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Lampropeltis californiae (BLAINVILLE, 1835)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Common NamesCalifornia Kingsnake (including the Black Desert Kingsnake, C. g. nigrita) 
SynonymColuber (Ophis) Californiae BLAINVILLE 1835: 292
Ophibolus boylii BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 83
Coronella californiae — DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 623
Lampropeltis boylii var. conjuncta COPE 1861: 301
Coronella getulus var. californica — JAN 1865
Ophibolus getulus eiseni YARROW 1882
Lampropeltis boylii — STEJNEGER 1893: 204
Lampropeltis nitida VAN DENBURGH 1895: 143
Lampropeltis conjuncta —VAN DENBURGH 1895: 142
Lampropeltis boylii — VAN DENBURGH 1896
Lampropeltis yumensis BLANCHARD 1919
Lampropeltis catalinensis VAN DENBURGH & SLEVIN 1921
Lampropeltis getulus boylii — FITCH 1936
Lampropeltis getula yumensis — KLAUBER 1938
Lampropeltis getula nigrita ZWEIFEL & NORRIS 1955: 238
Lampropeltis getulus yumensis — COCHRAN 1961: 188
Lampropeltis getulus conjuncta — DE LISLE 1978
Lampropeltis getulus californiae — SEUFER & JAUCH 1980
Lampropeltis getula yumensis — SEUFER & JAUCH 1980
Lampropeltis getulus catalinensis — MURPHY & OTTLEY 1984
Lampropeltis getulus californiae — STEBBINS 1985: 191
Lampropeltis getulus nigritus — STEBBINS 1985: 192
Lampropeltis catalinensis — GRISMER 1999
Lampropeltis getula nigrita — CROTHER 2000: 64
Lampropeltis getula californiae — CROTHER 2000: 64
Lampropeltis getula californiae — MATTISON 2007: 127
Lampropeltis californiae — PYRON & BURBRINK 2009
Lampropeltis getula californiae — LEMM et al. 2013
Lampropeltis getula californiae — LAITA 2013
Lampropeltis getula nigritus — LAITA 2013
Lampropeltis californiae — WALLACH et al. 2014: 356
Lampropeltis getula californiae — WEBER et al. 2016
Lampropeltis getula conjuncta — NCBI TAXONOMY 2016 
DistributionUSA (California, S. Oregon, W/S Nevada, S Utah, Arizona
Mexico: Baja California, Sonora.

Introduced to Gran Canaria (Hilger & Kwet 2015).

Type Locality: ‘California’ (Blainville 1835). Restricted to Fresno, California by Schmidt (1953).

catalinensis: Isla Santa Catalina.

conjuncta: Cape San Lucas. Map legend:
TDWG region - Region according to the TDWG standard, not a precise distribution map.

NOTE: TDWG regions are generated automatically from the text in the distribution field and not in every cases it works well. We are working on it.
Reproductionoviparous. KREUTZ (2005) reports hybrids between Elaphe (= Pantherophis) guttata and Lampropeltis getulus californiae, between E. (P.) guttata and L. pyromelana, between E. (P.) guttata and L. triangulum sinaloae/nelsoni, and between E. (P.) guttata and L. zonata! 
TypesHolotype: unknown (fide PYRON & BURBRINK 2009).
Holotype: CAS 50514 [catalinensis]
Syntype: ANSP 3573 [conjuncta]
Holotype: MVZ 50814 (adult male) [nigrita] 
CommentDiagnosis: The California Kingsnake (L. californiae) is a medium- to large-bodied constrictor, with a mean adult size range of 76–122cm, and a maximum size of ~200cm (Stebbins 2003). In both sexes, ventral scale counts range from 213–255, with 46–63 subcaudal scales in males and 44–57 in females (Blaney 1977). Scales are smooth and anal plate single, with 23–25 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The California Kingsnake exhibits one of the broadest ranges of any kingsnake species, occupying most habitats west of the continental divide at the Cochise filter barrier (Fig. 2). The species ranges from Oregon in the north, through the Great Basin in Nevada and Utah, east to extreme southwestern Colorado, south through the majority of California, Arizona and the Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California Norte, and Baja Sur (Fig. 2). The California Kingsnake can be distinguished from other species on the basis of color pattern, possibly the most distinct of the group. Throughout the majority of their range, California Kingsnakes exhibit a black or dark brown ground color, with 21–44 broad crossbands of white or light yellow, which typically widen laterally. Along the Pacific coast from Los Angeles to San Diego counties, individuals can be found possessing a black or dark brown ground color and a single thin, white dorsal stripe beginning at the neck and continuing to to the tail (Fig. 3). Finally, populations in the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa may exhibit considerable ontogenetic darkening, with adults, and occasionally subadults and even juveniles turning jet black, with almost no trace of pattern (Blaney 1977; Stebbins 2003). To which species the Sonora populations belong is unclear; while we group them with L. californiae on the basis of geography, some authors have suggested that they resemble and hybridize with both L. g. ‘splendida’ and L. g. ‘californiae’ (Blanchard 1921; Blaney 1977) [from PYRON & BURBRINK 2009].

Subspecies: GRISMER 1999 elevated Lampropeltis getulus catalinensis to full (evolutionary) species status although there is only one specimen known. The subspecies is not listed in LINER 1994.

NCBI taxonomy ID: 165019 (conjuncta) 
EtymologySpecific epithet refers to the type locality. 
  • Anguiano, Michael P. and Jay E. Diffendorfer 2015. Effects of Fragmentation on the Spatial Ecology of the California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae) Journal of Herpetology Sep 2015, Vol. 49, No. 3: 420-427. - get paper here
  • Baird, S. F. and C. Girard. 1853. Catalogue of North American Reptiles in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Part 1.-Serpents. Smithsonian Inst., Washington, xvi + 172 pp. - get paper here
  • Blainville, Henri Marie Ducrotay de 1835. Description de quelques espèces de reptiles de la Californie précédée de l’analyse d’un système général d’erpétologie et d’amphibiologie. Nouv. Ann. Mus. Hist. Nat. Paris 4: 233-296 - get paper here
  • Blanchard, Frank N. 1919. Two new snakes of the genus Lampropeltis. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan (70): 1-11 - get paper here
  • Blaney, Richard M. 1977. Systematics of the common kingsnake, Lampropeltis getulus (Linnaeus). Tulane Studies in Zoology and Botany 19 (3-4): 47-103 - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1860. Catalogue of the Colubridae in the Museum of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, with notes and descriptions of new species. Part II. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 12: 241-266 - get paper here
  • Crother, B. I. 2000. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Herpetological Circular 29: 1-82
  • Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Seventh Edition. Herpetological Circular 39: 1-92
  • De Lisle, H.F. 1978. Key to the snakes of Baja California. Herpetology 9 (4): 11-20
  • Duméril, A.M.C., and G. Bibron. 1835. Erpétologie Générale ou Histoire Naturelle Complète des Reptiles, Vol. 2. Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret, Paris, iv + 680 p. - get paper here
  • Fitch, H. S. 1936. Amphibians and reptiles of the Rouge River Basin, Oregon. American Midland Naturalist 17: 634-652 - get paper here
  • Grismer, L. Lee. 1999. An evolutionary classification of reptiles on islands in the Gulf of California, México. Herpetologica 55 (4): 446-469 - get paper here
  • Hilger, Axel & Axel Kwet 2015. Die Schlangenpest Terraria Elaphe 2015 (5): 78-81 - get paper here
  • Jackson, K., N. Kley, and E. Brainerd 2004. How snakes eat snakes: Biomechanical challenges of ophiophagy for the California kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula californiae (Serpentes: Colubridae). Zoology 107 (3):191-200.
  • Jan, G. 1865. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 14. Livraison. [Elapomorphus d’Orbignyi, Coronella getulus var. Sayi]. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Klauber, Laurence M. 1938. Notes from a herpetological diary, I. Copeia 1938 (4): 191-197 - get paper here
  • Laita, Mark 2013. Serpentine. Abrams and PQ Blackwell, Auckland, New Zealand, 200 unnumbered pages
  • Lemm, Jeffrey M., Brett A. Gaborko and Matthias C. Lemm. 2013. Lampropeltis getula californiae (California kingsnake) elevation. Herpetological Review 44 (2): 331
  • Lillywhite, Harvey B. 2014. How Snakes Work: Structure, Function and Behavior of the World's Snakes. Oxford University Press, New York, 256 pp
  • Love, B. 2011. Sweet (New) Home Arizona. Reptilia (Münster) 16 (90): 14-15 - get paper here
  • Mattison, Chris 2007. The New Encyclopedia of Snakes. Princeton University Press
  • Murphy, R. W.; Ottley, J. R. 1984. Distribution of amphibians and reptiles on islands in the Gulf of California. Annals of the Carnegie Museum 53 (8): 207-230 - get paper here
  • Philippen, Hans-Dieter P 2014. Vielfalt ist Trumpf. Draco 16 (57): 6-15 - get paper here
  • POWERS, MICHAEL 2015. Lampropeltis getula californiae (California kingsnake): Juvenile aggregation Herpetological Bulletin (132) - get paper here
  • Pyron, R. Alexander; Frank T. Burbrink 2009. Systematics of the Common Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula; Serpentes: Colubridae) and the burden of heritage in taxonomy. Zootaxa 2241: 22-32 - get paper here
  • Rodríguez-Robles, Javier A., Good, David A., Wake, David B. 2003. Brief History of Herpetology in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, with a List of Type Specimens of Recent Amphibians and Reptiles. UC Publications in Zoology, 119 pp.
  • Seufer, H. & Jauch, H. 1980. Die Kettennatter Lampropeltis getulus Teil 2. Herpetofauna 2 (7): 31-32 - get paper here
  • Seufer, H. & Jauch, H. 1980. Die Kettennatter Lampropeltis getulus. Herpetofauna 2 (6): 11-14 - get paper here
  • Stebbins,R.C. 1985. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, 2nd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston
  • Stejneger,L.H. 1893. Annotated list of the reptiles and batrachians collected by the Death Valley Expedition in 1891, with descriptions of new species. North American Fauna, No. 7: 159-228 (+ 14 plates + 4 maps) - get paper here
  • Van Denburgh, J.; Slevin, J. R. 1921. Preliminary diagnoses of more new species of reptiles from islands in the gulf of California, Mexico. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (4) 11 (17): 395-398 - get paper here
  • Van Denburgh, John 1896. Additional notes on the herpetology of Lower California. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (2) 5: 1004-1008 - get paper here
  • Van Denburgh,J. 1895. A review of the herpetology of Lower California. Part I - Reptiles. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (2) 5: 77-163 - get paper here
  • Weber, David J., Gordon W. Schuett and Melanie Tluczek. 2016. A citizen science survey of the herpetofauna of Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Arizona, USA. Herpetological Review 47 (1): 5-10
  • Werning, Heiko 2012. Die Reptilien und Amphibien des Südwestens. Draco 13 (50): 18-60 - get paper here
  • Yarrow,H.C. 1882. Description of new species of reptiles and amphibians in the US National Museum. Proc. US Natl. Mus. 5: 438-443 - get paper here
  • Zweifel, Richard G. 1981. Genetics of color pattern polymorphism in the California kingsnake. Journal of Heredity 72: 238-244
  • Zweifel,R.G. and Norris,K.S. 1955. Contributions to the herpetology of Sonora, Mexico:Descriptions of new subspecies of snakes (Micruroides euryxanthus and Lampropeltis getulus) and miscellaneous collecting notes. American Midland Naturalist 54: 230-249 - get paper here
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