Common names: corn snakes, fox snakes, rat snakes, ratsnakes.
Elaphe is a genus of non-venomous colubrid snakes found in North and Central America. All are powerful constrictors and valuable allies to man in his efforts to control rodent populations. Ten species are currently recognized.


Species Authority Subsp.* Common name Geographic range
E. alleghaniensis (Holbrook, 1836) 0 Eastern ratsnake
E. bairdi (Yarrow, 1880) 0 Baird's rat snake
E. flavirufa (Cope, 1867) 0 Culebra-ratonera tropical
E. gloydi Conant, 1940 0 Eastern foxsnake
E. guttata (Linnaeus, 1766) 1 Corn snake
E. obsoleta (Say In James, 1823) 0 Rat snake
E. phaescens Dowling, 1952 0 Culebra-ratonera yucateca
E. slowinskii Burbrink, 2002 0 Slowinski's cornsnake
E. spiloides (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854) 0 Gray ratsnake
E. vulpina (Baird and Girard, 1853) 0 Fox snake
*) Not including the nominate subspecies.


Utiger et al. (2002) argued that North American Rat Snakes of the genus Elaphe are a monophyletic group and thus separate from Old World members of the genus. They therefore resurrected the available name Pantherophis Fitzinger for all North American taxa (north of Mexico).

Crother et al. (2003) rejected the taxonomic change to Pantherophis, preferring to retain the current concept of Elaphe pending further review.


Further reading

  • Utiger U, Helfenberger N, Schatti B, Schmidt C, Ruf M, Ziswiler V. 2002. Molecular systematics and phylogeny of Old and New World ratsnakes, Elaphe Auct., and related genera (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae). Russian Journal of Herpetology 9(2):105-124.

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