In the Wild
One of the many
canals cutting through the Everglades
The Miami Rim
Rock and southern Everglades is the historic domain of brooksi. The
king snake's coloration in this area is thought to be an
adaptation to the light oolitic limestone background. As in
other areas of Florida, the king snake population here has been greatly
reduced. Several factors contributing to this reduction have been
discussed, but the exact cause is still a mystery. One thing is for
sure, finding a nice Brooks' king specimen in the wild is now quite a
Anthony Flanagan inspects the edge of a path near a canal
edge. King snakes are now rarely seen at this locale, though
Burmese pythons are common.
Much of the founding stock for today's captive
bred kings was collected in decades past along the canals that
crisscross the area. Levees along the canals cut dry strips of land
through the expansive marshlands and provide habitat for numerous herp
species including eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, dusky pygmy
rattlesnakes, corn snakes, Everglades rat snakes, Everglades racers, and
Florida box turtles, as well as king snakes.
Below: A wild
Brooks' king snake found coiled in the shade of a poisonwood
The snakes were found basking on the canal banks
or out on the crawl when conditions were favorable, most commonly in the
spring. The more clever collectors selectively placed artificial cover
such as old carpets and boards in prime areas for king snakes. Brooks'
kings still turn up occasionally today, though it seems like more of them are found crossing roads, rather than by the
traditional collecting techniques.
looking wild king snake from southern
Miami-Dade County, FL.
Not every king snake found in this
area is a stunning example. Many specimens are average in
looks and can hardly be distinguished from a typical Florida king snake
from further north. Kings are much less commonly seen than the exotic
Burmese python, which now shares the same habitat. I have seen a
precious few specimens in many trips to south Florida in the last
decade. For even the most dedicated field herper, finding a nice brooksi in the wild is a true
wild young adult Brooks king snake from southern
Miami-Dade County, FL.
Parker holds a freshly caught Brooks' king
snake (Photo by Anthony Flanagan)