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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

The species' range extends from central British Columbia, central Alberta, and southwestern Manitoba in Canada, south through all of the western United States (east to western South Dakota, western Nebraska, Colorado, extreme western Oklahoma, and New Mexico) to (disjunctly) northern Baja California. There are many isolated populations around the margins of the main range (Fitch 1983, Rossman et al. 1996, Grismer 2002, Stebbins 2003), notably in the Sierra Nevada and San Bernardino Mountains of California, and Sierra San Pedro Martir in Baja California (subspecies T. c. hueyi). Its elevational range extends from sea level to 3,995 m asl (13,100 feet) (very rarely); usually below 3,355 m asl (11,000 feet) (Hammerson 1999, Stebbins 2003).
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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: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) The range extends from central British Columbia, central Alberta, and southwestern Manitoba south through all of the western United States (east to western South Dakota, western Nebraska, Colorado, extreme western Oklahoma, and New Mexico) to (disjunctly) northern Baja California (Sierra San Pedro Martir), with many isolated populations around the margins of the main range (Fitch 1983, Rossman et al. 1996, Grismer 2002, Stebbins 2003). Elevational range extends from sea level to 11,000 feet (3,355 meters), or higher in some locations (Hammerson 1999, Stebbins 2003).

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Continent: Middle-America North-America
Distribution: W USA (Washington, Oregon, Montana), SW Canada,  Mexico (Baja California Norte)  Has been found in 3990 m elevation.  vagrans: W USA (Washington, Nevada, NW New Mexico), W Canada (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta)
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Physical Description

Size

Length: 107 cm

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Type Information

Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 10844
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1878
Locality: No Further Locality Data, Oregon, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 10843
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1878
Locality: No Further Locality Data, Oregon, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 10911
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1881
Locality: Fort Walla Walla, Walla Walla, Washington, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 8580
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1875
Locality: Southern California, Locality In Multiple Counties, California, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 8579
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1876
Locality: Lake Tahoe, Locality In Multiple Counties, Nevada, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 9565
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: East California, Locality In Multiple Counties, California, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 8587
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1875
Locality: Southern California, Locality In Multiple Counties, California, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 10811
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1878
Locality: Southern Oregon, Locality In Multiple Counties, Oregon, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 12564
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Fresno, California, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 11805
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Baird, Shasta, California, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 10845
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1878
Locality: Camp Warner, County Undetermined, Oregon, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 10846
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1878
Locality: Camp Warner, County Undetermined, Oregon, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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Syntype for Thamnophis elegans
Catalog Number: USNM 10840
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1878
Locality: Fort Klamath, Klamath, Oregon, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1892. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 14 (882): 655.
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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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Palouse Grasslands Habitat

This taxon is found in the Palouse grasslands, among other North American ecoregions. The Palouse ecoregion extends over eastern Washington, northwestern Idaho and northeastern Oregon. Grasslands and savannas once covered extensive areas of the inter-mountain west, from southwest Canada into western Montana in the USA. Today, areas like the great Palouse prairie of eastern  are virtually eliminated as natural areas due to conversion to rangeland. The Palouse, formerly a vast expanse of native wheatgrasses (Agropyron spp), Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis), and other grasses, has been mostly plowed and converted to wheat fields or is covered by Drooping Brome (Bromus tectorum) and other alien plant species.

the Palouse historically resembled the mixed-grass vegetation of the Central grasslands, except for the absence of short grasses. Such species as Bluebunch Wheatgrass (Elymus spicatus), Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis) and Giant Wildrye (Elymus condensatus) and the associated species Lassen County Bluegrass (Poa limosa), Crested Hairgrass (Koeleria pyramidata), Bottlebrush Squirrel-tail (Sitanion hystrix), Needle-and-thread (Stipa comata) and Western Wheatgrass (Agropyron smithii) historically dominated the Palouse prairie grassland.

Representative mammals found in the Palouse grasslands include the Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris), found burrowing in grasslands or beneath rocky scree; American Black Bear (Ursus americanus); American Pika (Ochotona princeps); Coast Mole (Scapanus orarius), who consumes chiefly earthworms and insects; Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis); Gray Wolf (Canis lupus); Great Basin Pocket Mouse (Perognathus parvus); Northern River Otter (Lontra canadensis); the Near Threatened Washington Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus washingtoni), a taxon who prefers habitat with dense grass cover and deep soils; and the Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus), a mammal that can be either arboreal or fossorial.

There are not a large number of amphibians in this ecoregion. The species present are the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad (Spea intermontana), a fossorial toad that sometimes filches the burrows of small mammals; Long-toed Salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum); Northern Leopard Frog (Glaucomys sabrinus), typically found near permanent water bodies or marsh; Columbia Spotted Frog (Rana luteiventris), usually found near permanent lotic water; Pacific Treefrog (Pseudacris regilla), who deposits eggs on submerged plant stems or the bottom of water bodies; Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum), fossorial species found in burrows or under rocks; Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii), found in arid grasslands with deep friable soils; Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas), who uses woody debris or submerged vegetation to protect its egg-masses.

There are a limited number of reptiles found in the Palouse grasslands, namely only: the Northern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea), often found in screes, rock outcrops as well as riparian vicinity; the Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta), who prefers lentic freshwater habitat with a thick mud layer; Yellow-bellied Racer (Chrysemys picta); Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus), often found under loose stones in this ecoregion; Pygmy Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma douglasii), a fossorial taxon often found in bunchgrass habitats; Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana), frequently found in sandy washes with scattered rocks; Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata), an essentially terrestrial species that prefers riparian areas and other moist habitats; Pacific Pond Turtle (Emys marmorata), a species that usually overwinters in upland habitat; Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis), who, when inactive, may hide under rocks or in animal burrows; Night Snake (Hypsiglena torquata); Western Skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus), who prefers grasslands with rocky areas; Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans), found in rocky grasslands, especially near water; Rubber Boa (Charina bottae).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in a wide variety of habitats, from lowlands to high mountains: grassland, shrubland, woodland, rocky hillsides, and open areas in forests. It is chiefly terrestrial in most areas, but also aquatic in some locations (e.g., high Sierra Nevada). Often in inhabits wetlands and areas near streams, ponds, and lakes.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Comments: This species occurs in a wide variety of habitats, from lowlands to high mountains: grassland, shrubland, woodland, and open areas in forests. It is chiefly terrestrial in most areas, but also aquatic in some locations (e.g., high Sierra Nevada). Often it inhabits wetlands and areas near streams, ponds, and lakes.

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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: Feeds on slugs, worms, snails, leeches, tadpoles, frogs, fish, mice, and occasionally small birds. Also eats insects, and carrion. Some forms capture prey in water, others feed entirely terrestrially (Nussbaum et al. 1983). Depends on amphibians in the high Sierra Nevada, California (Jennings et al. 1992).

At least in some parts of the range of this snake, the rear upper jaw teeth are relatively long and bladelike and apparently function in impaling, holding, and manipulating the prey. The snakes salivary secretions aid in breaking down prey tissues.

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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: > 300

Comments: This species is represented by hundreds of occurrences or subpopulations (e.g., see maps in Fitch 1983, Degenhardt et al. 1996, and Hammerson 1999).

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Global Abundance

100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but certainly exceeds 100,000. This snake is very common in many areas.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Comments: This snake is inactive during cold winter weather; the duration of the inactive period varies with the local climate. In most areas, activity occurs from March-April to October-November.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 17.8 years (captivity) Observations: Reproductive success appears to increase with age in these animals, suggesting increasing fecundity with age (Sparkman et al. 2007).
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Reproduction

Courtship and mating occur primarily in spring, soon after emergence from hibernation, though late summer sexual activity has been observed in some parts of the range. In the mountains, newborn individuals first appear most often in August and early September; at lower elevations births sometimes occurs as early as mid-July. Litter size usually is fewer than 20.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Thamnophis elegans

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

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2007

Assessor/s
Frost, D.R., Hammerson, G.A. & Hollingsworth, B.

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 a broad range of habitats, 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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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

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Not intrinsically vulnerable

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Population

Population
This species is represented by hundreds of occurrences or subpopulations (e.g., see maps in Fitch 1983, Degenhardt et al. 1996, and Hammerson 1999). The total adult population size is unknown but certainly exceeds 100,000. This snake is very common in many areas. Its extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are probably relatively stable. The isolated southern populations in California and Baja California are much less abundant.

Population Trend
Stable
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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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Threats

Major Threats
No major threats are known. In high-elevation areas of the southern Sierra Nevada in California, introductions of non-native trout apparently have led to declines in populations of amphibians and possibly also of T. elegans, which may depend on amphibians as a primary food resource (and which may occasionally serve as prey for trout) (Matthews et al. 2002). However, Matthews et al. (2002) did not discuss the historical distribution of T. elegans in their study areas, so the significance of extensive trout introductions in the absence of garter snakes from some areas (John Muir Wilderness) is uncertain. Further study is warranted (e.g., in the mountains of Colorado, T. elegans is a versatile feeder [Hammerson 1999], and garter snake populations may not rely much on amphibian populations).
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Degree of Threat: Low

Comments: No major threats are known. In high-elevation areas of the southern Sierra Nevada in California, introductions of non-native trout apparently have led to declines in populations of amphibians and possibly also of T. elegans, which may depend on amphibians as a primary food resource (and which may occasionally serve as prey for trout) (Matthews et al. 2002). However, Matthews et al. (2002) did not discuss the historical distribution of T. elegans in their study areas, so the significance of extensive trout introductions in the absence of garter snakes from some areas (John Muir Wilderness) is uncertain. Further study is warranted (e.g., in the mountains of Colorado, T. elegans is a versatile feeder [Hammerson 1999], and garter snake populations may not rely strongly on amphibian populations).

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Many occurrences of this species are in protected areas.
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Global Protection: Very many (>40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Many occurrences are in protected areas.

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Western terrestrial garter snake

The western terrestrial garter snake (Thamnophis elegans) is a western North American species of colubrid snake. At least five subspecies are currently recognized.

Description[edit]

Most western terrestrial garter snakes have a yellow, light orange, or white dorsal stripe, accompanied by two stripes of the same color, one on each side. Some varieties have red or black spots between the dorsal stripe and the side stripes. It is an immensely variable species, and even the most experienced herpetologists have trouble when it comes to identification. They are medium-sized snakes, usually 46–104 cm (18–41 in).

Like many species of North American garter snake, the western terrestrial garter snake possesses a mildly venomous saliva. Specimens collected from Idaho and Washington produced venom with myonecrotic (muscle tissue-killing) effects when injected into the gastrocnemius muscles of mice.[3] Several cases of mild human envenomation with local edema and other symptoms (but without any systemic symptoms) have occurred from the wandering garter snake subspecies, including in Colorado.[4][5]

This species is the only garter snake species with a well-documented tendency to constrict prey, although the constriction is inefficient when compared with the constriction of many other snakes (such as the gopher snake), involving disorganized, loose, and sometimes unstable coils and a longer time required to kill prey.[6][7] Snakes from Colorado populations of terrestrial garter snakes appear to be more efficient at killing their prey by constriction than those from Pacific Coast populations.[6]

Geographic range[edit]

Thamnophis elegans is found in southwestern Canada and the western United States, as far east as western Nebraska and the Oklahoma Panhandle. An isolated population occurs in Baja California, Mexico.[8]

Subspecies[edit]

Thamnophis elegans terrestris with dark coloring

Several subspecies or races have been identified, although the validity of some is debated.[2]

  • Thamnophis elegans arizonae Tanner and Lowe, 1989 – Arizona Garter Snake
  • Thamnophis elegans elegans (Baird and Girard, 1853) – Mountain Garter Snake
  • Thamnophis elegans hueyi Van Denburgh and Slevin, 1923 – San-Pedro-Martir Garter Snake
  • Thamnophis elegans terrestris Fox, 1951 – Coast Garter Snake
  • Thamnophis elegans vagrans (Baird and Girard, 1853) – Wandering Garter Snake
  • Thamnophis elegans vascotanneri Tanner and Lowe, 1989 – Upper Basin Garter Snake

Habitat[edit]

Thamnophis elegans occurs in a wide variety of habitats, including grasslands, woodlands, and coniferous forests, from sea level to found of up to 3,962 m (12,999 ft). It is primarily terrestrial, although populations in the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains are semiaquatic.[8]

Reproduction[edit]

The western terrestrial garter snake does not lay eggs, but instead is ovoviviparous, which is characteristic of natricine snakes. Broods of eight to 12 young are born in August and September.[9]

Diet[edit]

The diet of Thamnophis elegans relies heavily on the potential prey available in the environment, and thus varies due geographical differences. This makes the western terrestrial garter snake an excellent example of polymorphism.[10] There are two main variants that are most prevalent: coastal and inland.[11] Since T. elegans is found along the west coast of the United States, a snake native to a coastal habitat would be found near the coast of the Pacific Ocean. On the other hand, if the snake population was considered to be inland, it would be found near water sources such as streams, ponds, or lakes inland rather than being near the coast.

Coastal populations' food sources mainly include terrestrial prey such as slugs, salamanders, small mammals, and lizards. In contrast, inland populations indulge in a semi-aquatic diet containing frog and toad larvae, leeches, and fish.[12] Thus, aquatic food sources are a staple in the inland snake populations’ diet.

Coastal snakes are less likely to respond to chemical cues received from fish, which can be inferred by less rapid tongue-flicking when around them.[11] They are also less likely to attack and ingest the fish. This preference in diet is so strong that the snake will starve before eating non-preferred prey types.[11] Further, this appears to be genetically determined seeing as variation in diet is maintained in newborn snakes from both populations.[10] When hunting, the Western Garter Snake’s actions are chemically and visually mediated on land and in water.[12] Despite the habitat where foraging takes place, both ecotypes utilize similar techniques. This consists of attacks that are both aerial and underwater.[11] These include craning, cruising, and diving. However, coastal snakes are less likely to participate these activities.[11]

These differences in diet and foraging behavior between coastal and inland snake populations suggest that the species has undergone microevolution. Due to dietary and foraging differences between both variants of T. elegans, it can be implied that coastal populations have filled a niche in the environment that allows them to no longer rely on fish as a major food source.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Frost, D.R., Hammerson, G.A. & Hollingsworth, B. (2007). "Thamnophis elegans". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Thamnophis elegans at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 12 December 2014.
  3. ^ Jansen, David W. (1987). The Myonecrotic Effect of Duvernoy's Gland secretion of the snake Thamnophis elegans vagrans. Journal of Herpetology. 21:81-83/
  4. ^ Gomez, H.F.; Davis, M.; Phillips, S.; McKinney, P.; and Brent, J. (1984). Human envenomation from a wandering garter snake. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 23:1119–22
  5. ^ Vest, DK. (1981). Envenomation following the bite of a wandering garter snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans). Clinical Toxicology. 18:573-9.
  6. ^ a b Alan de Queiroz and Rebecca R. Groen. (2001). The inconsistent and inefficient constricting behavior of Colorado Western Terrestrial Garter Snakes, Thamnophis elegans. Journal of Herpetology 35(3):450–460.
  7. ^ Patrick T. Gregory, J. Malcolm Macartney, and Donald H. Rivard. (1980). Small mammal predation and prey handling behavior by the wandering garter snake Thamnophis elegans. Herpetologica 36(1):87–93.
  8. ^ a b Stebbins, Robert C (2003). A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians (3rd ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 377–380. ISBN 0395982723. 
  9. ^ Schmidt, K.P. and D.D. Davis. (1941). Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. G.P. Putnam's Sons. New York. p. 246.
  10. ^ a b Arnold, Stevan J (August 12, 1977). "Polymorphism and Geographic Variation in the Feeding Behavior of the Garter Snake Thamnophis elegans". Science 197 (4304): 676–678. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Burghardt, Gordon M; Drummond, Hugh (1983). "Geographic Variation in the Foraging Behavior of the Garter Snake, Thamophis elegans". Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 12 (1): 43–48. 
  12. ^ a b Whitaker, Jake. "Thamnophis elegans Western Terrestrial Garter Snake". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: The systematic relationships among the subspecies of Thamnophis elegans and between T. elegans and T. couchi need further investigation (Nussbaum et al. 1983).

Tanner and Lowe (1989) examined snakes from a small part of the range of subspecies vagrans and proposed two new subspecies, arizonae from the Little Colorado River basin of Arizona and New Mexico and vascotanneri from the Upper Colorado River basin of Utah; these taxa were distinguished only by coloration characteristics that in fact occur in several other geographic areas within the range of subspecies vagrans (e.g., Colorado, Hammerson 1999). Until a thorough study of variation is completed, these newly described subspecies should be regarded as dubious (Hammerson 1999).

Cytochrome b phylogeny does not match the current subspecific classification of T. elegans (Bronikowski and Arnold 2001). A range-wide assessment of genetic and morphological variation is needed.

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