California kingsnake, the invasive snake species in Gran Canaria

california kingsnake gran canaria
Image credit: Gobierno de Canarias

California kingsnake is an invasive species in Gran Canaria and the authorities are actively trying to reduce their population each year, as invasive snakes pose a serious threat to island biodiversity, as they are responsible for wide-ranging impacts that are often understudied, particularly in regard to native reptiles.

Is anything being done to control the California kingsnake population in Gran Canaria?

The control device for the California king snake population in Gran Canaria captured fewer specimens in 2023 than in the previous two years, specifically 2,389 compared to the 2,676 eliminated during 2022 and the 2,648 that were caught throughout 2021. 

The fact that it barely rained during 2023 explains this reduction in the presence of snakes on the surface (because the population, far from decreasing, continues to increase) given that variations in atmospheric pressure constitute the determining factor for these animals to become active. to emerge from their nests underground.

The prevailing heat during 2023, contrary to what it may seem, is not enough motivation to leave their burrows.

Where is the California kingsnake population localized in Gran Canaria?

California kingsnake population is currently distributed in various parts of the island of Gran Canaria: in the municipalities of Telde, Santa Brígida, Valsequillo and San Mateo (main nucleus); Gáldar y Agaete (secondary nucleus); San Bartolomé de Tirajana and Mogán (tertiary core); and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

The Minister of Environment of the Cabildo of Gran Canaria stated that “after more than 23 years released into the natural environment, with a great capacity for adaptation, its population has spread to multiple places on the island and, although "It is harmless to human beings, it is tremendously harmful to the natural environment." 

The big problem with the presence of this ophidian is the impact on native biodiversity, especially the lizards, mullets and native perenquenes that are being seriously depleted in the areas where this snake lives, as demonstrated by studies carried out recently. by the IPNA-CSIC.

Are there dangerous snakes in Gran Canaria?

Is the California kingsnake in Gran Canaria venomous?

The California kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae) is a nonvenomous colubrid snake endemic to the western United States and northern Mexico. Due to ease of care and a wide range of color variations, the California kingsnake is one of the most popular snakes in captivity.

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