Black Kingsnake

Lampropeltis nigra
(Yarrow, 1882)
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.

My Flickr album for this species can be viewed here.

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