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Includes a distribution map for the species / subspecies Pantherophis guttatus, Pantherophis guttatus roseaceus, Pantherophis slowinski, Pantherophis emoryi emoryi , Pantherophis emoryi meahllmorum & Pantherophis emoryi intermontanus as well as photo's, scales counts and references






After Burbrink 2002

  Cornsnake Rosy Ratsnake Kisatchie Cornsnake
  Pantherophis guttatus Pantherophis guttatus rosaceus Pantherophis slowinski
Ventrals 203-240 223-245 219
Subcaudals 47-76 66-84 72
Dorsal Blotches 25-38 35-50 46
Tail & Dorsal Blotches 34-47   44-59
Av. Adult Size 90-120cm 60-90cm 76-121cm
Width Dorsal Blotches 13-19   10.5-15
Length Dorsal Blotches 5-7   3-5
Ventral Pattern Black checkerboard pattern Orange/Yellow Blotched pattern or absent Black numerous square belly markings on a white background
  Great Plains Ratsnake Southern Plains Ratsnake Intermountain Ratsnake
  Pantherophis emoryi emoryi Pantherophis emoryi meahllmorum Pantherophis emoryi intermontanus
Ventrals 197-236 275-312 (Ventral + Subcaudals) 282 (Ventral + Subcaudal)
Subcaudals 58-83    
Dorsal Blotches More than 44.5 Fewer than 44.5  
Tail & Dorsal Blotches 48-65 39-67 (average 55) 60-84
Av. Adult Size 80-150cm 48"+ less than 80 cm
Width Dorsal Blotches 9-15 6-8* Approx half that of P.e.e
Length Dorsal Blotches 2.5-5.5 6-9*  
Ventral Pattern Black numerous square belly markings on a pale background White or Cream with little to no dark spotting usually beginning after the 50th ventral and confined to the outer edges.  


2008:Collins & Taggart propose an alternative classification of the New World Ratsnakes suggested in Burbrink 2002 paper. The genus of Pantherophis(Fitzinger 1843) shall consist of these species; guttatus, slowinski & emoryi.

2007: Burbrink & Lawson using DNA, placed the genus Pantherophis in synonymy with Pituophis. The resulting taxonomy for the nine North American species affected would be: Eastern Rat Snake (Pituophis alleghaniensis), Baird's Rat Snake (Pituophis bairdi), Great Plains Rat Snake (Pituophis emoryi), Eastern Fox Snake (Pituophis gloydi), Eastern Corn Snake (Pituophis guttatus), Western Rat Snake (Pituophis obsoletus), Slowinski's Corn Snake (Pituophis slowinskii), Midland Rat Snake (Pituophis spiloides) and Western Fox Snake (Pituophis vulpinus).

2003: Ernst & Ernst recognise E. emoryi & E. guttata as distinct species

2003: Crother et al. notes Utiger et a (2002) proposals but does not use it, pending further review, but adopts Burbrink's (2002) proposals but uses the following Common names to describe each species, Red Cornsnake (E. guttata), Great Plains Ratsnake (E. emoryi), and Slowinski's Cornsnake (E. slowinski)

2002: Utiger et al. using mtDNA, presented evidence that North American Rat Snakes of the genus Elaphe are a monophyletic lineage different from Old World members of the genus, and resurrected the available name Pantherophis Fitzinger for all North American (north of Mexico) taxa. With the new genus name Pantherophis also came the gender change on the species, so guttata now became guttatus.

2002: Burbrink using cytochrome b sequences to examine phylogenetic relationships among E. guttata populations, found no support for the subspecies, intermontanus and meahllmorum and considered them junior synonyms of E. guttata emoryi. In his study he recognises 3 partitions of E.guttata. An eastern partition (east of the Mississippi River) corresponding to E. guttata guttata, a western partition corresponding to E. guttata emoryi (including E. g. intermontanus and E. g. meahllmorum), and a central partition in western Louisiana and eastern Texas corresponding to Elaphe slowinskli. Burbrink describes slowinskii

1994: Smith et al describes Elaphe emoryi meahllmorum

1996: Vaughan, Kathryn R., Dixon, James R., and Thomas, Robert A. do not recognize Elaphe emoryi as a species. Based on data collected from 337 specimens, 51 of which were from Louisiana. the remaining from Texas and Oklahoma they recognise one species with three subspecies, Elaphe guttata meahllmorum in south Texas, Elaphe guttata emoryi in central and north Texas, and Elaphe guttata guttata in east Texas on into Louisiana.

1942: Woodbury & Woodbury describe Elaphe guttata intermontana

1853: Baird & Girard describe Elaphe emoryi

1888: Cope describes Elaphe guttata rosacea

1766: Linnaeus describes Elaphe guttata

Species / Subspecies and the papers where they were first described

Elaphe emoryi (Baird and Girard, 1853) - Cat. N. Amer. Rept., Pt. 1, p. 157
Elaphe emoryi meahllmorum (Smith, Chiszar, Staley and Tepedelen. 1994). Texas Journal of Science, 46(3):259-292
Elaphe emoryi intermontana (Woodbury & Woodbury, 1942)
Elaphe guttata (Linnaeus, 1766) - Syst. Nat., 12th ed., Vol. 1, p. 385
Elaphe guttata rosacea (Cope, 1888) - On the snakes of Florida. Proc. U. S. Natl. Mus. 11: 381-394 [1888]
Elaphe slowinskii (Burbrink, Frank T. 2002.) Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 25(3): 465-476.

References & further reading

1.Roger Conant. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the United States and Canada East of the 100th Meridian, 1958
2.R. Kathryn Vaughan, James R. Dixon, and Robert A. Thomas. A reevaluation of populations of the corn snake Elaphe guttata (Reptilia: Serpentes: Colubridae) in Texas. . Texas J. Sci, 48(3): 175-190, August, 1996.
3.* Toby Brock pers Comm
4. John E. Werler, James Ray Dixon. Texas Snakes, A field Guide. University of Texas Press, 2005
5.Burbrink, F.T. 2002. Phylogeographic analysis of the cornsnake (Elaphe guttata) complex as inferred from maximum likelihood and Bayesian analyses. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 25 (3): 465-476
6. Herndon G. Dowling. A Taxonomic Study of the Ratsnakes, Genus Elaphe FITZINGER, 1V. A Checklist of the American Forms. University of Michigan Press. No.541. Oct 1952
7.Klaus-Dieter Schulz. A monograph of the colubrid snakes of the genus Elaphe Fitzinger.1996
8.Utiger, Urs, Notker Helfenberger, Beat Schätti, Catherine Schmidt, Markus Ruf and Vincent Ziswiler 2002. Molecular systematics and phylogeny of Old World and New World ratsnakes, Elaphe Auct., and related genera (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae). Russ. J. Herpetol. 9 (2): 105-124.
9.Woodbury, Angus M.;Woodbury, Dixson M. 1942. Studies of the rat snake, Elaphe laeta, with description of a new subspecies. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 55: 133-142.
10. Crother, B. I., J. Boundy, J. A. Campbell, K. de Quieroz, D. Frost, D. M. Green, R. Highton, J. B. Iverson, R. W. McDiarmid, P. A. Meylan, T. W. Reeder, M. E. Seidel, J. W. Sites, Jr., S. G. Tilley, and D. B. Wake. 2003. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico: update. Herpetological Review 34:198-203.
11. Vaughan, Kathryn R., Dixon, James R., and Thomas, Robert A. (1996) A reevaluation of populations of the corn snake elaphe guttata (reptilia: serpentes: colubridae) in Texas. The Texas Journal of Science - Vol. 48, No. 3, 175-190.

Photo Credits:
Pantherophis guttatus - Lou Reading
Pantherophis guttatus rosaceus - Don Sodenberg
Pantherophis slowinski - Riseabove
Pantherophis emoryi emoryi - Draybar
Pantherophis emoryi meahllmorum - Toby Brock
Pantherophis emoryi intermontanus - Terry Cox

This site has information on the following genera of Ratsnakes ... Spilotes, Spalerosophis, Ptyas, Zamenis, Elaphe, Rhinechis, Senticolis, Pseudelaphe, Pantherophis, Bogertophis, Orthriophis, Gonyosoma, Oreocryptophis, Oocatochus, Euprepiophis, Coelognathus, Archelaphe