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Pantherophis obsoletus (SAY, 1823)

IUCN Red List - Pantherophis obsoletus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Western Rat Snake, Black Rat snake, Pilot Black Snake (obsoleta)
E: Texas Rat Snake (lindheimeri)
E: Yellow Rat Snake (quadrivittata)
E: Everglades Ratsnake (rossalleni)
G: Erdnatter 
SynonymColuber obsoletus SAY 1823: 140
Coluber reticularis DAUDIN 1803 (part., see comment)
Coluber obsoletus HOLBROOK 1842 (fide GARMAN 1884)
Georgia obsoleta — BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 158
Scotophis Lindheimerii BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 74
Spilotes obsoletus — GARMAN 1884: 48
Elaphis obsoletus — GARMAN 1884: 54
Elaphis obsoletus var. Lindheimerii — GARMAN 1884: 54
Scotophis lindheimerii — GARMAN 1887: 126
Coluber obsoletus — BOULENGER 1894: 50
Elaphe obsoleta — BURT 1935
Elaphe obsoleta quadravittata — MEHRTENS 1987 (in error)
Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 197
Elaphe obsoleta lindheimerii CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 199
Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata — PALMER & BRASWELL 1995
Elaphe obsoleta — SCHULZ 1996
Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta — CROTHER 2000: 62
Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri — CROTHER 2000: 62
Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 379
Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 383
Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 388
Pantherophis obsoletus — UTIGER et al. 2002
Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri — SCHMIDT 2004
Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri — HALLMEN 2005
Pantherophis obsoletus — BÖHME 2005
Pantherophis obsoletus — POTTS & COLLINS 2005
Pituophis obsoletus — BURBRINK 2007
Scotophis obsoletus — COLLINS & TAGGART 2008
Pantherophis obsoletus — PYRON & BURBRINK 2009
Pantherophis obsoletus quadrivittatus — MENSE 2010
Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri — LAITA 2013
Pantherophis obsoletus quadrivittata — LAITA 2013
Pantherophis obsoletus quadrivittatus — SACHSSE 2014
Pantherophis obsoletus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 529 
DistributionC/E USA (SE Nebraska, E Kansas, Oklahoma, E Texas, SE Minnesota, S/E Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, S Michigan, W Vermont, Pennsylvania),
S Canada

Type locality: “on the Missouri River from the vicinity of Isle au Vache [Cow Island] to Council Bluff” (Say, 1823); restricted to the vicinity of Cow Island, Leavenworth County, Kansas, 39.425296°, -94.962343° (Dowling 1952, Taggart 2021).

obsoleta (fide BURBRINK 2001): west of the Mississippi River from S Louisiana along the Gulf Coast to S Texas, west to C Texas on the Edward’s Plateau, and through Oklahoma, C and E Kansas, SE Nebraska, SE Iowa, and extreme SE Minnesota. Compare to P. alleghaniensis

lindheimeri: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana. Type locality: “New Braunfels, Comal County, Texas”  
TypesSyntypes: ANSP (PM), one specimen 1515 mm, 3 specimens total, present location unknown fide Dowling, 1952b: 4.
Holotype: (lost), paratype: USNM 1734 (skin only); note that USNM 1733 is not a type although some authors said so (see Pyron & Burbrink 2021 for a discussion) [Scotophis lindheimeri] 
CommentHybrids: BRÖER (1977) reports a hybrid between E. guttata guttata and E. obsoleta quadrivittata. Bechtel & Mountain (1960) report hybrids between Elaphe guttata and E. obsoleta rossaleni. Gibbs et al. (2006) showed with denser sampling that eastern and central lineages exhibit substantial genetic exchange along a northern contact zone within Pantherophis obsoletus s.l.

Distribution: not in Wisconsin (CNAH online, 2010).

Colour images: various subspecies in STANKOWSKI (1986) and SCHWEIGER (1995).

Subspecies: Elaphe obsoleta deckerti and E. o. parallela are not recognized as subspecies any more (CROTHER 2000). BURBRINK (2001) doesn’t recognize any subspecies of E. obsoleta but elevates some of its clades to species status. Illustration of E. o. lindheimeri in SCHMIDT (2004).

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018).

Synonymy: Coluber reticularis DAUDIN 1803 is a binomical based on La Cépède (1789) name ‘La réticulaire’, but unavailable because the latter was suppressed by ICZN opinion 1463. See Pyron & Burbrink 2021 for details. 
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