Lampropeltis elapsoides - (Holbrook, 1838)
Scarlet Kingsnake
Other English Common Names: scarlet kingsnake
Synonym(s): Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides (Holbrook, 1838)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides (Holbrook, 1838) (TSN 209232)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.105132
Element Code: ARADB19054
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Reptiles - Snakes
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Reptilia Squamata Colubridae Lampropeltis
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Collins, J. T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. 3rd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Herpetological Circular No. 19. 41 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B90COL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides
Taxonomic Comments: This taxon has long been regarded as a subspecies of L. triangulum. Armstrong et al. (2001) examined populations of L. trianugulum subspecies syspila and elapsoides in western Kentucky and adjacent Tennessee and concluded that the two taxa exist in sympatry with minimal, if any, gene flow between the populations. Based on multiple nuclear and mitochondrial genes, Pyron and Burbrink (2009) reported that elapsoides is well differentiated from L. triangulum. Consequently, Crother et al. (in Crother 2012) listed L. elapsoides as a distinct species. Conant and Collins (1991) mapped extensive areas of apparent intergradation between elapsoides and other triangulum subspecies, but Pyron and Burbrink (2009) did not delineate the range of L. elapsoides nor specify contact zones or discuss possible hybridization between elapsoides and populations of L. triangulum.

Analyses by Ruane et al. (2014) support the existence of seven distinct species previously considered to be L. triangulum, which they propose should be formally recognized. These seven taxa were all originally described as full species based on morphology (e.g., size, body form, color/pattern) before being synonymized with L. triangulum and are as follows: L. triangulum (Lacépède 1788), L. gentilis (Baird and Girard 1853), L. elapsoides (Holbrook 1838), L. annulata Kennicott 1861, L. polyzona Cope 1861, L. abnorma (Bocourt 1886), and L. micropholis Cope 1861.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 26Feb1997
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large range in southeastern United States; many occurrences; presumed large population size; probably relatively stable or at least not declining at a rapid rate.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (06Apr2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S5), District of Columbia (SNR), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S4), Kentucky (S3), Louisiana (SNR), Mississippi (S4), North Carolina (S3), South Carolina (S5), Tennessee (SNR), Virginia (S2S4)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Range extends from southeastern Virginia and the Coastal Plain of North and South Carolina southward through Georgia to southern Florida, and westward to eastern Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky (Conant and Collins 1991, Pyron and Burbrink 2009). Distributional details along the northern and western edges of the range have not been precisely delineated. Suspected ?intergrades? with L. triangulum from eastern Virginia to southern New Jersey are likely L. triangulum and not hybrids (Ruane et al. 2014).

Area of Occupancy:  
Area of Occupancy Comments: Area of occupancy is unknown but very large.

Number of Occurrences:  
Number of Occurrences Comments: The number of distinct occurrences has not been determined using consistent criteria, but this species is represented by a large number of collection sites and locations (as defined by IUCN).

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 10,000 and probably exceeds 100,000. Though secretive and not frequently observed, this snake is common in many areas of its range (e.g., Jensen et al. 2008)

Overall Threat Impact: Low

Short-term Trend Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain, but distribution and abundance probably have been relatively stable or slowly declining.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Range extends from southeastern Virginia and the Coastal Plain of North and South Carolina southward through Georgia to southern Florida, and westward to eastern Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky (Conant and Collins 1991, Pyron and Burbrink 2009). Distributional details along the northern and western edges of the range have not been precisely delineated. Suspected ?intergrades? with L. triangulum from eastern Virginia to southern New Jersey are likely L. triangulum and not hybrids (Ruane et al. 2014).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
KY Barren (21009)*, Calloway (21035)*, Edmonson (21061)*, Floyd (21071)*, Hart (21099)*, Lyon (21143), McCreary (21147)*, Rowan (21205)*, Trigg (21221), Whitley (21235)*
MS Claiborne (28021), Forrest (28035), George (28039)*, Hancock (28045)*, Harrison (28047)*, Humphreys (28053), Jackson (28059)*, Lamar (28073)*, Lincoln (28085)*, Noxubee (28103)*, Oktibbeha (28105)*, Pearl River (28109)*, Perry (28111), Sharkey (28125), Stone (28131)*, Wayne (28153)*, Yazoo (28163)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Noxubee (03160108)+*, Upper Leaf (03170004)+*, Lower Leaf (03170005)+, Pascagoula (03170006)+*, Black (03170007)+, Mississippi Coastal (03170009)+*, Lower Pearl. Mississippi (03180004)+*
05 Lower Levisa (05070203)+*, Licking (05100101)+*, Upper Green (05110001)+*, Barren (05110002)+*, Upper Cumberland (05130101)+*, Lower Cumberland (05130205)+
06 Kentucky Lake (06040005)+
08 Upper Yazoo (08030206)+, Big Sunflower (08030207)+, Lower Big Black (08060202)+, Bayou Pierre (08060203)+, Amite (08070202)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A colubrid snake (kingsnake).
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris, Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Habitats include pine flatwoods and wet prairie hammocks; less frequently bottomland, mixed hardwood, and upland pine forest, sandhills, and maritime hammock; rare in extensive grassy wetlands (except "limestone-lined banks of sugar cane irrigation fields") (Tennant 1997). Stumps and logs are commonly used as cover.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Medium And Large Colubrid Snakes

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Busy highway or highway with obstructions such that snakes rarely if ever cross successfully; major river, lake, pond, or deep marsh (this barrier pertains only to upland species and does not apply to aquatic or wetland snakes); densely urbanized area dominated by buildings and pavement.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Available information on movements of colubrid snakes is limited to a small minority of species. These data indicate that nearly all species have home ranges smaller or much smaller than 25 ha (e.g., less than 3 ha, Pituophis catenifer in California, Rodriguez-Robles 2003), with some up to about 75 ha (Heterodon platirhinos, average 50 ha, Plummer and Mills 2000), and the largest up to 225 ha in the biggest colubrids (Drymarchon, summer mean 50-100 ha, USFWS 1998).

Radiotelemetry data for Pantherophis indicate that residents of hibernacula that are 1-2 km apart (with suitable intervening habitat) probably interbreed (Prior et al. 1997, Blouin-Demers and Weatherhead 2002). However, "evidence of genetic structure even over short distances (e.g., 2-20 km) implies that gene flow among rat snake populations can be easily disrupted" (Prior et al. 1997). Loughheed et al. (1999) found evidence of substantial genetic exchange among local hibernacula (< 6 km apart), but gene flow over distances of 10s of km appears to be substantially less. Based on extensive radio-tracking data, Blouin-Demers and Weatherhead (2002) found that home range size of Pantherophis averaged 18.5 ha and ranged up to 93 ha; based on the most mobile individuals, Pantherophis from hibernacula up to 8 km apart can come together for mating. Pantherophis and probably other colubrids exhibit high fidelity to hibernacula and shift even to nearby sites only rarely (Prior et al. 2001).

Many of the several studies that report small home ranges for colubrids did not employ methods (e.g., radio telemetry) suitable for detecting full annual or multi-annual home range size, dispersal, or other long-distance movements, so these may have yielded underestimates of home ranges or activity areas.

At least some colubrids, including medium-sized species such as garter snakes, not uncommonly move between areas up to a few kilometers apart, and several species make extensive movements of up to several kilometers, so separation distances of 1-2 km for suitable habitat are too small for medium-sized and large colubrids.

A separation distance of 10 km for suitable habitat was selected as most appropriate for snakes assigned to this Specs Group because it seems generally unlikely that two locations separated by less than 10 km of suitable habitat would represent distinct occurrences.

For the purposes of these occurrence specifications, upland habitat is regarded as unsuitable habitat for aquatic and wetland snakes. For upland snakes, shallow or patchy wetlands are treated as unsuitable habitat whereas large deepwater habitats (subjective determination) are barriers.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Date: 12Feb2013
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: Separation distance for suitable habitat was changed from 5 km to 10 km based on comments from Dale Jackson (12 Feb 2013).
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 11Jul2013
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 26Feb1997

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Armstrong, M. P., D. Frymire, and E. J. Zimmerer. 2001. Analysis of sympatric populations of LAMPROPELTIS TRIANGULUM SYSPILA and LAMPROPELTIS TRIANGULUM ELAPSOIDES, in western Kentucky and adjacent Tennessee with relation to the taxonomic status of the scarlet kingsnake. Journal of Herpetology 35:688-693.

  • Cliburn, J.W. 1976. A key to the amphibians and reptiles of Mississippi. Fourth edition. Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, Jackson, Mississippi. 71 pp.

  • Collins, J. T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. 3rd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Herpetological Circular No. 19. 41 pp.

  • Crother, B. I. (editor). 2008. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Sixth edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Herpetological Circular 37:1-84.

  • Crother, B. I. (editor). 2008. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Sixth edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Herpetological Circular 37:1-84. Online with updates at: http://www.ssarherps.org/pages/comm_names/Index.php

  • Crother, B. I. (editor). 2012. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. 7th edition. SSAR Herpetological Circular 39:1-92.

  • Dundee, H.E., and D.A. Rossman. 1989. The amphibians and reptiles of Louisiana. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge. 300 pp.

  • Jensen, J. B., C. D. Camp, W. Gibbons, and M. J. Elliot, editors. 2008. Amphibians and reptiles of Georgia. University of Georgia Press, Athens. xvii + 575 pp.

  • Lohoefener, R. and R. Altig. 1983. Mississippi herpetology. Mississippi State University Research Center, NSTL Station, Mississippi. 66 pp.

  • Mirarchi, R.E., editor. 2004. Alabama Wildlife. Volume 1. A checklist of vertebrates and selected invertebrates: aquatic mollusks, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 209 pages.

  • Mount, R. H. 1975. The reptiles and amphibians of Alabama. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn, Alabama. vii + 347 pages.

  • Mount, R.H. 1975. The reptiles and amphibians of Alabama. Auburn University, Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn. 347 pp.

  • Pyron, R. A., and F. T. Burbrink. 2009. Neogene diversification and taxonomic stability in the snake tribe Lampropeltini (Serpentes: Colubridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 52:524-529.

  • Ruane, S., Bryson, R.W. Jr., Pyron, R.A., and F.T. Burbrink. 2014. Coalescent Species delimitation in Milksnakes (genus Lampropeltis) and impacts on phylogenetic comparative analyses. Systematic Biology 63(2):231-250.

  • Tennant, A. 1997. A field guide to snakes of Florida. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas. xiii + 257 pp.

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