Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
from the July 28, 2008 Newsletter, issued from near Natchez, Mississippi:
HEAD OF A SPECKLED KINGSNAKE
Speckled Kingsnakes, LAMPROPELTIS GETULUS ssp. HOLBROOKI, are among the most common and conspicuous snakes here. Despite already writing about them, when I ran across one this week glistening in bright sunlight along the road I decided to take a head-picture anyway, remembering how scale arrangement on a snake's head is so valuable during the identification process, and how hard it is to find good head pictures. You can see my resulting headshot above.
Speckled Kingsnakes are a subspecies of the Common Kingsnake. Where I grew up in western Kentucky our kingsnakes were plain shiny black, being members of the subspecies niger. The subspecies grade into one another, some individuals not clearly being one or the other.
It's interesting that back in Mexico Speckled Racers, not closely related but similar in overall appearance, also were often the most common and conspicuous species. My picture of a Speckled Racer in Querétaro is at http://www.backyardnature.net/n/07/070526sr.jpg/.