Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta)
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Synonyms: Pantherophis obsoletus, Pantherophis spiloides, Gray Ratsnake, Central Rat Snake, Central ratsnake, Elaphe spiloides

 

 

 

This a distinct and strikingly coloured colubrine snake inhabits the Lower Great Lakes region in eastern North America. In the early XXI century, the taxonomy of this species underwent significant changes; the snake, formerly known as Elaphe obsoleta, was split into three species: Elaphe obsoleta (western), E. spiloides (central), and E. alleghaniensis (eastern ratsnakes). Additionally, the snakes of genus Elaphe occurring in the New World were moved from Elaphe to the resurrected genus Pantherophis, which is not recognized by Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).

Much taxonomic uncertainty remains for a very large area of the former Elaphe obsoleta range, and the precise distributions of E. obsoleta, E. alleghaniensis and E. spiloides have been questioned. It is also unclear whether these three new species differ morphologically and could be easily identified in the field.

The common name for “Elaphe obsoleta” was changed to the “Western Rat Snake” or "western ratsnake". Neither the scientific nor vernacular names are now attributed to the black rat snakes from eastern north America. Thus, the lower Great Lakes populations could be included in P. spiloides (central ratsnake) or P. alleghaniensis (eastern ratsnake), although some still treat it as P. obsoletus (western? ratsnake). To make the matter more complicated, some taxonomists have scrapped the name obsoleta altogether, as an invalid taxon, making the “obsoleta” obsolete!

Because of these taxonomic uncertainties, we prefer to treat this species, or rather subspecies, the way we always treated it, i.e., as the Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta obsoeta).

 

Black Rat Snake, Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta, Pantherophis obsoletus   6936
Black Rat Snake
(Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta)
Long Point, Ontario, Canada
Copyright © Michael Patrikeev
All Rights Reserved
     
Black Rat Snake, Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta, Pantherophis obsoletus   6926
Black Rat Snake
(Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta)
Long Point, Ontario, Canada
Copyright © Michael Patrikeev
All Rights Reserved
     
Black Rat Snake, Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta, Pantherophis obsoletus   7357
Black Rat Snake
(Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta)
Long Point, Ontario, Canada
Copyright © Michael Patrikeev
All Rights Reserved
     
Black Rat Snake, Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta, Pantherophis obsoletus   7323
Black Rat Snake
(Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta)
Long Point, Ontario, Canada
Copyright © Michael Patrikeev
All Rights Reserved
   

 

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