There are eight known species of kingsnakes. They are in the Lampropeltis family and part of the non-venomous Colubridae family. Lampropeltis is a Greek word meaning 'shiny skin' that may have been chosen for the kingsnake's glossy scales. Kingsnakes are not venomous and pose no threat to humans. They are often kept as pets and prized for their vibrant colors and beautiful patterns. Kingsnakes are actually beneficial to humans. They keep rodent populations down and eat other snakes. Kingsnakes are sometimes mistaken for venomous coral snakes, but they are a completely different species.
The common name of the kingsnake comes from its habit of eating other snakes. The king cobra eats other snakes as well. Kingsnakes in North America are resistant to rattlesnake, copperhead, and cottonmouth venom. Resistance is provided by enzymes that break down venom. The kingsnake's ability to kill and eat venomous snakes is rare. They are only resistant to venomous snakes in the same location.
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