The Alien Invasion silently continues across the island, with increased sightings of California King Snakes in the previously serpent-free wilds of Gran Canaria.
The number of captured snakes, of the species Lampropeltis Californiae, on Gran Canaria, has already exceeded the number captured last year as a whole. With a total so far of 839 snakes collected by end of August, the forecast is that the number will reach about 900 before the end of the year.
Californian King snakes have been found here since 2008, which is when their existence within the Gran Canaria natural environment was first detected.
It is thought that the current population are all descended from a breeding pair of rare Albino California Kings which were most likely released into the wild by irresponsible pet owners more than a decade ago.
Since first having been discovered here the government have spent millions on programmes to try to reduce the population, until finally 3 years ago it was declared too late. Those who have experience of the California King, which bears no threat to people, say that the more than 5,000 sightings may only account for 1% of the current total population. With no natural predators, and an island filled with rodents and lizards which have never adapted to being preyed upon by a species like this, their number is expected to continue to grow year on year.
The California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae) is among the most common snakes in North America, and very popular amongst people who keep this type of animal as a pet. They are generally shy animals, docile and non-poisonous. Lampropeltis can have different coloured patterns, an alternating banded or striped pattern. In nature, the colour pattern is black with white or cream-coloured bands. There are actually more than 70 recurring patterns and colour combinations, but many of these basic patterns are extremely variable within their own parameters.
SPECIES, HABITATS AND BIODIVERSITY. The diet of this species is quite varied, including rodents, small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and even eggs. They detect prey using smell and their ability to sense movement, searching for food along the ground, under rocks and bushes. Generally, they capture and swallow their prey alive, using two methods: pushing their victims against rocks or the walls of a burrow to immobilize them, or by constriction, coiling themselves around their prey, causing death by suffocation. The Kingsnake is oviparous (as in they lay eggs) and the size of an egg clutch usually ranges from 3-24, after a gestation period of between 45 to 65 days post-mating. Sexual maturity is reached at age 2.
This means we now could have at more than 6 generations of this species, previously unknown in the canary islands, that are breeding exponentially.