high on boulders. It hibernates during the cold months of late fall and winter. When captured this snake does not hesitate to bite and discharge foul-smelling musk and feces.
DIET: This relatively powerful constrictor preys on lizards, rodents, birds, and bats.