Snakes strike fear into the hearts of many. Most people around the globe hope will never have to be in the presence of one. But snakes are also incredible creatures that others consider to be very beautiful. They are everywhere in a multitude of shapes and sizes, from the deadliest ones to others that will never present a danger for humans. Yet some braver souls chose to study them, catch them and even buy them to keep as pets.
The Gray-Banded Kingsnake is a beautiful species of snake, with gray bands of color alternating from the head to the end of the tail, separated by a thin line of black, next to a thinner line of white. Some specimens even present orange or red stripes. The two color variations are known as ‘alterna’ and ‘blairi’, respectively. These are moderately sized snakes growing to about 3 feet long usually. They have a relatively wide head with large eyes.
Lampropeltis alterna (by its scientific name) can be found mostly in Northern Mexico, Southeastern Texas and Southeastern New Mexico, living in arid, semi humid climates such as desert flats, canyons, and mountain areas. They feed on lizards, frogs, other snakes, and small rodents.
The Gray-Banded Kingsnakes are very shy and secretive snakes, living a solitary life. They are not often encountered primarily due to their nocturnal nature. But they are very popular among hobbyists, who catch them mostly at night using flashlights.
These snakes are often sold as exotic pets as they have a calm nature, are not prone to defensive reactions, like biting (they are nonvenomous as well) and are of relatively small size, so are easy to keep.
Hobbyists breed or crossbreed the Gray-Banded Kingsnake which usually lays around 3-13 eggs. The Kingsnakes breed after their winter hibernation, in the early summer. The breeding process takes about 30 days to produce the eggs, which hatch in approximately 9 weeks. The hatchlings range in size from 7 to 12 inches long.
The Western Hognose Snake, known as Heterodon nasicus by its scientific name, is a species of snake found in North America and Northern Mexico ranging from Southern Alberta and Northwest Manitoba, south to southeast Arizona, Texas, also in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas.
The Western Hognose Snake has a light sandy brown in color, with darker brown or gray blotching but the description varies according to the subspecies it belongs to – there are three in total (Plains, Dusty, Mexican). It lives mostly in relatively dry, sandy prairie areas, scrubland and river floodplains and feeds on toads, lizards, snakes, ground nesting birds, small rodents and reptile eggs. This snake is mildly venomous but its venom has little effect on humans and can cause mild swelling, redness or numbness at the most if bitten by one. They are not aggressive serpents and their attack method usually consists of a bluff attack with the mouth closed. The Hognose snakes are well known for using defensive displays such as neck flattening, hissing and playing dead. They are actually harmless.
The snake is active during the morning and late afternoon hours and it is solitary except during their breeding season, in March through April. Female Western Hognose Snakes lay somewhere between 4 and 23 eggs in June-August; these are elongated and have a thin shell. Hatchlings are 15-19cm in length and reach maturity after two years. It is one of the most common snakes found bred in captivity due to its docile nature, its small size of 2-3 feet and being easy to care for.
Rosy Boas come in 4 species with only 2 living in the United States. The Desert Rosy Boa is found in the deserts of Central Western and Southwestern Arizona, and adjacent southern California.
The Arizona Desert Rosy Boas are very beautiful snakes. The color variation of this snake starts from a dark grey to a light blue gray, with stripes from the head to the tip of the tail, the stripes themselves varying from a cinnamon brown to a bright orange coloration.
In the wild, they inhabit desert scrub containing prominent and abundant boulder piles which are utilized for hiding. They also hide in rodent holes – which are their main food source – and spend a significant amount of time inactive in hiding areas, venturing out only when looking for a mate or food.
They are regularly bred in captivity due to their attractiveness and docile nature. The Rosy Boa is relatively easy to care for and give live birth.