The King Snakes


    The king Snakes are found from southern Canada to northern south America in a variety of habitats, including swamps, marshes, deserts, and mountains.  They are in the genus Lampropeltis, which means “shiny, small shield,” referring to their small, dorsal scales.  There are currently eight recognized species and forty-eight subspecies sporting a vast array of colors and patterns, varying from solid black, as with Mexican black king snake, to red, yellow, and black bands, as with the scarlet king snake and most milk snakes.  King snakes are constrictor’s, meaning that they kill their prey by wrapping their body around it and constricting it.  Their diet consists of small mammals, lizards, birds, amphibians, eggs, and even other snakes.  They are highly resistant to the venom of poisonous snakes, which they will also eat, and this ability to overpower even rattle snakes and eat them has earned them the name king snake.

       King snakes use several methods of defense when encountered.  Not only will they aggressively bite, but they will vibrate their tail as a nervous reaction, which, if the snake happens to be in dry leaves, can sound very similar to a rattlesnakes rattle.  If caught, they can also spray a foul-smelling musk, much like a skunk will do, but not nearly as bad smelling.  Another method of defense that some king snakes use is mimicry of poisonous snakes.  One species of king snake that uses mimicry is the Milk Snake, of which there are twenty-five subspecies.  Many of its subspecies have red, black, and yellow bands, making them look very similar to the deadly coral snakes, which sport the same colors of banding but in a different sequence.  In the coral snake, the red and yellow bands touch each other, while in the milk snake the red and yellow bands are separated by a black band.  This method of separating them does not consistently hold true once you head south of the U.S./Mexican border, where there are different species of coral snakes and their milk snakes mimics.  Another interesting thing about the milk snake is how they got their name.  Historically, they were commonly found around cow barns where they were mistakenly believed to suck the udders of cows for milk, but in reality they were after the mice that lived in the barns.


          Just as the king snake overpowers and devours deadly poisonous snakes, so has our King Jesus overcome our deadly enemy, Satan, in our behalf.

      “When Jesus came to the world, his own nation despised Him, His friends denied him, His brethren did not believe on Him.  The unbelief with which He was met was indeed a bruising of His heel.  Christ, the world’s redeemer, was buffeted with temptation, but it had been written of Him, He shall not fail, nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth, ‘Through the very bruising of His heel by Satan, because of affliction, temptation, and sorrow, Christ was gaining the victory in behalf of the human family; for He triumphed over His enemy in not yielding to his temptations, and thus bruised the head of the serpent.  He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself, and every pang of anguish He suffered, every temptation He resisted, as man’s substitute and surety, was elevating the human family in the scale of moral worth, and was procuring for man deliverance from Satan’s power and bondage.  The character of Satan, through his efforts to overcome and destroy the Son of God, was developing before the universe, and was being made manifest in its true malignity before the unfallen worlds that had been created by Christ.  Every time he stung the heel of Christ with his murderous fang, the serpent was making more sure his own discomfiture and ruin.”



S T March 26,1894


David Arbour