Florida Peninsula Kingsnakes by Richard Bartlett on 2020-03-30 20:04:12
A portrait of a canefield king.
Time and again Jake and I had mentioned taking a drive to South Florida and trying our luck at locating 1 or 2 of the once common and now much less common Florida peninsula kingsnakes. By today’s genetic standards these are simply eastern kings. By Linnaean standards they are easily differentiated from the eastern kingsnake. Some researchers have simply considered them an intergrade between the eastern and the South Florida kingsnake. Others (and I prefer this designation) have assigned the subspecific designation of Lampropeltis getula floridana
to these. With this latter designation Florida would be populated by 4 kingsnake subspecies, the Apalachicola Lowlands, the common, the South Florida (aka Brook’s), and the Florida.
It was early in January 2020 that we finally made the jaunt southward. We beat a southbound cold front by 36 hours. And in those 36 hours we searched hard for the Peninsula (or Florida) kings. Found were garter snakes, a very disfigured yellow rat, some banded and brown water snakes, and some baby American crocodiles. No kings---Florida or otherwise.
The next morning dawned a bit “brrrrrish”—close to 50F. For Floridians that’s brrrrrish. We decided to recheck a few boards just in case a wandering king decided to seek shelter from the cool. Few boards zero kings but one bobcat. We drove 15 miles to a new venue. First several boards, zero. One more board area to recheck and the we’d be heading north again.
Glad we rechecked. 1 yearling king was at home. Quite a thrill, for it was the first one either Jake or I had seen for 10+ years.
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