This is a large snake that grows to lengths of 36-48 in. (90-122 cm). It is a shiny black snake with series of thin, white to cream crossbars or spots on the back. The belly is covered with alternating black and white patches.
Juveniles are patterned like adults. Mating presumably takes place in the spring. Known egg laying dates in Virginia are between 16 and 22 June. Clutch size is 9-17. The kingsnake may discharge musk from glands at the base of the tail and vibrate its tail when disturbed. It may also coil itself into a ball and hide its head in the coil.
This species is terrestrial, and is most often found under surface objects, such as boards, logs, tar paper, and car hoods. Kingsnakes are diurnal, but are occasionally found on roads at dusk.
One thing thissnake is known for is its taste for other snakes. Kingsnakes regularly hunt and eat all snakes including venomous species.