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Posted by WW on April 02, 2003 at 05:02:44:
In Reply to: Can you answer one more Pantherophis question? posted by meretseger on April 01, 2003 at 08:57:35:
:Ok, I think I have it down that P. allegehensis and P. spilodes BOTH have melanistic/black members.
So does Elaphe obsoleta, the form from west of the Mississippi! There are thus three black forms.
: So any given 'black rat snake' could be one or the other if you don't know the locality. Do these two forms hybridize in the wild?
Good question - this is something that Burbrink's review did not discuss, and also one of the reasons why his paper has given rise to a lot of discussion and arguments.
> And if I have a black rat snake, do I have any hope of finding out which one he is? I'm willing to count scales.
There are a number of characters that separate the three species, but none appears to be 100% diagnostic. This means that you have to plough through a number of different counts to get a reasonable level of certainty of what you have got. Since this is not easily conveyed in a forum, your best bet will be to either get the paper through your library (inter-library loan if necessary), or to write to Burbrink and ask for a reprint.
But then, even with multivariate analysis, Burbrink himself couldn't separate northern alleghaniensis from northern spiloides, so don't get your hopes up too much.