March 21, 2019
Posted by: John Cassell
If you’ve stayed over at the lodge chances are you have heard of Mr. King, our resident, adult eastern kingsnake. He is a captive animal that we use to educate people on the benefits of having these reptiles in your backyards and woods. And like all other island residents Mr. King gets the benefits of free housing and delicious meals.
The eastern kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula) has one of the largest geographic ranges of any kingsnake species. They are found as north as NJ and as far south as FL. In the state of GA, they are protected by law from being taken as pets from the wild due to declining populations. These are strong constricting snakes that eat almost anything (lizards, rodents, birds, eggs, and other snakes). With an immunity to venom, they will readily take on cottonmouths, copperheads, and small rattlesnakes.
With the approach of spring Mr. King can feel the daily temperature changes from inside the naturalist office. Naturalists are encouraged to take him out for “walks”, which is important to his overall heath. Sunlight is as important for healthy scales as it is for human skin. Also, Mr. King, like a dog, loves to sniff around the grass and dirt sensing all the critters that have been there.