Apalachicola King Snake Lampropeltis getula goini (meansi)


Below: An evenly speckled  patternless Apalachicola king snake from our colony

Apalachicola King Snake Lampropeltis getula meansi (goini) Patternless

The Apalachicola king snake is rare in its small home range in the panhandle of Florida.  In the past, it was usually called the blotched king snake, though that name has fallen out of favor with many because blotching is only one of the pattern variations seen in king snakes of this region.

Below: A classic blotched phase Apalachicola king snake from our colony

Apalachicola King Snake Lampropeltis getula goini (meansi) Blotched

Apalachicola king snakes display various patterns of yellow, cream, or white speckling on a black or dark brown background. Some specimens are blotched, but others may be striped or uniformly speckled. Though goini is quite popular in the pet trade, it is unfortunate that many breeders are not working with pure specimens.  Many offspring labeled as goini are the result of crosses into Brook's or California king snakes to produce hypos, albinos, or other morphs.  It was disappointing to walk around the 2008 National Reptile Breeders Expo in Daytona Beach, FL and not see any pure looking Apalachicola king snakes, while many were seen in years past.  It should be noted that goini is very closely related to the eastern king snake L. g. getula. In fact, many consider goini merely a regional variation of that snake, so it should not be surprising that king snakes with the getula look turn up in the goini range in the wild and in pure locality bloodlines in captivity. 

Below: A partially striped Apalachicola king snake from our colony

Apalachicola King Snake Lampropeltis getula meansi (goini) Striped

The offspring that we produce are quite variable, with patterns ranging from striped to blotched to the chain pattern typical of eastern kings. Many have beautiful red coloration, though this tends to fade with age. As they mature, the amount of speckling increases until some specimens become almost patternless. The babies with the most speckling and interesting patterns will fetch the highest prices, but all will be attractive. 

Below: Newborn baby Apalachicola king snakes

Apalachicola king snakes (Lampropeltis getula goini "meansi") hatching

Below: A brightly colored striped baby Apalachicola king snake from our colony

Apalachicola king snake Lampropeltis getula goini "meansi" Striped Phase



In the Wild

Below: A Pine flatwoods covers much of the Apalachicola lowlands region

Pine flatwoods Apalachicola National Forest

The eastern Apalachicola lowlands region, which encompasses much of Franklin and Liberty Counties in the panhandle of Florida, lies primarily between the Ochlocknee (in the east) and Apalachicola Rivers (in the west). The type specimen for L. g. goini actually came from west of the Apalachicola River in Gulf County, FL and some have suggested that the subspecies goini is invalid because it was described based on an intergrade with L. g. getula, the eastern king snake. Dr. Kenney Krysko has proposed the name L. g. meansi for the "true" Apalachicola kings. His theory is that this king snake form was isolated on a barrier island in times of higher sea levels.  When the water receded, eastern king snakes reinvaded the area and intergraded with L. g. meansi. We will not go into depth on the taxonomic debate here, but it should be noted that snakes that look like classic Apalachicola kings turn up west of the Apalachicola River in Gulf County, FL and snakes that look almost like typical eastern king snakes turn up in the eastern Apalachicola lowlands. 

Below: A wild king snake from Gulf County, FL that shows characteristics of the eastern and Apalachicola forms

Much of the Apalachicola lowlands region is forested in pine flatwoods, cypress and titi swamps. Along the gulf coast, salt marshes form inland of the barrier islands, often bordering sand pine scrub on ancient coastal dunes. The Apalachicola king snake can be found in almost any habitat here, though it is common nowhere. Specimens are occasionally found crossing roads, though more are probably found under artificial cover. Because most of this area is undisturbed forests or pine plantations, "good" artificial cover like tin and boards is hard to find. A few herpers have improved this situation by discreetly laying out cover and creating their own secret spots. Seeing an Apalachicola king snake in the wild is a true challenge, but it is a sight that keeps devoted field herpers coming back time after time. Interesting herps like gulf coast box turtles, scarlet king snakes, and brown chin racers (which share their range almost completely with goini), and many other species are common in the area, so it makes for a fun herping trip even when no Apalachicola king snakes are found.

Below: David Justice, Daniel Parker, and Kevin Enge pose with a freshly caught king snake found under tin Photo by Dillon Justice


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