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Lampropeltis splendida (BAIRD & GIRARD, 1853)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Desert Kingsnake
S: Barila de Desierto 
SynonymOphibolus splendidus BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 83
Coronella getulus var. splendida — JAN 1865
Lampropeltis splendida — COPE
Lampropeltis getulus splendida — TAYLOR 1952
Lampropeltis getulus splendida — WEBB 1984
Lampropeltis getulus splendida — TANNER 1985: 634
Lampropeltis getula splendida — DIXON 2000
Lampropeltis getula splendida — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 423
Lampropeltis splendida — PYRON & BURBRINK 2009
Lampropeltis getula splendida — LAITA 2013
Lampropeltis splendida — WALLACH et al. 2014: 359 
DistributionUSA (C Texas to SE Arizona; isolated records from N New Mexico and S Colorado), NC Mexico (incl. San Luis Potosi, Durango, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Coahuila); .

Type Locality: Sonora, Mexico (no further locality given).  
TypesHolotype: USNM 1726, collected by Col. J.D. Graham. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: The Desert Kingsnake (L. splendida) is a medium- to large-bodied constrictor with an average adult size range of 90–114cm and a maximum size of 152cm (Conant & Collins 1998). Scales are smooth, anal plate single, with midbody scale rows typically numbering 23–25 (Blaney 1977). Ventral scales number 199–227 in males and 203–237 in females, while subcaudals range from 45–62 in males and 40–52 in females (Blaney 1977). The Desert Kingsnake can be distinguished from related species primarily on the basis of color pattern. The pattern of the Desert Kingsnake is characterized by a black or dark brown ground color with heavy yellow lateral and dorsolateral stippling. The remnant crossbands formed by this stippling yield a row of black or brown dorsal blotches or saddles, numbering 42–97. The head is typically black or dark brown, and the onset of the yellow dorsal patterning sometimes gives the appearance of a collar (Fig. 3; Blanchard 1921; Blaney 1977; Conant & Collins 1998). The Desert Kingsnake inhabits the Chihuahuan desert east of the Cochise Filter Barrier, from western Texas to extreme southeastern Arizona, north from central New Mexico in the Rio Grande River valley south to the south central portion of the Mexican Plateau (Fig. 2). Additionally, the ecological niche modeling results from Pyron & Burbrink (2009c) predict an area of habitat in northcentral Arizona as suitable for L. splendida which is not predicted as suitable for the geographically adjacent California lineage (Fig. 2; Pyron & Burbrink 2009c). While kingsnakes are known from this region of Arizona (Stebbins 2003), it is not known to which species this population belongs. The Desert Kingsnakes may hybridize with the Western lineage in a narrow area in extreme southeastern Arizona and extreme southwestern New Mexico, where haplotypes co-occur and some apparent hybrids have been found (Fig. 2; R.A. Pyron, pers. obs.), though morphological intermediacy is apparently not widespread (Conant & Collins 1998) [from PYRON & BURBRINK 2009]. 
CommentKaryotype: Cole et al. 2019 reported the karyotype of a hybrid of Lampropeltis splendida × Lampropeltis californiae. 
EtymologySpecific epithet refers to the ‘splendid’ visage of the dorsal coloration. 
  • Baird, S. F. and C. Girard. 1853. Catalogue of North American Reptiles in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Part 1.-Serpents. Smithsonian Inst., Washington, xvi + 172 pp. - get paper here
  • 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
  • Blaney, Richard M. 1977. Systematics of the common kingsnake, Lampropeltis getulus (Linnaeus). Tulane Studies in Zoology and Botany 19 (3-4): 47-103 - get paper here
  • Carbajal-Márquez, Rubén A., Zaira Y. González-Saucedo, Gustavo Quintero-Diaz and Martín Lara. 2013. Lampropeltis splendida (desert kingsnake) diet. Herpetological Review 44 (4): 692 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Seventh Edition. Herpetological Circular 39: 1-92
  • Davis DR, LaDuc TJ 2018. Amphibians and reptiles of C. E. Miller Ranch and the Sierra Vieja, Chihuahuan Desert, Texas, USA. ZooKeys 735: 97-130 - get paper here
  • Dixon, James R. 2000. Amphibians and reptiles of Texas, second edition. Texas A&M University Press, 421 pp.
  • Haines-Eitzen, Eli and Lee, Justin L. 2017. Lampropeltis splendida (Desert Kingsnake) Coloration. Herpetological Review 48 (1): 213 - get paper here
  • Heimes, P. 2016. Snakes of Mexico. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 572 pp
  • Jameson, David H.;Flury, Alvin G. 1949. The reptiles and amphibians of the Sierra Vieja Range of southwestern Texas. Texas Journal of Science 1 (2): 54-77 - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1865. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 12. Livraison. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1865. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 14. Livraison. [Elapomorphus d’Orbignyi, Coronella getulus var. Sayi]. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Kasper, Stephen. 2014. Geographical Distribution: Lampropeltis splendida (desert kingsnake). Herpetological Review 45 (4): 664 - get paper here
  • Laita, Mark 2013. Serpentine. Abrams and PQ Blackwell, Auckland, New Zealand, 200 unnumbered pages
  • 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
  • Lemos-Espinal JA, Smith GR, Gadsden-Esparza H, Valdez-Lares R, Woolrich-Piña GA 2018. Amphibians and reptiles of the state of Durango, Mexico, with comparisons with adjoining states. ZooKeys 748: 65-87 - get paper here
  • Lemos-Espinal JA, Smith GR, Rorabaugh JC 2019. A conservation checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Sonora, Mexico, with updated species lists. ZooKeys 829: 131-160 - get paper here
  • Lemos-Espinal JA, Smith GR, Woolrich-Piña GA 2018. Amphibians and reptiles of the state of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, with comparisons with adjoining states. ZooKeys 753: 83-106 - get paper here
  • Lemos-Espinal, Julio A. and James R. Dixon 2013. Amphibians and Reptiles of San Luis Potosí. Eagle Mountain Publishing, xii + 300 pp.
  • Nevárez-de-los-Reyes, Manuel, David Lazcano, Elí García-Padilla, Vicente Mata-Silva, Jerry D. Johnson and Larry David Wilson. 2016. The Herpetofauna of Nuevo León, Mexico: Composition, Distribution, and Conservation. Mesoamerican Herpetology 3 (3): 558–638 - get paper here
  • Pyron, R. Alexander; Frank T. Burbrink 2009. Systematics of the Common Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula; Serpentes: Colubridae) and the burden of heritage in taxonomy. Zootaxa 2241: 22-32 - get paper here
  • Root, Shaun T. and Darrell Ahlers. 2013. Lampropeltis splendida (desert kingsnake) diet. Herpetological Review 44 (3): 523-524 - get paper here
  • Tanner, Wilmer W. 1985. Snakes of Western Chihuahua. Great Basin Naturalist 45 (4): 615-676 - get paper here
  • Taylor, Edward H. 1952. Third contribution of the herpetology of the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 34 (13): 793-815 - get paper here
  • Tennant, A. & Bartlett, R.D. 2000. Snakes of North America - Eastern and Central Regions. Gulf Publishing, Houston, TX, 588 pp.
  • Terán-Juárez, Sergio A., Elí García Padilla, Vicente Mata-Silva, Jerry D. Johnson and Larry David Wilson. 2016. The herpetofauna of Tamaulipas, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation status. Mesoamerican Herpetology 3 (1): 43–113 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Webb, R.G. 1984. Herpetogeography in the Mazatlán-Durango Region of the Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico. Vetrebrate Ecology and Systematics - A ribute to Henry S. Fitch; Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, Lawrence, pp. 217-241
  • Werler, John E. & James R. Dixon 2000. Texas Snakes. University of Texas Press, 544 pages
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