The gray-banded kingsnake, whose scientific name is Lampropeltis alterna, is a species of the Colubridae family native to the desert regions of western Texas, southern New Mexico and several northern Mexican states. Sporting a gray body with red to orange bands often accented by thin black and white stripes, the average adult grows to about 3 feet in length. The species is secretive and is rarely encountered in the wild.
The gray-banded kingsnake is found in a variety of habitats throughout its range, including canyons, rocky hills, limestone ridges, boulder piles and desert flats at elevations up to 7,500 feet. They're able to survive extreme heat by spending much of their lives underground, in crevices and beneath debris.
In the wild, this nocturnal snake feeds mainly on lizards and rodents, while also eating bats, birds, frogs and other snakes on occasion. Its main predators are badgers, coyotes, foxes, peccaries, raccoons, skunks, weasels and wild cats.
In early summer, females lay clutches of three to 15 eggs in a secluded nest after a gestation period of 30 to 50 days. The eggs hatch after about nine weeks of incubation, and the newborn snakes range from 6 to 12 inches in size. Their calm disposition, small size and striking color make them a popular specimen in the exotic pet trade.