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Lampropeltis leonis (GÜNTHER, 1893)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Mexican Kingsnake 
SynonymCoronella leonis GÜNTHER 1893: 110
Lampropeltis leonis — BLANCHARD 1921
Lampropeltis leonis — LOVERIDGE 1924: 138
Lampropeltis thayeri LOVERIDGE 1924
Lampropeltis thayeri — SMITH 1944
Lampropeltis mexicana thayeri — GEHLBACH & BAKER 1962: 289 (part.)
Lampropeltis mexicana — GARSTKA 1982: 29 (part.)
Lampropeltis mexicana thayeri — HILKEN & SCHLEPPER 1998
Lampropeltis mexicana thayeri — LINER 2007
Lampropeltis leonis — HANSEN & SALMON 2017: 735 
DistributionMexico (Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí)

Type locality: ““Mexico, Nuevo Leon”

thayeri: Mexico (Tamaulipas, Nuevo León); Type locality: Miquihuana, Tamaulipas.  
TypesHolotype: BMNH (re-registered as 1946.1.4.10)
Holotype: MCZ 19551 [thayeri] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A moderate-sized (maximum TL = 1,219 mm) species of kingsnake characterized by extensive intra- populational and geographic pattern variation, including a coralsnake mimic pattern and a melanistic phenotype. This species is most similar to some populations of L. alterna and L. greeri, but differs from L. alterna by the presence of a golden-brown iris (vs. silver-gray in L. alterna), the head is only slightly distinct from the neck (vs. noticeably distinct in L. alterna), the eyes protrude only slightly from the outline of the head (vs. prominently so in L. alterna), and lower ventral scale counts (194–212 in L. leonis vs. 211–230 in L. alterna) (Fig. 18).
Compared to L. greeri, L. leonis exhibits high levels of pattern polymorphism as well as melanism. The snout and head color matches the body ground color only in some individuals of L. leonis, compared to matching in all specimens of L. greeri examined. Most individuals of L. leonis lack black post-ocular markings, which are present in L. greeri. Ontogenetic color pattern change is common in captive-bred L. leonis and absent in L. greeri (Figs. 25, 26). [HANSEN & SALMON 2017: 736] 
CommentSynonymy: mostly after HANSEN & SALMON 2017. Other authors still consider leonis as a synonym of L. mexicana (e.g. Nevárez-de los Reyes et al. 2016, Wallach et al. 2014: 358.).

Distribution: see map in HANSEN & SALMON 2017: 722 (Fig. 17). Not listed for Nuevo León by Nevárez-de los Reyes et al. 2016. 
  • Blanchard, Frank N. 1920. A synopsis of the king snakes: Genus Lampropeltis Fitzinger. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan (87): 1-7 - get paper here
  • Garstka,W.R. 1982. Systematics of the mexicana species group of the colubrid genus Lampropeltis, with an hypothesis [of] mimicry. Breviora (466): 1-35 - get paper here
  • Gehlbach,F.R. & Baker,,J. 1962. Kingsnakes allied with Lampropletis mexicana: taxonomy and natural history. Copeia 1962 (2): 291-300 - get paper here
  • Günther, A. C. L. G. 1885. Reptilia and Batrachia. Biologia Centrali-Américana. Taylor, & Francis, London, 326 pp. [published in parts from 1885-1902; reprint by the SSAR 1987] - get paper here
  • Hansen, R. W., and G. T. Salmon. 2017. Distribution analysis, taxonomic updates, and conservation status for the Lampropeltis mexicana group (Serpentes: Colubridae). Mesoamerican Herpetology 4(4): 700–758 - get paper here
  • Hilken,G. & Schlepper,R. 1998. Der Lampropeltis mexicana-Komplex (Serpentes: Colubridae): Naturgeschichte und Terrarienhaltung. Salamandra 34 (2): 97-124 - get paper here
  • Lazcano D, Nevárez-de los Reyes M, García-Padilla E, Johnson JD, Mata-Silva V, DeSantis DL, Wilson LD. 2019. The herpetofauna of Coahuila, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation status. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13(2) [General Section]: 31–94 (e189) - get paper here
  • Loveridge,A. 1924. A new snake of the genus Lampropeltis. Occ. Pap. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist. 5: 137-139 - get paper here
  • Smith, Hobart M. 1944. Snakes of the Hoogstraal Expeditions to northern Mexico. Zoological Series of Field Museum of Natural History 29 (8): 135-152 - get paper here
  • WELSH, R. G., D. LAZCANO, AND R. W. BRYSON JR 2020. Geographic Distribution: Lampropeltis leonis (Nuevo León Kingsnake). Mexico: San Luis Potosí: Municipality Of Catorce. Herpetological Review 51: 80.
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