Watchable Wildlife: Snakes

Arkansas Today

It’s summer in Arkansas, and snake sightings are not uncommon. Learn a bit more about the speckled king snake, and you’ll wish for one in your yard.

How many types of snakes live in AR?

36 species of snakes, six of which are venomous. The speckled king snake is harmless, and non-venomous—they are 36 to 48 inches long and are shiny black with yellow spots.

Why would I want a speckled king snake in my backyard?

They are built in pest control and eat other snakes including venomous snakes (thus the name “king snake.”) Copperheads are a common part of their diet and they are able to eat snakes that are equal to or greater than their own body size. They’ll also east small mammals (mice, rats), lizards, and occasionally small birds and their eggs. They kill their prey by constriction.

Where do they live?

They are found statewide in a variety of habitats—from urban backyards to swamps, forests, prairies, and pastures. They are often found hiding under flat rocks, old pieces of tin, debris in old junk piles, and wood piles.

What are they up to this time of year?

The summer is spent foraging for prey, hiding and occasionally basking in the sun. They are active foragers—they catch the scent of potential prey and track it down, using their tongue to follow the scent.  Gravid females will lay their eggs toward the end of summer; hatching takes place in the fall.

What if I can’t get over being scared of snakes and want to keep them out of my yard?

Keep your lawn mowed short and trim around all buildings. Snake do not like to move over open ground. Remove piles of rocks, brush, logs or other debris. Make sure your home is well sealed—replace weather stripping and caulk around cracks. Minimize mulch and low-growing plants around your home.

Learn more with the free Arkansas Snake Guide

or call 501-223-6352

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