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California kingsnake        Images © Mark A. Chappell

California kingsnakes (Lampropeltus getulus californiae) are one subspecies of a highly variable serpent found across much of temperate North America.   Kingsnakes are famous for their ability to overcome and eat rattlesnakes, but they basically eat any small vertebrate they can catch, subdue, and swallow.   They are nonvenemous, but are powerful constrictors.   In California, most have the ringed appearance seen here.   These were photographed near Riverside, California.

  • Canon 1D Mk. II, 1D4, or 7D2; 500 mm IS lens + 1.4X converter and extension tube, 100-400 Mk. II zoom, 100 mm macro lens, or 150 mm Sigma macro lens; fill-in flash (2006, 2013, 2016)