Based on stomach contents of museum specimens and published records (n = 51 prey items), Lampropeltis zonata eats lizards (37, 72.5%), squamate eggs (6, 11.8%), mammals (6), and birds (2, 3.9%). Juveniles feed on lizards, especially Sceloporus (spiny lizards) and Eumeces (skinks), whereas adults supplement their diet with squamate eggs and endothermic prey. Prey items are located by active foraging, usually swallowed head-first, and average 33% of snake mass. The diet of L. zonata overlaps substantially with that of several other species of sympatric, medium- to large-sized snakes in mesic western North American woodlands; it is narrower than that of the more widely distributed L. getula, and similar to that of allopatric, more closely related L. alterna and L. pyromelana.
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Vol. 2003 • No. 2