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Lampropeltis getula (LINNAEUS, 1766)

IUCN Red List - Lampropeltis getula - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Common Kingsnake
floridana: Florida Kingsnake
getula: Eastern Kingsnake
G: Ketten-Königsnatter 
SynonymColuber getulus LINNAEUS 1766: 382
Herpetodryas getulus — SCHLEGEL
Ophibolus getulus — BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 85
Coronella Getulus — DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 616
Coronella getulus var. pseudogetulus JAN 1865
Ophibolus getulus — COPE 1875: 11
Ophibolus getulus — GARMAN 1884: 68
Ophilobus [sic] getulus — COPE 1892: 335
Triaeniopholis arenarius WERNER 1924
Triaenopholis [sic] arenarius WERNER 1924 (fide SMITH 1928)
Lampropeltis getula sticticeps BARBOUR & ENGELS 1942
Lampropeltis getulus goini NEILL & ALLEN 1949: 101
Lampropeltis getulus brooksi BARBOUR 1919
Lampropeltis getula floridana BLANCHARD 1919
Lampropeltis getulus — DESSAUER & POUGH 1975
Lampropeltis getulus sticticeps — LAZELL & MUSICK 1981
Lampropeltis getula — STEBBINS 1985: 191
Lampropeltis getula — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 205
Lampropeltis getula — LINER 1994
Lampropeltis getula getula — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 413
Lampropeltis getula floridana — CROTHER 2000: 64
Lampropeltis getula floridana — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 416
Lampropeltis getula floridana — HALLMEN 2005
Lampropeltis getula meansi KRYSKO & JUDD 2006
Lampropeltis getula meansi — SKUBOWIUS 2009
Lampropeltis getula — PYRON & BURBRINK 2009
Lampropeltis getula goini — RENNER in BERG 2013
Lampropeltis getula floridana — LAITA 2013
Lampropeltis floridana — KRYSKO et al. 2017: 9
Lampropeltis getula — KRYSKO et al. 2017: 9
Lampropeltis meansi — KRYSKO et al. 2017: 10
Lampropeltis meansi — KRYSKO et al. 2017: 10
Lampropeltis getula — WALLACH et al. 2014: 357
Lampropeltis getula getula — GUYER et al. 2018 
DistributionUSA (New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Colorado)

Subspecies not recognized any more (see comment):

floridana: S Florida. Intergrades with getula over much of Florida.

getula: S New Jersey to N Florida, west to the Appalachians, West Virginia and S Alabama. Type Locality: ‘Carolina’ (Linnaeus 1766), restricted to Charleston, SC by Klauber (1948).

goini: Florida panhandle; Type locality: “Chipola River valley at Wewahitchka, Gulf County, Florida”;

meansi: Florida (Eastern and SW Apalachicola Lowlands between the Apalachicola and Ochlockonee rivers and south of Telogia Creek, Franklin and Liberty counties. Type locality: Apalachicola National Forest on FH-13 ca. 3.2 km W SR 67, Liberty County, Florida, United States.  
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: MCZ 12456 [brooksi]
Holotype: Florida State Museum of Natural History; was: WTN 19211 (WT Neill, private collection) [goini]
Holotype: UF 73433 (field tag DBM 1360), an adult male [meansi]
Holotype: MCZ 46469 [sticticeps]
Holotype: USNM 22368 [floridana] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: The Eastern Kingsnake (L. getula) is a medium- to large-bodied constrictor, the largest in the genus Lampropeltis with a maximum total length of 208.3cm, though the average adult size range is 90– 122cm (Conant & Collins 1998). Scales are smooth, anal plate single, and individuals typically exhibit 19–25 scale rows at midbody. Ventral scales number 200 to 223 in both sexes, while subcaudals number 45–58 in males and 37–55 in females (Blaney 1977). The Eastern Kingsnake ranges from New Jersey to the Florida keys in the east, and west to the western panhandle of Florida and southeastern Alabama (Fig. 2). The species L. getula can be distinguished from all other related snakes primarily on the basis of color pattern, which can be divided into two primary variants. From northern Florida to New Jersey, individuals typically exhibit a dark brown or black ground color, which is punctuated by 17–36 narrow crossbands of white, yellow, or reddish yellow (Blaney 1977), giving the appearance of a ‘chain’ pattern (Fig. 3). In peninsular Florida, the bands increase in both number (22–54) and width, and the ground color lightens considerably to a light brown color with yellow stippling (Blaney 1977; Fig. 3). Isolated populations of other aberrant color pattern variants can be found in the panhandle of Florida (Krysko & Judd 2006). The shift between the Eastern Kingsnake and the Mississippi lineage is fairly abrupt, and previous authors have noted the narrow transition zone and apparent lack of morphological intermediacy in southern Alabama and central Georgia (Fig. 2, 3; Blanchard 1921; Blaney 1977; Mount 1980) [from PYRON & BURBRINK 2009].

Diagnosis (meansi). A large-sized, polymorphic population of Lampropeltis getula distinguished from all others by its overall light dorsal coloration, having either narrow or wide crossbands with considerably lightened interbands, or being non-banded (striped or patternless). Combinations of these basic phenotypes also occur regularly in the wild. The ventral pattern is also variable, being either bicolored, loose checkerboard with interspersed bicolored scales, or mostly dark.

Variation: L. g. californiae occurs in banded and striped forms. 
CommentType species: Herpetodryas getulus SCHLEGEL is the type species of the genus Lampropeltis FITZINGER 1843: 25. Lampropeltis is also the type genus of the tribus Lampropeltini (containing Arizona, Bogertophis, Cemophora, Lampropeltis, Pan- therophis, Pituophis, Pseudelaphe, Rhinocheilus, and Senticolis, fide Dahn et al. 2018).

Synonymy: Kaiser et al. 2013 considered the generic name Eksteinus Hoser 2012 invalid and rejected its use instead of Lampropeltis.

Distribution: records from Mexico (e.g. Coahuila, Baja California, Sonora, Lemos-Espinal et al. 2015, 2016) maybe based on older species concepts of this species. A report from Pakistan is obviously a misidentification (Younas et al. 2017). Records from Oklahoma and Kansas are now referred to L. holbrooki. See maps in Krysko et al. 2017: Figures 1, 2, 5.

Subspecies: Blaney (1977) noted 3 clusters of smoothly intergrading subspecies: (1) californiae, (2) nigrita - splendida - holbrooki - niger, (3) getula - floridana. The status of L. getula sticticeps BARBOUR & ENGELS 1942 was considered “questionable” (PALMER & BRASWELL 1995 but see LAZELL & MUSICK 1973 for a different opinion). Lampropeltis getula californiae (BLAINVILLE 1835), holbrooki, niger, and splendida have been revalidated to species status by PYRON & BURBRINK 2009. These authors consider floridana, meansi, goini, and sticticeps as synonyms of L. getula, and nigrita as a synonym of californiae. KRYSKO et al. 2017 recognized floridana as full species and synonymized brooksi and sticticeps with it.

Morphological intermediates (i.e., L. g. goini) between L. g. meansi and L. g. getula are found mostly in the surrounding region from southern Gulf and Franklin counties to the west, north to Calhoun County, and east into northern Liberty (north of Telogia Creek), Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, and Jefferson counties.

Phylogenetics: see Dahn et al. 2018 for a phylogeny of Lampropeltini. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet refers to the Getulian people of northern Morocco, whose tribal insignia bears a resemblance to the ‘chain’ pattern of the kingsnakes of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

L. g. meansi has been named after the collector of the type, D. Bruce Means.

The genus name was derived from the Greek words lampro, meaning "bright or clear" and pelte, meaning "a small shIeld," applied in reference to the shiny "scales." 
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