|Diagnosis||Diagnosis: The Black Kingsnake (L. nigra) is a large- to medium-bodied constrictor with an average adult size of 90–122cm, with larger individuals attaining maximum lengths of 147–183cm (Conant & Collins 1998). Scales are smooth, anal plate single, and individuals typically exhibit 19–25 scale rows at midbody. Ventral scale counts range from 197–222 in both sexes (fewer in the north), while subcaudals range from 45– 59 in males and 37–51 in females (Blaney 1977). The Black Kingsnake can be distinguished from other species in the genus based on a combination of geography and color pattern. The Black Kingsnake ranges from southern Illinois to the Gulf coast along the Mississippi River, and east to the Appalachian mountain and the Alabama River drainage in south Alabama (Fig. 2). Black Kingsnakes all exhibit a black ground color, typically with a black-and-white checkered venter, and rarely faint traces of dorsal crossbands (Blanchard 1921; Blaney 1977; Conant & Collins 1998). Each dorsal scale is punctuated by a yellow or white speckle near the center of the scale; this is strongest in the southern portion of their range and fades considerably in the north, where many adults may be almost completely black (Conant & Collins 1998; Fig. 3). The Black Kingsnake can be distinguished from the morphologically similar Central lineage on the basis of geography, as the Black Kingsnake is only found east of the Mississippi River (Fig. 2) [from PYRON & BURBRINK 2009]. |
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