Lifer Z 'cincta

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Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by Zach_Lim »

LIFER- Sierra Mountain Kingsnake

As a child, I would thumb through my Stebbins’ Western Reptiles and Amphibians field guide and stare in awe at the California Mountain Kingsnake- a tricolored snake with a jet black head with black that bled into its red and white bands. A truly “dirty” looking serpent with heavy black crossovers. In my young eyes, it was so wild and elusive. My love of herping was truly sparked by this snake. I knew one day that I would find one in the wild.

I have found many Coast Mountain Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis zonata multifasciata) in the San Francisco Bay Area- beautiful, small snakes with perfect bands and little to no black crossovers. Don’t get me wrong, ‘fasciata are my favorite mountain kings. However, I still needed my “Field Guide” Z. So, with the help of Chad Lane, I headed up into the Sierras.


Joined by Marissa Ishimatsu, we bushwhacked our way deep through the hills and slides of the Sierras to reach Chad’s prime ‘cincta spot. Reaching a life transition zone of pine-oak forest, we began checking cracks in the granite, as well as flipping rocks.

Within the cracks laid Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes and California Striped Racers. Lizards bounced from rock to rock. After some checking, Chad and Marissa found the coils of a huge Z in a crack! Evidently, it was the same one that Marissa had found a week prior! This was a great sign.

It soon got really hot up in the mountains. The granite was hot to the touch. Surely, the snakes would have gone under the escape the heat, right? Was the hunt over?

Nearly calling it a day, we began trekking out of the mountain side. As Marissa photographed a baby Racer that I found, Chad and I decided to give the Z hunt another go.
I flipped a small rock laying on the dirt….

A flash of black and white caught my eye! Was that a bit of red? Wait, it is bolting down a hole!

With a quick grab, I called out to Chad for some help.


Sierra Mountain Kingsnake! I just rock flipped my first Sierra Z! A beautiful, high black Z with tons of crossovers! The most beautiful snake I have ever found!


I am still excited about this find. I finally found a snake that I have wanted to see my entire life.

This is what herping is all about. Damn, is this what life is all about it?




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Re: Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by sjfriend »

Gotta love when a lifer is also such a stunning animal.

And it is amazing how often it's the last rock flipped.


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El Garia
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Re: Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by El Garia »

Good job, Zach! I'm happy for you, man :beer:

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Re: Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by yolodave »

Fairy tale ending to a great story. Congratulations Zach, it's a beautiful serpent.


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Re: Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by dave_zeldin »

So rad dude. Hard work and determination pays off. Congrats dude.

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by Brian Hubbs »

I like Mtn Kings... :thumb:

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Re: Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by JAMAUGHN »

Wow, man. What a snake. Congrats!


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Re: Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by RobertH »

Congrats from the two us too, Zach. I can tell from your narrative how deeply meaningful this find was and is for you. That definitely IS what herping is all about (though perhaps not all of life).
And it is amazing how often it's the last rock flipped.
I have had the same experience a few times, but later realized that more likely what is going on is simply this: It's the last rock (or log) because once a much sought-after target like a zonata has been found, most people stop flipping and go home to celebrate. At least that's what we tend to do, well, unless we strike gold in the first hour or so. But with the odds being what they are, you need to turn a good number of rocks to find what you are after, making success in the first hour or so unlikely. Hence it doesn't happen often - and we are led to believe we found our target under the last rock of the day. :D


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Re: Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by gopher »

Congrats Zach! Nice save before it got away too.
This is what herping is all about. Damn, is this what life is all about it?
I can name a few things that I need in life and herping is up there!

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Re: Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by LouB747 »

Yeah, that's a nice looking snake Zack. Congrats. You in SoCal now?

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Re: Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by yoloherper »

Sweet snake and great pics!

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Re: Lifer Z 'cincta

Post by rtdunham »

Good for you, Zak.

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