You might encounter a kingsnake in your backyard on a monsoon evening - a time when activity of the species often increases.
That could be a good thing if you're not a big fan of rattlesnakes.
Why? Because non-venomous, rather innocent-looking kingsnakes often attack, kill and devour rattlers.
In fact, some desert dwellers view kingsnakes as a sort of natural rattlesnake-control service.
"Kingsnakes do prey on rattlesnakes and other snakes, and consume them," said Tim Snow, a biologist and non-game specialist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
How in the name of herpetology does a non-venomous serpent - typically 3 or 4 feet long - subdue and chow down on a venom-packing rattler?
"They have an ability to catch their prey and then constrict it," Snow said.
A kingsnake "will bite the head area of the prey and then wrap around the body. They tighten their grip so the prey can't expand and breathe. They are suffocating their prey."
The result is often a dead rattlesnake, which the kingsnake then swallows whole and digests.
But what about the rattlesnake's deadly venom? Why doesn't it kill an attacking kingsnake?
"If bitten," says a Game and Fish Department publication, kingsnakes "have blood proteins that counteract the effects of the venom."
Snow noted that kingsnakes vary in color - from black to black and yellow for desert kingsnakes to hues of coral with black bands for mountain kingsnakes.
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4192.