Eastern Apalachicola Lowlands Kingsnake
Scientific name: Lampropeltis getula meansi (KRYSKO & JUDD 2006)
* Currently accepted name
* scientific names used through time
- Coluber getulus – LINNAEUS 1766
- Ophibolus getulus – BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
- Coronella getulus – DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854
- Lampropeltis getulus – COPE 1860
- Triaeniopholis arenarius – WERNER 1924
- Lampropeltis getula – FROST & COLLINS 1988
- Lampropeltis getula goini – NEILL & ALLEN 1949 in KRYSKO & JUDD 2006
- Lampropeltis getula meansi – KRYSKO & JUDD 2006
Description Size is 9.8-56.1 inches (25-142.5 cm SVL), record is 56.1 inches (142.5 cm SVL). Adults are variable in coloration distinguished from all other Kingnskes by its overall light dorsal coloration, having either narrow or wide crossbands with considerably lightened interbands, or being non-banded (striped or patternless). Combinations of these basic patterns also occur regularly in the wild. The ventral pattern is also variable, being either bicolored, loose checkerboard with interspersed bicolored scales, or mostly dark. Banded individuals have fewer than 26 yellowish and usually wide (up to the entire body length) dorsal crossbands. The scales between the light crossbands lighten with age, starting as black, they develop lightening on the anterior 1/2 to 3/4 of each scale, which varies from 25-100% of the intensity of the light crossbands in the adult stage. Adults that possess interbands the same intensity of the light crossbands appear to be non-banded (striped or patternless), but they can be distinguished from truly non-banded morphs due to the difference in morphology between the light colored crossband and interband scale types. Within a light crossband scale, light pigment is separated from dark pigment by a sharp, straight line; within a lightened interband scale, the edge of the light pigment is rounded, not straight. The scales are smooth, and there are 21 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round.
A. Top of the head (notice the large plate-like scales on the top of the head)
B. Smooth scales
C. Elongated scales below the tail (subcaudal scales) are typically divided
D. Front (face view) of the head
E. Side of the head
Range: Endemic to Florida, it is found in the Eastern Apalachicola Lowlands in the panhandle between the Apalachicola and Ochlockonee rivers and south of Telogia Creek, Franklin and Liberty counties. Individuals are also occasionally found in the southwestern Apalachicola Lowlands on the western side of the Apalachicola River. Morphological intermediates or hybrids (i.e., currently unrecognized L. g. goini) between the Eastern Apalachicola Lowlands Kingsnake and the Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula) are found mostly in the surrounding region from southern Gulf and Franklin counties to the west, north to Calhoun County, and east into northern Liberty (north of Telogia Creek), Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, and Jefferson counties. It is not found outside of Florida.
Habitat: Rare, it is found in pinelands, hardwood hammocks, cypress strands, prairies, marshes, and estuaries.
Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous), and seldom bites. The Eastern Apalachicola Lowlands Kingsnake is mainly terrestrial and active during the day, yet in the summer months individuals may be found moving at night.
It feeds on other snakes, lizards, frogs, rodents, turtle eggs, and birds and their eggs. It eats venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes, and is immune to their venom. It is even known to be cannibalistic, eating its own kind.
It lays eggs. It is primarily active from March-May, when breeding takes place. In the early summer, 3-30 eggs are laid. Newborns around 9.8 inches (25 cm SVL) hatch in late summer.
Comparison with other species: The Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula) has 19-32 light and narrow light crossbands on the body, no lightening of the black interband scales, a lateral chain-like pattern, and usually 21 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The Florida Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula floridana) has > 34 light and narrow crossbands on the body, a degenerate lateral chain-like pattern, and usually 23 dorsal scale rows at midbody.