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Lampropeltis holbrooki STEJNEGER, 1902

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Speckled Kingsnake 
SynonymLampropeltis getula holbrooki STEJNEGER 1902: 152
Lampropeltis getulus holbrooki — ALLEN 1932
Lampropeltis getulus holbrooki — BURT 1935
Lampropeltis getula holbrooki — CROTHER 2000: 64
Lampropeltis getula holbrooki — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 421
Lampropeltis holbrooki — PYRON & BURBRINK 2009
Lampropeltis holbrooki — CROTHER et al. 2012
Lampropeltis getula holbrooki — LAITA 2013
Lampropeltis holbrooki — WALLACH et al. 2014: 358
Lampropeltis getula holbrooki — GUYER et al. 2018 
DistributionUSA (S Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma; isolated record in NW Kentucky. Intergrades with splendida from Nebraska to Texas)

Type Locality: ‘Valley of the Mississippi’ (Holbrook 1842), restricted to Hot Springs, Arkansas (Schmidt 1953).  
TypesHolotype: unknown (fide PYRON & BURBRINK 2009). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: The Speckled Kingsnake (L. holbrooki) is a medium- to large-bodied constrictor with a maximum adult size of 183cm and a mean adult range of 90–122cm (Conant & Collins 1998). Scales are smooth, anal plate single, and midbody scale rows number 19–25 (Blaney 1977). Ventral scales number 197– 222 in both sexes, with subcaudals ranging from 46–59 in males and 37–51 in females (Blanchard 1921; Blaney 1977). The Speckled Kingsnake occurs west of the Mississippi River, from Iowa and Nebraska in the north to the Gulf Coast, and west to west-central Texas (Fig. 2). The majority of the range of L. holbrooki is characterized by the ‘speckled’ pattern, which consists of a black ground color, with a white or yellow speckle in the center of each scale, and very occasionally a faint trace of dorsal crossbanding (Fig. 3). Large geographical areas harboring at least superficial morphological intermediacy between the Speckled Kingsnake and the Desert lineage in west central Texas are apparently inhabited only by the Speckled Kingsnake, suggesting that such color pattern variation may be due to phenotypic responses to ecological gradation, rather than hybridization or introgression (Pyron & Burbrink 2009c). The precise western extent of the range of L. holbrooki is unclear, but ecological niche modeling predicts that the range extends approximately to the Pecos and Rio Grande River drainages (see Fig. 4 in Pyron & Burbrink 2009c; Fig. 2) [from PYRON & BURBRINK 2009]. 
CommentSynonymy: Stejneger’s name is a new name for Holbrook’s Coronella sayi, as he explains: “A new name must be given to Holbrook's Coronella sayi, and I propose to call it Lampropeltis holbrooki. The name was originally proposed by Holbrook under the misapprehension that it was the species previously described by Schlegel ag Coluber sayi. Holbrook [1842: 99] expressly calls the species "Coronella sayi - Schlegel;" in the synonymy he quotes Coluber sayi, Schlegel. Phys. des Serp., tom. II, p. 157;" and at the end of the article (p. 101) he says: "Schlegel was the first naturalist who published a description of this beautiful animal, in his excellent work entitled Essai sur la Physionomie de Serpens." Schlegel's Coluber sayi, however, is an entirely different snake, viz, Pituophis sayi, and Holbrook's misapplication of the name given by Schlegel is consequently inadmissible for the present species. This principle is recognized by all codes of nomenclature, and I need not specifically quote the A. O. U. Code, Canon XXXIII.” (Stejneger 1902: 153) 
EtymologySpecific epithet is a patronym honoring John Edwards Holbrook, a prominent American herpetologist of the 19th century, known as the ‘father of North American Herpetology’. 
  • Allen, Morrow J. 1932. A survey of the Amphibians and reptiles of Harrison County, Mississippi. American Museum Novitates (542): 1-20 - get paper here
  • Burt, Charles E. 1935. Further records of the ecology and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the middle west. American Midland Naturalist 16 (3): 311-336 - get paper here
  • Cohen, Henry. 2014. Lampropeltis holbrooki (speckled kingsnake) longevity. Herpetological Review 45 (1): 61 - 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
  • DAWSON, JEFFREY E. 2022. LAMPROPELTIS HOLBROOKI (Speckled Kingsnake). DIET. Herpetological Review 53(3): 511.
  • Dixon, James R. 2000. Amphibians and reptiles of Texas, second edition. Texas A&M University Press, 421 pp.
  • EVERSOLE, C. B., A. J. MULLANEY, A. KOENIG, AND B. A. EVERSOLE 2020. Lampropeltis holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake). Marine Habitat Use. Herpetological Review 51: 147-148.
  • Guyer, Craig; Mark A. Bailey, and Robert H. Mount 2018. Lizards and snakes of Alabama. University of Alabama Press, 397 pp. - get paper here
  • Holbrook, John E. 1842. North American Herpetology; or, A description of the reptiles inhabiting the United States. Vol III (2nd ed.). J. Dobson, Philadelphia, 128 pp. - get paper here
  • Konvalina, John D., Stanley E. Trauth, Christopher S. Thigpen and Samuel A. Schratz. 2015. Lampropeltis holbrooki (spreckled kingsnake) diet. Herpetological Review 46 (4): 645 - get paper here
  • Laita, Mark 2013. Serpentine. Abrams and PQ Blackwell, Auckland, New Zealand, 200 unnumbered pages
  • Martin, Daniel J., Cameron L. Aldridge, Celina Bycenski, Beth A. Wittmann, Devin L. Jacobs, Jake R. Milford and Larissa L. Bailey. 2015. Geographic Distribution: Lampropeltis holbrooki (speckled kingsnake). Herpetological Review 46 (1): 62 - get paper here
  • McAllister, C. T. 2016. Lampropeltis holbrooki (Specked Kingsnake) diet / ophiophagy. Herpetological Review 47(3): 479-480. - 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
  • Renner, D. 2013. Die Gesprenkelte Kettennatter, Lampropeltis getula holbrooki – Eine unterschätzte Schönheit. Reptilia (Münster) 18 (103): 60-64 - get paper here
  • Stejneger, L. 1902. The reptiles of the Huachuca Mountains, Arizona. Proc. US Natl. Mus. 25 [1902]: 149-158 - get paper here
  • SWARTWOUT, MEREDITH C. & JOHN D. WILLSON. 2022. Southeastern US Snake Species are Vulnerable to Egg Predation by Red Imported Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta). Herpetologica, 78(2):139-144. - get paper here
  • Tennant, A. & Bartlett, R.D. 2000. Snakes of North America - Eastern and Central Regions. Gulf Publishing, Houston, TX, 588 pp.
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Werler, John E. & James R. Dixon 2000. Texas Snakes. University of Texas Press, 544 pages
  • Williams, Avery A. 2016. Geographic Distribution: Lampropeltis holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake). Herpetological Review 47 (2): 262 - get paper here
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