Jefferson Co., Kentucky. May 8, 2006
It took a visit to Kentucky to find ‘pure’ Black Kings. Back in my home state of Illinois, I find intergrades between Speckled Kings and Black Kings in the southern counties, which I often refer to ‘Shawnee Kings’. This specimen showed only a small amount of white speckles on the dorsum. They are a beautiful and underappreciated kingsnake in my mind.
Formerly a subspecies of Lampropeltis getula, Black Kings were elevated to species status by Pyron and Burbrink in 2009, and the arguments haven’t stopped since. Personally I view Lampropeltis getula as a species continuum that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and Black Kings are an interesting variant found east of the Mississippi.