Although this serpent lives in my home state of Ohio, it is uncommon there, listed as a “species of concern” and only found in a few counties. I’ve found several examples on different visits to various parts of Kentucky though.
This is a shiny, mostly jet black snake with a white, yellow or cream belly. Some spotting may occur particularly along its lower sides. The adult length averages about 3-1/2 feet long. Like other Common Kingsnakes, its head is not significantly offset from its body.
This species is a habitat generalist and can be found in hardwood and pine forests, bottomlands and swamps, farmlands, hillsides, meadows and suburban areas. Most of the examples I’ve found were under sheets of rusted metal in abandoned fields (including this one which has cloudy eyes because it is going through a shed cycle).
Eastern Black Kingsnakes are powerful constrictors eat a variety of different kinds of food, including snakes, lizards, rodents, birds and turtle eggs. They are resistant to the venom of pit-vipers and they readily eat copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes.
Kingsnakes are one of my favorite snakes to find in the wild and encountering these handsome reptiles has always been a herping highlight.