King snakes and black snakes are reptiles belonging to the Colubridae family, and both species are native to North America and can be found throughout the continent.
Although the king and black snakes look similar at first glance, there are several ways to tell them apart.
Here we will look at the differences between these two types of snakes so that you can spot them in the wild.
Size and Color
Looking closely, you may notice that king snakes have broader heads than black snakes.
They can be shades of brown, black, or grey and are sometimes mistaken for rattlesnakes because they also have diamond-shaped patterns on their backs.
Black snakes are much narrower in appearance, with black skin and white spots on their bodies.
They’re usually nocturnal animals that eat frogs and lizards.
King snakes are found in arid regions of the western United States, while black snakes prefer wetter, more temperate environments.
King snakes prefer rocky areas with plenty of cover, whereas black snakes are often found in swamps and marshlands.
King snakes are more active and spend more time in the open.
They bite when they feel threatened, but this is only to ward off predators.
If you have a king snake as a pet, it will often run away rather than fight if cornered.
Black snakes are more secretive and typically hide under rocks or logs to avoid detection by potential predators.
These species also use camouflage as an effective defense mechanism when threatened by people or other animals that could harm them (like dogs).
In addition to fleeing danger, black snakes may release musk from their anal glands when stressed out, which can irritate your eyes if you’re not careful.
Black snakes tend not to bite unless provoked.
King snakes are constrictors and eat rodents, mice, and other small animals.
They have a diet of primarily rodents and birds.
Black snakes do not kill their prey but wait until it dies of natural causes or is dead before consuming it.
Thus they have different dietary needs thanking snakes.
The black snake’s diet consists of insects, spiders, and even earthworms, making them easy to distinguish from the king snake because they don’t eat meat.
The black snake and king snake are both ovoviviparous, which means they retain their fertilized eggs inside their bodies until they hatch.
The female black snake lays her eggs in a nest, and once she has done so, she will curl up around them to incubate them by absorbing body heat through her skin.
This process takes about 60 days (or three months), after which the baby snakes break out of their eggs and make a dash for freedom.
Two types of nests can be found in nature: those made by females who have mated but not yet laid any eggs; these are called “dry” nests, as opposed to “wet” ones that contain living embryos ready to break out into the world.
One female can lay as many as 20 eggs at once—on average, this is about 80-100 per season—and each egg measures approximately 2 inches long when fully grown.
King snakes are more extensive than black snakes, and their stripes are thicker.
Their range also overlaps with other species of snake, but they generally do not defend themselves against them as fiercely as they do when dealing with other kingsnakes.
They’re also known for being more aggressive than black snakes on average—hence why some people think that all king snakes are aggressive.