SPECIES: mexicana alterna
Usually has a pattern of gray crossbands, but can be completely diverse in color and pattern. Markings vary from narrow black rings with no red to broad blotches, more red than black. Belly is mostly white, black-blotched or black. Average 3 to 4 feet in length.
GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Rocky environments in arid brushland. Northern Mexico, southeastern Texas and southeastern New Mexico.
Carnivorous. Small mammals, snakes, lizards and frogs.
LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Lives in fissures or burrows. Emerges at night to forage. Brumation (hibernation) occurs from November to March with little activity during these months. Breeds in the spring and small clutches (4-13 eggs) are deposited beneath stones, logs or other warm, damp locations. Ten-inch hatchlings emerge after two months incubation. They do not necessarily resemble their parents or siblings in color or pattern. Life span is around 20 years.
If drought or dry weather patterns persist, they may retreat to underground quarters and limit outside activity to avoid dehydration.
The "alterna" in the scientific name refers to the morph with reduced primary markings.
One male acquired in February of 2008 at 6 months of age. He is gray with orange bands. He is used in our Education and Zoomobile programs and is not viewable by the public.
STATUS IN WILD:
Considered endangered in New Mexico only. Listed as a species of Least Concern by IUCN.