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Lampropeltis californiae (BLAINVILLE, 1835)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: California Kingsnake
S: Barila de California
G: Kalifornische Königsnatter
E: Mexican Black Kingsnake, Black Desert Kingsnake [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
Ophibolus getulus boyli — YARROW 1883: 92
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 getulus yumensis — KLAUBER 1931
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 californiae — STEBBINS 1985: 191
Lampropeltis getulus nigritus — STEBBINS 1985: 192
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 nigrita — REYES et al. 2014
Lampropeltis getula californiae — WEBER et al. 2016
Lampropeltis getula conjuncta — NCBI TAXONOMY 2016
Lampropeltis californiae — HEIMES 2016: 84
Lampropeltis nigrita — KRYSKO et al. 2017: 10
Lampropeltis nigrita — LEMOS-ESPINAL et al. 2019
Lampropeltis nigrita — LEMOS-ESPINAL & SMITH 2020 
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).

conjuncta: Cape San Lucas.

nigrita: Mexico (Sinaloa, Sonora); Type Locality: 49.2 km south of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.  
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: MNHN-RA 0.732 (but erroneously said to be unknown fide PYRON & BURBRINK 2009).
Syntypes: ANSP 3573, USNM 5288 etc. [conjuncta]
Holotype: MVZ 50814 (adult male) [nigrita]
Neotype: USNM 64585, designation by Slevin and Leviton (1956). Holotype also given as CAS 800 [nitida]
Holotype: USNM 1698 [Ophibolus boylii]
Holotype: USNM 11788 [Ophibolus getulus eiseni]
Holotype: USNM 61318 [Lampropeltis getulus yumensis] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: The California Kingsnake (L. californiae) is a medium- to large-bodied constrictor, with a mean adult size range of 76–122 cm, 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]. 
CommentSubspecies: 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.

Karyotype: Cole et al. 2019 reported the karyotype of a hybrid of Lampropeltis splendida × Lampropeltis californiae.

NCBI taxonomy ID: 165019 (conjuncta) 
EtymologySpecific epithet refers to the type locality. 
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  • Cole, Charles J.; Hardy, Laurence M. 2019. Karyotypes of six species of colubrid snakes from the Western Hemisphere, and the 140-million-year-old ancestral karyotype of Serpentes. American Museum novitates, no. 3926 - get paper here
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