At present they seem to be a full species. Many years ago, when friends were going to Queretaro, Mexico, we weren't sure if they were milk snakes, gray bands, or what. To further confuse the issue, these new snakes would breed with the pyromelana, mexicana, triangulum, and zonata species of kingsnakes and produce fertile offspring. There also seemed to be two colour phases. A larger darker looking one and a smaller brightly colored phase. All of mine are of the brighter type. The albino ruthveni in the trade originated from some of the first wild caughts, not from long term captive breeding. There is a very nice picture of a ruthveni on the cover of Ron Markel's Kingsnakes and Milk Snakes book (TFH 1990). The albino ruthveni is now being bred to many other species to move the albino genes into other species. Many expensive "mutts" are now on the market. These "mutts" are not available here. I try very hard to "keep the faith" and breed true to the subspecies, although with the taxonomists, it is hard to be sure. Anyway, you might consider the Ruthvens Kingsnake as a species to add to your collection. They do well and are medium size.
To Applegate Reptiles Main Page