Kingsnakes are a group of nonvenomous snakes that belong to the genus Lampropeltis, which means “shiny shield” in Greek. They are found in various habitats across North America, from Canada to Ecuador. They are known for their ability to prey on other snakes, including venomous ones, and for their diverse and colorful patterns. But which of the following is most closely related to the kingsnake?
Common milk snake
The common milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulatum) is one of the most widespread and variable species of kingsnake. It has a tricolored pattern of red, black, and white or yellow bands, similar to some coral snakes. However, it can be distinguished by the order of the bands: red on black, a friend of Jack; red on yellow, kill a fellow. The common milk snake ranges from southeastern Canada to northern South America, and inhabits forests, fields, farms, and suburbs. It feeds on rodents, birds, eggs, lizards, and other snakes. It lays 5 to 24 eggs in late spring or summer.
The scarlet kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides) is a small and slender species of kingsnake that also mimics the coral snake’s coloration. It is found in the southeastern United States, from southern New Jersey to Florida and west to Louisiana. It prefers moist habitats such as pine flatwoods, hardwood forests, and swamps. It mainly eats lizards, frogs, salamanders, and other snakes. It lays 3 to 12 eggs in late spring or early summer.
The California kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae) is a subspecies of the common kingsnake that occurs in western North America, from Oregon to Baja California. It has two main color forms: banded and striped. The banded form has white or yellow rings on a black or brown background, while the striped form has white or yellow stripes along the length of the body. The California kingsnake inhabits a variety of habitats, such as deserts, grasslands, woodlands, and urban areas. It feeds on rodents, birds, eggs, lizards, and other snakes. It lays 5 to 12 eggs in late spring or early summer.
The answer is: **the common milk snake**. The common milk snake is the only species in this list that belongs to the same species as the kingsnake: Lampropeltis triangulatum. The scarlet kingsnake and the California kingsnake are different species within the same genus: Lampropeltis elapsoides and Lampropeltis californiae respectively. Therefore, they are more distantly related to the kingsnake than the common milk snake.