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Pantherophis emoryi (BAIRD & GIRARD, 1853)

IUCN Red List - Pantherophis emoryi - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesPantherophis emoryi emoryi (BAIRD & GIRARD 1853)
Pantherophis emoryi meahllmorum (SMITH et al. 1994)
Pantherophis emoryi slowinskii (BURBRINK 2002) 
Common NamesE: Great Plains Rat Snake
G: Präriekornnatter
E: Southern Plains Rat Snake [meahllmorum]
S: Ratonera de Emory
E: Slowinski ’s Cornsnake [slowinskii]
G: Slowinski-Kornnatter [slowinskii] 
SynonymScotophis emoryi BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 157
Scotophis calligaster KENNICOTT 1859: 88
Coluber rhinomegas COPE 1860: 255
Coluber emoryi — COPE 1886: 284
Coluber laetus BOULENGER 1894: 49
Elaphe laeta — TAYLOR 1935: 213
Elaphe laeta — TAYLOR 1939
Elaphe laeta intermontanus WOODBURY and WOODBURY 1942: 139
Elaphe quivira BURT 1946: 116 (nomen nudum)
Elaphe laeta intermontanus — JAMESON & FLURY 1949
Elaphe guttata emoryi — STEBBINS 1985: 186
Elaphe guttata emoryi — TANNER 1985: 630
Elaphe guttata emoryi — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 196
Elaphe emoryi — VAUGHAN et al. 1996
Elaphe guttata emoryi — CROTHER 2000: 61
Elaphe guttata emoryi — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 394
Elaphe guttata emoryi — TENNANT 2003: 403
Elaphe emoryi — BURBRINK 2002
Pantherophis emoryi — POTTS & COLLINS 2005
Pantherophis emoryi emoryi — SKUBOWSKI 2012
Pantherophis emoryi — CROTHER et al. 2012
Pantherophis emoryi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 528
Pantherophis emoryi emoryi — MARSHALL et al. 2021

Pantherophis emoryi meahllmorum (SMITH et al. 1994)
Elaphe guttata meahllmorum SMITH et al. 1994: 259
Elaphe guttata meahllmorum — CROTHER 2000: 61
Pantherophis emoryi meahllmorum — COLLINS et al. 2008
Pantherophis emoryi meahllmorum — SKUBOWSKI 2012
Pantherophis emoryi meahllmorum — MARSHALL et al. 2021

Pantherophis emoryi slowinskii (BURBRINK 2002)
Elaphe slowinskii BURBRINK 2002
Pantherophis slowinskii — JIANG et al. 2007
Pantherophis slowinskii — CROTHER et al. 2012
Pantherophis slowinskii — WALLACH et al. 2014: 530
Pantherophis emoryi slowinskii — MARSHALL et al. 2021 
DistributionUSA (SW Illinois, Kansas to SE Colorado and E New Mexico and south through Texas; disjunct areas in NE Utah)
N Mexico (to San Luis Potosí and N Veracruz, Chihuahua, N Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Quéretaro, Jalisco, Hidalgo, Aguascalientes)

meahllmorum: S Texas, Mexico (San Luis Potosí and N Veracruz, Chihuahua, N Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Quéretaro); Type locality: El Salto, San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

slowinskii: USA (Louisiana, E Texas); Type locality: Longleaf Pine Highway, 0.5 miles west of Hwy 119, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, USA  
TypesHolotype: lost, was USNM, (lost fide Dowling,1951, Wallach et al. 2014).
Holotype: LSUM 55922 [slowinskii]
Holotype: UCM 46009, paratypes: MPM, ASUMZ, UIMNH, KU, UCM, UTA, EAL, UO, UTEP [meahllmorum] 
DiagnosisDescription: Compared to other members of the E. guttata complex, E.emoryi is more robust and has a larger head that is distinctly offset from the neck (Schultz,1996). Adults of this species reach a total length of 80 –150 cm and have 197 –236 ventral scales and 58 –83 subcaudal scales,with 27 –73 dorsal blotches (Schultz,1996).The dorsal ground color is gray,olive, or brown with brown or olive dorsal and lateral blotches with black borders.The pattern on the head is very similar to the other two species,whereas the belly may be only sparsely patterned (particularly in the southern part of the distribution)with small triangular or semi-circular blotches (Schultz,1996).

Description (slowinskii): Elaphe slowinskii is very similar to E. guttata in body shape and head markings, but is distinguished from the nearby southern E. guttata by lacking the brighter yellow and red dorsal color patterns (Vaughan et al., 1996). They generally have a grayish, brown, or tan ground color with dark red, maroon, or brownish blotches. In some specimens, the dark brown ground color may obscure the dorsal color pattern. The belly pattern may be checkered, but often displays smaller and more evenly paired rows of ventral blotches with some degree of peppering across the cream ventral ground color. The black margin surrounding the dorsal blotches at midbody tends to occupy only 25–50% of each scale in E. slowinskii, but usually occupies an entire scale in E. guttata. Some specimens of E. slowinskii appear similar to E. emoryi. However, most E. emoryi tend to be gray with dark gray or olive colored blotches and often have more sparsely patterned bellies than E. slowinskii (Vaughan et al., 1996). The number of combined dorsal body and tail blotches in E. slowinskii (mean=48, range=42–56, n = 17) are greater than that of E. guttata (mean=38, range=34–47, n = 18) and less than that of E. emoryi (mean=58, range=48–65, n = 19). The width of dorsal blotches at midbody,measured in number of scales, in E. slowinskii (mean=13, range=10.5–15, and n = 17) is less than E. guttata (mean=16.0, range=13–19, and n = 18) and greater than E. emoryi (mean=12, range=9–15, and n = 19). The length of dorsal blotches at midbody, measured in number of scales, in E. slowinskii (mean=4, range=3–5, and n = 17) is less than E. guttata (mean=6, range=5–7, and n = 18) and greater than E. emoryi (mean=4, range=2.5–5.5, and n = 19). (Smith et al. 1994)

Diagnosis (meahllmorum). A member of the E. guttata complex, having "parallel neck stripes crossing the parietals and normally uniting on the frontal" (Thomas, 1974:57); no ontogenetic change in pattern; a postorbital stripe extending onto or beyond infralabials; ventrals and subcaudals not exceeding 232 and 86 in males, 240 and 83 in females, respectively (Thomas, 1974:98); venter usually distinctly checkerboard like in pattern, light areas between dark rectangles usually white, sharply contrasting with pigmented areas; usually two, largely continuous black stripes on subcaudal surface. Distinct from E. g. guttata in having dark gray, olive, or gray-brown dorsal blotches on a light gray background (vs reddish or orange blotches and ground color), and from E. g. emoryi in having 44.5 or fewer dorsal blotches on body (100%, vs 2%). (Smith et al. 1994)

Description of holotype (meahllmorum). A young adult female, s-v 517 mm, tail 113 mm, tail/total length ratio 0.1794. Specimen well preserved and in good condition except for a deep cut on right side of neck from midline between posterior genials to level of ventral 14, and a more superficial cut on left side between levels of ventrals 20 and 34. Preoculars 1-1; postoculars 2-2; temporals 2-2-3 on both sides; supralabials 8-8; infralabials 12-12; scale rows 25-29-19; ventral 223; subcaudals 71 (plus 2-4 missing at tip); anal divided; median dorsals weakly keeled, beginning with the vertebral scale row posterior to the anterior third of body (where all dorsals are smooth) and increasing within a span of 20 ventrals to the median eight rows; no keels on tail, others smooth or very faintly keeled; two apical pits on all dorsal scales of both body and tail, except erratic (present, absent or only one of the pair, usually the more medial one, present) on the first dorsal scale row. (Smith et al. 1994)

Coloration (meahllmorum): Dark markings gray-brown, black-edged; a dark bar across inter nasals, extending onto supralabials and rostral; an interorbital dark bar continuous with a postocular dark bar ending on infralabials at rictus oris; a pair of longitudinal, short cranionuchal dark stripes beginning posteriorly at level of ventral five, uniting on frontal; right cranionuchal dark stripe narrowly connected with first blotch on trunk; a small, elongate, medial dark spot on posterior extremity of interparietal suture, extending posteriorly onto anterior three rows of nuchals; 35 dorsal dark blotches on body, 13 on tail; body blotches mostly about as broad as long, extending to 7th-9th-5th scale rows (anterior, middle, rear trunk regions), separated medially by spaces about 1.5 scale rows long; most of the anterior blotches with a transverse light area surrounding black-centered scales; 25th blotch more elongate than others and almost completely split by that transverse light area with black-centered scales (much like the 9th blotch shown in Fig. 2); lateral spots distinct, relatively large (0.25 size of dorsal blotches), mostly alternating with dorsal blotches, not reaching ventrals, but alternating or coinciding with small, more numerous sublateral spots (covering the equivalent of 2-5 dorsal scales) that encroach onto the ends of the ventrals. First ventral with a median or paramedian dark spot, no. 17; 17 ventrals among the anterior 50 with one or more such spots; little scattered pigment on venter between spots; checkered ventral pattern moderately dense, approximately 2/3 of ventrals involved; paired subcaudal stripes continuous only on posterior 3/5 of tail. (Smith et al. 1994)

Variation and comparison (meahllmorum): Smith et al. 1994: 265. 
CommentHybridization: Vaughan et al. (1996 Texas Journal of Science 48(1): 175-190) in their detailed study clearly demonstrated that the defined, diagnosed, allopatric population emoryi is a distinct species (see the map on page 185). [from:]. However, it intergrades with Elaphe guttata guttata in S-Arkansas, NW-Louisiana and adjacent E-Texas (STEBBINS 1985).

Subspecies: Pantherophis emoryi meahllmorum (SMITH et al. 1994) was synonymized with emoryi (BURBRINK 2002), but revalidated by Marshall et al. 2021.

Distribution: See Marshall et al. 2021 also for a map of the 3 subspecies and the areas of intergradation.

Synonymy partly after BURBRINK 2002.

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a patronym honoring the collector, William Hemsley Emory.

P. e. meahllmorum (pronounced as though spelled "mealmorum") is derived from the names of 11 associates of HMS to whom he is indebted particularly for absolutely vital aid in preparation for publication of volume seven of the series jointly authored by himself and his wife and co-worker, Rozella B. Smith, entitled A Synopsis of the Herpetofauna of Mexico. The new name is a collective, proposed in honor of the following individuals, now or formerly at the University of Colorado, listed with their designated letters in the order of occurrence IN the name: m, Dr. Michael J. Preston, Department of English; e, Mary E. Marcotte, EPOB (Department of Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology) secretary; a, Ann E. Carrington, do.; h, Laura J. Heigl, do.; l, Linda K. Bowden, do.; l, Dr. William M Lewis, Chairman, EPOB; m, Dr. Michael D. Breed, EPOB, former Chairman; o, Phyllis A. O'Connell, EPOB secretary; r, Dean Charles R. Middleton, College of Arts and Sciences; u, Dr. Shi-Kuei Wu, Curator of Zoology, University of Colorado Museum; and m, Dr. Michael C. Grant, EPOB, former Chairman.

P. e. slowinskii was named after Joseph Bruno Slowinski (1963-2001), American herpetologist, who died from snakebite at age 38. For an obituary see Donnelly & Crother 2003. For more biographical details see James (2008). 
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