Comparison of Elaphe and Lampropeltis

Comparison of Elaphe and Lampropeltis

What's the difference between rat snakes (Elaphe) and king snakes (Lampropeltis)?
According to the Handbook of Snakes of the US and Canada, these are the major
characteristics that distinguish these genera from each other and from other genera
of colubrid snakes.




head distinct not distinct
anal divided entire
ventrals angulate not angulate
scales smooth or weakly keeled smooth
scale rows 25-33 17-27
upper labials 8-11 7
lower labials 11-16 9-11
loreal 1 1
nasals 2 2
preocular 1 1
postoculars 2 2-3
temporals variable usually 2+3+4
maxillary teeth equal, smooth subequal, 12-20


This information was taken from
Hanbook of Snakes of the US and Canada
by A. H. Wright & A. A. Wright
1957 Cornell University Press

More Information on Snakes

  • Lampropeltis Information
  • Snakes of North America.
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