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Pantherophis obsoletus (SAY, 1823)

IUCN Red List - Pantherophis obsoletus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Serpentes (snakes) 
Common NamesE: Western Rat Snake, Black Rat snake (obsoleta)
E: Texas Rat Snake (lindheimeri)
E: Yellow Rat Snake (quadrivittata)
E: Everglades Ratsnake (rossalleni)
G: Erdnatter 
SynonymColuber obsoletus SAY 1823: 140
Georgia obsoleta — BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 158
Scotophis Lindheimerii BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 74
Coluber obsoletus — BOULENGER 1894: 50
Elaphe obsoleta — BURT 1935
Elaphe obsoleta deckerti — STANKOWSKI 1986
Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 197
Elaphe obsoleta lindheimerii CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 199
Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata — PALMER & BRASWELL 1995
Elaphe obsoleta — SCHULZ 1996
Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta — CROTHER 2000: 62
Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri — CROTHER 2000: 62
Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 379
Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 383
Pantherophis obsoletus — UTIGER et al. 2002
Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri — SCHMIDT 2004
Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri — HALLMEN 2005
Pantherophis obsoletus — BÖHME 2005
Pantherophis obsoletus — POTTS & COLLINS 2005
Pituophis obsoletus — BURBRINK 2007
Scotophis obsoletus — COLLINS & TAGGART 2008
Pantherophis obsoletus — PYRON & BURBRINK 2009
Pantherophis obsoletus quadrivittatus — MENSE 2010
Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri — LAITA 2013
Pantherophis obsoletus quadrivittata — LAITA 2013 
DistributionC/E USA (SE Nebraska, E Kansas, Oklahoma, E Texas, SE Minnesota, S/E Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, S Michigan, W Vermont, Pennsylvania),
S Canada

Type locality: “on the Missouri River from the vicinity of Isle au Vache [Cow Island] to Council Bluff” (Say, 1823); restricted to the vicinity of Cow Island, Leavenworth County, Kansas (Dowling, 1952).

obsoleta (fide BURBRINK 2001): west of the Mississippi River from S Louisiana along the Gulf Coast to S Texas, west to C Texas on the Edward’s Plateau, and through Oklahoma, C and E Kansas, SE Nebraska, SE Iowa, and extreme SE Minnesota. Compare to P. alleghaniensis

lindheimeri: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana. 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.
TypesSyntypes (3), (orig. PM), one specimen 1515 mm, present location unknown fide Dowling, 1952b: 4. 
CommentHybrids: BRÖER (1977) reports a hybrid between E. guttata guttata and E. obsoleta quadrivittata. Bechtel & Mountain (1960) report hybrids between Elaphe guttata and E. obsoleta rossaleni.

Distribution: not in Wisconsin (CNAH online, 2010).

Colour images: various subspecies in STANKOWSKI (1986) and SCHWEIGER (1995).

Subspecies: Elaphe obsoleta deckerti and E. o. parallela are not recognized as subspecies any more (CROTHER 2000). BURBRINK (2001) doesn’t recognize any subspecies of E. obsoleta but elevates some of its clades to species status. Illustration of E. o. lindheimeri in SCHMIDT (2004). 
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  • Bechtel, H.B. & Mountain, J. 1960. Interspecific Hybridization between Two Snakes of the Genus Elaphe. Copeia 1960 (2): 151-153 - get paper here
  • Blake, Hugh 1993. The Texas rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri) Vivarium 4 (6): 15-18
  • Blouin-Demers, Gabriel, Laura P. G. Bjorgan and Patrick J. Weatherhead 2007. Changes in habitat use and movement patterns with body size in black ratsnakes, Elaphe obsoleta. Herpetologica 63 (4): 421-429 - get paper here
  • Blouin-Demers, Gabriel; Gibbs, Lisle H. 2003. Isolation and characterization of microsatellite loci in the black rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta). Molecular Ecology Notes 3 (1): 98-99
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  • Burbrink, Frank T. and Robin Lawson 2007. How and when did Old World ratsnakes disperse into the New World? Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 43 (1): 173-189 - get paper here
  • Burt, Charles E. 1933. A contribution to the herpetology of Kentucky. American Midland Naturalist 14 (6): 669-679 - get paper here
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  • Collins, J.T. & Collins, S.L. 2009. A pocket guide to Kansas snakes, 2nd ed. Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita, 69 pp.
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