On the popularity of Tarahumara Mountain Kingsnakes
Also called 'Chihuahua Mountain Kingsnakes' -- for the Mexican State they are native to -- Lampropeltis pyromelana knoblochi is by far my favorite snake to keep. Docile, beautiful and calm, "knobs" are a fantastic captive for beginners or advanced keepers. They thrive in basic caging -- tubs, glass tanks or plastic display enclosures. Few snakes are as reluctant as a mountain king to bite defensively. But knobs -- and all the montane kingsnakes -- are almost never found in reptile shops or even at most expos. Why are they not more popular?
One issue is they are not all that prolific. A corn snake clutch is 12-24 or more eggs. A milk snake clutch is around a dozen, but some -- such as the Pueblan milk snake L. t. campbelli -- routinely lays three clutches a year. But the current popularity winner among snakes, the ball python (P. regius) has clutches about equal in number to those of the Tarahumara mountain kings -- only six or eight eggs.
A more relevant consideration is that the hatchlings are challenging to feed. In the wild, mountain kingsnakes eat almost exclusively lizards after hatching. Starting hatchling montane kingsnakes is, frankly, a chore. While some feed on day old mice right after their first shed, many will go up to a year after hatching to eat their first rodent meal.