Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (200,000 to >2,500,000 square km (about 80,000 to >1,000,000 square miles)) The range extends from southern Alberta, Montana, eastern Wyoming, eastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico eastward through southern Manitoba, Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and northern and central Illinois to northwestern Indiana and disjunctly to central Ohio, southward to northern Texas, western Oklahoma, and northern half of Missouri, at elevations of 120-2,290 meters (400-7,500 feet) but usually below 1,830 meters (6,000 feet) (Rossman et al. 1996, Hammerson 1999, Ernst and Ernst 2003, Stebbins 2003, Walley et al. 2003).

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Range Description

This species ranges from central United States to south-central Canada. Its range extends from southern Alberta, Montana, eastern Wyoming, eastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico eastward through southern Manitoba, Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and northern and central Illinois to northwestern Indiana and disjunctly to central Ohio, southward to northern Texas, western Oklahoma, and northern half of Missouri, at elevations of 120 to 2,290 m (400 to 7,500 feet) but usually below 1,830 m (6,000 feet) (Rossman et al. 1996, Hammerson 1999, Ernst and Ernst 2003, Stebbins 2003, Walley et al. 2003).
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Geographic Range

Plains garter snakes are found throughout the North American plains region, from the Oklahoma panhandle, northernmost Texas, and northeastern New Mexico north to southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and east through Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Ernst, C., E. Ernst. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books.
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Geographic Range

Plains garter snakes are found throughout the North American plains region, from the Oklahoma panhandle, northernmost Texas, and northeastern New Mexico north to southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and east through Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Ernst, C., E. Ernst. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books.
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Continent: North-America
Distribution: S Canada (Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan), USA (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, E Wyoming, E Colorado, NE New Mexico, Oklahoma, N Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas)
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Plains garter snakes are long, striped garter snakes, usually from 40 to 70 cm long, but occasionally up to 109.5 cm. They have a dorsal and two lateral, yellow or orange stripes on a background scale color of dark brown to dark greenish. Lateral stripes are on scale rows 3 and 4. The sides may have some red pigmentation. Scales are keeled and measure 19 to 21 rows at the widest part of the body. There is a row of black spots between the lateral stripes and the scales on their belly. Males are slightly larger, with slightly longer tails.

Range length: 109.5 (high) cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes shaped differently

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Physical Description

Plains garter snakes are long, striped garter snakes, usually from 40 to 70 cm long, but occasionally up to 109.5 cm. They have a dorsal and two lateral, yellow or orange stripes on a background scale color of dark brown to dark greenish. Lateral stripes are on scale rows 3 and 4. The sides may have some red pigmentation. Scales are keeled and measure 19 to 21 rows at the mid-body. There is a row of black spots between the lateral stripes and the ventral scales. They have an undivided anal plate. Males are slightly larger, with more ventral and subcaudal scales and slightly longer tails. Male tails are about 20.5 to 27.8% of total body length, whereas females have tails that are 17.6 to 27.5% of their body length. Males also have tubercles on their chin shields. There are no described subspecies.

Range length: 109.5 (high) cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes shaped differently

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Size

Length: 102 cm

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Type Information

Holotype for Thamnophis radix
Catalog Number: USNM 719
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: Female;
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Racine, Wisconsin, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Baird, S. F. & Girard, C. 1853. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 2 (5): 34.
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Ecology

Habitat

Montana Valley and Foothill Grasslands Habitat

This taxon can be found in the Montana valley and foothill grasslands ecoregions, along with some other North American ecoregions. This ecoregion occupies high valleys and foothill regions in the central Rocky Mountains of Montana in the USA and Alberta, Canada. The ecoregion the uppermost flatland reaches of the Missouri River drainage involving part of the Yellowstone River basin, and extends into the Clark Fork-Bitterroot drainage of the Columbia River system. The ecoregion, consisting of three chief disjunctive units, also extends marginally into a small portion of northern Wyoming. Having moderate vertebrate species richness, 321 different vertebrate taxa have been recorded here.

The dominant vegetation type of this ecoregion consists chiefly of wheatgrass (Agropyron spp.) and fescue (Festuca spp.). Certain valleys, notably the upper Madison, Ruby, and Red Rock drainages of southwestern Montana, are distinguished by extensive sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) communities as well. This is a reflection of semi-arid conditions caused by pronounced rain shadow effects and high elevation. Thus, near the Continental Divide in southwestern Montana, the ecoregion closely resembles the nearby Snake/Columbia shrub steppe.

A number of mammalian species are found in the ecoregion, including: American Pika (Ochotona princeps), a herbivore preferring talus habitat; Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis), Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), who live in underground towns that may occupy vast areas; Brown Bear (Ursos arctos); Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata), a species who selects treeless meadows and talus as habitat; and the Northern River Otter (Lontra canadensis), a species that can tolerate fresh or brackish water and builds its den in the disused burrows of other animals.

There are six distinct anuran species that can be found in the Montana valleys and foothills grasslands, including: Canadian Toad (Anaxyrus hemiophrys); Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas); Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens); Plains Spadefoot Toad (Spea bombifrons); Columbia Spotted Frog (Rana luteiventris), an anuran that typically breeds in shallow quiet ponds; and the Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata).

Exactly two amphibian taxa occurr in the ecoregion: Long-toed Salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum), a species who prefers lentic waters and spends most of its life hidden under bark or soil; Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum).

Reptilian species within the ecoregion are: Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum), an adaptable taxon that can be found on rocky slopes, prairie and near streambeds; Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta); Western Plains Garter Snake (Thamnophis radix), a taxon that can hibernate in the burrows of rodents or crayfish or even hibernate underwater; Yellow-bellied Racer (Coluber constrictor); Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera); Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans); Rubber Boa (Charina bottae); Western Skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus); and the Western Rattlesnake (Crotalis viridis).

The ecoregion supports endemic and relict fisheries: Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi), Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri), and fluvial Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus), a relict species from past glaciation.

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Comments: This snake often occurs in the vicinity of ponds, sloughs, marshes, lakes, or slow creeks or rivers, generally in prairie and farmland areas but also in the pinyon-juniper zone; it often disperses into adjacent terrestrial habitats, such as vacant lots, residential areas, old dumps, or prairie (Rossman et al. 1996, Hammerson 1999, Ernst and Ernst 2003, Stebbins 2003). Hibernation sites incude burrows of rodents or crayfish, crevices, anthills, old wells, spaces under concrete, and other similar sites; some may hibernate underwater.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This snake often occurs in the vicinity of ponds, sloughs, marshes, lakes, or slow creeks or rivers, generally in prairie and farmland areas but also in the pinyon-juniper zone; it often disperses into adjacent terrestrial habitats, such as vacant lots, residential areas, old dumps, or prairie (Rossman et al. 1996, Hammerson 1999, Ernst and Ernst 2003, Stebbins 2003). Hibernation sites include burrows of rodents or crayfish, crevices, anthills, old wells, spaces under concrete, and other similar sites; some may hibernate underwater.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Plains garter snakes are found in meadows, prairies, and other grasslands near sources of water, such as ponds, streams, marshes, and sloughs. They may also be found in swampy areas or along rivers. They may be found in suburban or urban vacant lots. Where they are found along with their close relative Thamnophis sirtalis, they may be found in more dry habitats. This is because Thamnophis sirtalis out-compete plains garter snakes for the more moist habitats.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; riparian

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Plains garter snakes are found in meadows, prairies, and other grasslands near sources of water, such as ponds, streams, marshes, and sloughs. They may also be found in swampy areas or along rivers. They may be found in suburban or urban vacant lots. Habitats they occupy may be influenced by the presence of a congener; where they co-occur with common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis), they may be found in more dry habitats than common garter snakes.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; riparian

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Eats amphibians, fishes, small mammals, insects, earthworms, and carrion (Stebbins 1985).

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Food Habits

Plains garter snakes eat a wide variety of animal prey. The diet of plains garter snakes and Thamnophis sirtalis is very similar, so they probably compete for prey where they are found in the same area. They eat frogs and toads, salamanders, fish, birds, small Rodentia, Hirudinea, Oligochaeta, and Orthoptera. Amphibians eaten include Acris crepitans, Bufo americanus, Bufo cognatus, Hyla, Pseudacris triseriata, Rana blairi, Rana pipiens, and various Caudata. They also eat Gambusia affinis, Phoxinus erythrogaster, Pimephales notatus, Riparia riparia, and Sturnella magna. Plains garter snakes find prey by following scent trails, then grabbing prey once they catch up with them.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; fish; insects; terrestrial worms

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Food Habits

Plains garter snakes eat a wide variety of animal prey, overlapping significantly with the prey preferences of common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis). They have been recorded preying on frogs and toads, salamanders, fish, birds, small rodents, leeches, earthworms, and grasshoppers. Amphibians eaten include northern cricket frogs (Acris crepitans), American toads (Anaxyrus americanus americanus), great plains toads (Anaxyrus cognatus), tree frogs (Hyla species), striped chorus frogs (Pseudacris triseriata), plains leopard frogs (Lithobates blairi, northern leopard frogs (Lithobates pipiens), and various salamanders. They have been recorded eating mosquitofish (Gambusia marshi), southern redbelly dace (Chrosomus erythrogaster), bluntnose minnows (Pimephales notatus), bank swallows (Riparia riparia), and eastern meadowlarks (Sturnella magna). Plains garter snakes find prey by following an olfactory trail, then grabbing prey once they catch up with them.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; fish; insects; terrestrial worms

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates, Piscivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Plains garter snakes are important predators of amphibians, earthworms, leeches, and other animals in their prairie habitats.

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Predation

Plains garter snakes may be preyed on by birds of prey, such as Buteo lineatus, Buteo swainsoni, Falco sparverius, and Circus cyaneus. Other predators include Vulpes, Canis latrans, Mephitis mephitis, Neovison vison, Felis catus, and Lampropeltis triangulum. Humans also sometimes kill prairie garter snakes. These garter snakes will bite, emit a foul smell, or defecate to discourage predators. Their lateral stripes make them difficult to see in their grassy habitats and as they move. Plains garter snakes also have a series of antipredator displays that they will use, including hiding their heads, striking with the mouth closed or open, coiling or balling up their bodies, extending the body flat, and waving the tail.

Known Predators:

  • red-shouldered hawks (Buteo_lineatus)
  • Swainson's hawks (Buteo_swainsoni)
  • kestrels (Falco_sparverius)
  • northern harriers (Circus_cyaneus)
  • foxes (Vulpes)
  • coyotes (Canis_latrans)
  • striped skunks (Mephitis_mephitis)
  • mink (Neovison_vison)
  • domestic cats (Felis_catus)
  • milk snakes (Lampropeltis_triangulum)

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Ecosystem Roles

Plains garter snakes are important predators of amphibians, earthworms, leeches, and other animals in their prairie habitats.

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Predation

Plains garter snakes may be preyed on by birds of prey, such as red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus), Swainson's hawks (Buteo swainsoni), kestrels (Falco sparverius), and northern harriers (Circus cyaneus). Other predators include foxes (Vulpes), coyotes (Canis latrans), striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis), mink (Neovison vison), domestic cats (Felis catus), and milk snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum). Humans also incidentally and intentionally kill prairie garter snakes. These garter snakes will bite, emit a foul smelling musk, or defecate to discourage predators. Their lateral stripes make them difficult to see in their grassy habitats and as they move. Plains garter snakes also have a series of antipredator displays that they will use, including hiding their heads, striking with the mouth closed or open, coiling or balling up their bodies, extending the body flat on the substrate, and waving the tail. They might also take refuge in water. Responses to threats vary with age.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: This species is represented by a very large number of occurrences (subpopulations) (Walley et al. 2003).

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Global Abundance

100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Adult population size is unknown but undoubtedly exceeds 100,000. This snake is very common in many parts of its large range.

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General Ecology

Population density estimates in different areas range from about 50 to several hundred per ha. In northern Illinois, density was estimated at 40 or 107 adults per hectare, depending on the method used (Stanford and King 2004).

In northern Illinois, adult females had a higher annual survival rate than did adult males (0.45 vs 0.35) (Stanford and King 2004).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Plains garter snakes use their sense of smell mostly. They find prey, mates, and hibernation sites by following scent trails. They also use vision and vibrations to help find their way around, avoid predators, and find prey.

Communication Channels: tactile ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; polarized light ; tactile ; vibrations ; chemical

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Communication and Perception

Plains garter snakes use their sense of smell extensively. They find prey, mates, and hibernacula by following chemical trails. They also use vision and vibrations to detect threats and navigate. Some evidence suggests they may navigate using polarized light. Males use touch in courtship rituals.

Communication Channels: tactile ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; polarized light ; tactile ; vibrations ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Active from April to November in north (Vogt 1981), March to November in south (Tennant 1984). Diurnal in mild weather, active day or night in hot summer weather (Hammerson 1982).

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Life Cycle

Development

Plains garter snakes grow approximately 1.1 cm per week during their first year, after which growth slows.

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Development

Plains garter snakes grow at a rate of approximately 1.1 cm per week during their first year. Growth rates slow in subsequent years.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

A captive plains garter snake was recorded living to almost 8 1/2 years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
8.5 (high) years.

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Lifespan/Longevity

A captive plains garter snake was recorded living to almost 8 1/2 years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
8.5 (high) years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 8.4 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

Gives birth to litter of 5-92 (usually fewer than 40), July-September; average litter size increases with female age/size (Stanford and King 2004); most become sexually mature at two years of age (Fitch 1970, Stanford and King 2004). In Illinois, most individuals lived not more than 6-7 years (Stanford and King 2004).

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Males find females by using scent trails left by the females. Both males and females can mate with multiple individuals.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Mating takes place after these snakes emerge from hibernation, in April or May. Plains garter snakes give birth to live young from June through September, after a gestation period of 83 to 102 days. There are from 5 to 60 young in a litter, but usually 10 to 20.

Breeding interval: Plains garter snakes breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Plains garter snakes breed in April or May.

Range number of offspring: 5 to 60.

Average number of offspring: 10-20.

Range gestation period: 83 to 102 days.

Range birth mass: 0.93 to 2.48 g.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 to 3 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Females give birth to live young. After the young are born, they do not need the help of either parent.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • Ernst, C., E. Ernst. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books.
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Males track females via pheromone trails and compete for mating opportunities with receptive females. Males crawl alongside females and push on her with their noses while their bodies undulate. They touch the female's back with their tongues and attempt to copulate. If the female is receptive, she will raise her tail and allow copulation. A seminal plug may be inserted to deter copulation with another male. Both males and females can mate with multiple individuals.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Mating takes place after these snakes emerge from hibernation, in April or May. Females are sexually mature in their 2nd or 3rd year. Plains garter snakes give birth to live young from June through September, after a gestation period of 83 to 102 days. There are from 5 to 60 young in a litter, but usually 10 to 20. Litters may be larger in northern parts of the range, litter size varies with nutritional status and size of the female. Young are born at sizes from 11.9 to 24.1 cm and 0.93 to 2.48 g.

Breeding interval: Plains garter snakes breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Plains garter snakes breed in April or May.

Range number of offspring: 5 to 60.

Average number of offspring: 10-20.

Range gestation period: 83 to 102 days.

Range birth mass: 0.93 to 2.48 g.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 to 3 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Females gestate and give birth to live young, investing significant nutritional resources. After the young are born, there is no further parental involvement.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • Ernst, C., E. Ernst. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Thamnophis radix

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2007

Assessor/s
Hammerson, G.A.

Reviewer/s
Cox, N., Chanson, J.S. & Stuart, S.N. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of habitat modification, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
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Plains garter snakes are not considered threatened, although regional populations may be vulnerable. They are considered endangered in Ohio and a species of concern in Arkansas.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Plains garter snakes are not considered threatened, although regional populations may be vulnerable. They are considered endangered in Ohio and a species of concern in Arkansas.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size probably are relatively stable.

Global Long Term Trend: Increase of 10-25% to decline of 30%

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Population

Population
This species is represented by a very large number of occurrences (subpopulations) (Walley et al. 2003). The adult population size is unknown but undoubtedly exceeds 100,000, probably much more. This snake is very common in many parts of its large range. The extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are probably relatively stable.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Degree of Threat: Low

Comments: No major threats are known. This species tolerates a good deal of habitat alteration. Many are killed on roads or by mowing equipment, but this does not constitute a major threat.

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Major Threats
No major threats are known. This species tolerates a good deal of habitat alteration. Many are killed on roads or by mowing equipment, but this does not constitute a major threat.
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Management

Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Many occurrences are in protected areas.

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Many occurrences are in protected areas.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no adverse effects of plains garter snakes on humans. These are nonvenomous snakes that are shy and retiring, in general, although they will bite if threatened.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Plains garter snakes are important members of the native prairie habitats they are found in.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no adverse effects of plains garter snakes on humans. These are nonvenomous snakes that are shy and retiring, in general, although they will bite if threatened.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Plains garter snakes are important members of the native prairie habitats they are found in.

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Wikipedia

Plains Garter Snake

The Plains garter snake (Thamnophis radix) is a species of garter snake native to most of the central United States as far north as Canada and as far south as Texas. It has a distinctive orange or yellow stripe from its head to tail, the rest of its body is mainly a gray-green color. The snake is commonly found living near water sources such as streams and ponds, but can also be found in urban areas and vacant lots. Although the IUCN lists the species as "Least Concern", some states have given it their own special status.

Description[edit]

Physical[edit]

Thamnophis radix

The Plains garter snake has either an orange or yellow stripe down its back and distinctive black bars on its lip.[1] The stripe normally starts at the head and continues all the way to the tail tip.[2][3] Lateral stripes are located on the third and fourth scale rows and are normally a greenish-yellow color.[2][3] Its belly is gray-green with small dark spots along the edges.[3] Most have distinctive light yellow spots on the top of the head.[2][3] The snake is described as medium-sized and is on average around 3 ft (0.91 m).[2]

Behavior[edit]

Described as "one of the most cold-tolerant snakes", on warmer winter days, it often comes out of hibernation to bask in the sun.[3] It is most active between April and late October depending on location.[4] Mating normally takes place in April or May and birth takes place between August and October.[3] Courtship usually occurs near the communal hibernation site, and polygynous mating systems have been observed.[4] The snake's typical diet consists of earthworms, slugs, and small amphibians,[3][5] including the larvae of salamanders.[4] It has also been observed eating small mammals and birds, such as bank swallows and eastern meadowlarks.[5]

Habitat[edit]

The Plains garter snake is commonly found in meadows and prairies adjacent to water sources, such as marshes, streams, and ponds.[4] In built-up areas of the Chicago area, it has been observed in abandoned buildings, trash heaps, and vacant lots.[4] Populations in urban and suburban areas have been greatly reduced due to building activities and pesticide use.[6] Its habitat range overlaps with that of the common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) in many areas, and it is thought the species may hybridize.[4][6]

Range[edit]

The snake ranges across a broad area of North America from as far north as central Alberta to as far south as Northern Texas and New Mexico. In the United States, it is also found in Iowa , eastern Wyoming, northern Kentucky, eastern Colorado, Minnesota, southern Wisconsin, Illinois, northwestern Indiana, Oklahoma, and the northern half of Missouri. A small population is also in Ohio.[4][7]In Canada, the species is also found in Manitoba.[7] It can be found at elevations from 400 to 7,500 feet but prefer to stay under 6,000 feet.[7]

Subspecies[edit]

Formerly, two subspecies of the Plains garter snake were widely recognized, but most authorities have since dropped subspecies recognition. The first, T. r. radix, was commonly referred to as the eastern Plains garter snake, while T. r. haydeni (Kennicott 1860) was considered the western subspecies. However, the distinction between the two is weak, partly based on the number of scales and partly on slight coloration differences, with T. r. haydeni said to have cleaner markings and more ventral and neck scales. As the two subspecies share the same habitat in many regions of the United States, further complicated by their strikingly similar appearance, many now do not recognize the two subspecies.

Conservation[edit]

The Plains garter snake is listed as Least Concern (IUCN 3.1) by the IUCN Red List due to the snake's ability to modify its habitat, its wide distribution and its presumed large population.[7] However, the snake is considered to be "Endangered" in Ohio and is on a state list of endangered species.[4][8] In Wisconsin, it is a species of special concern.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Conant, Robert; Robert Stebbins; Joseph Collins (1999). Roger Tory Peterson, ed. Peterson First Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-395-97195-6. 
  2. ^ a b c d Breckenridge, John (1944). Reptiles and amphibians of Minnesota. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-0573-4. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Thamnophis radix -- Plains Gartersnake". Illinois Natural History Survey. University of Illinois. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Rossman, Douglas; Neil Ford; Richard Seigel (1996). The garter snakes: evolution and ecology. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 235–241url=http://books.google.com/books?id=n2rW7E8_uJoC&pg=PA235&dq=Thamnophis+radix&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&as_brr=3&client=firefox–a&cd=5#v=onepage&q=Thamnophis%20radix&f=false. ISBN 0-8061-2820-8. 
  5. ^ a b Dewey, Tanya. "Thamnophis radix (plains garter snake)". University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. University of Michigan. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Degenhardt, William; Charles Painter; Andrew Price (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. UNM Press. pp. 324–325. ISBN 0-8263-3811-9. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Thamnophis radix". Hammerson, G.A. IUCN Red List. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  8. ^ "Ohio's Endangered Species". Ohio DNR. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  9. ^ "Plains Gartersnake (Thamnophis radix) Endangered Resources Program Species Information". Wisconsin DNR. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Walley et al. (2003) and Crother et al. (2008) did not recognize subspecies.

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