An adult Western Foxsnake from Woodbury County, Iowa (iNat: 122983842). Image by iNat user Curtis Meyers (drmagnum).
An adult Western Foxsnake from Cass County, Nebraska (iNat: 119786337). Image by iNat user (joanjunkin).
REPTILIA (Reptiles) SQUAMATA (PART) (Snakes) COLUBRIDAE (Harmless Egg-laying Snakes)

Western Foxsnake
Pantherophis ramspotti (Crother, White, Savage, Eckstut, Graham, and Gardner 2011)
păn-thŭr-ō-phĭs — răm-spŏt-ī


Conservation Status:

State: None

Federal: None
NatureServe State: SNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None
Diagnosis:
HARMLESS. The Western Foxsnake grows to 36-60 inches in length. Adults are light gray-white with well defined dark brown/reddish blotches down the back, and slightly lighter intermediately spaces blotches along the sides. The head is copper colored. Young Western Foxsnakes resemble adults, but are usually more brightly marked. Males are larger than females.

Distribution:
Specimens of this species have been collected north of Kansas in Nebraska, and across the Missouri River in northwestern Missouri.
Lokke (1992) reported on a specimen found 26 miles north of the Kansas line in Nebraska. Additionally, he noted that suitable habitat does exist in Doniphan County from Iowa Point, north to the state line. An iNaturalist observation (#51766382) by Tad Smith in southeast Nemaha County, Nebraska on 30 June 2020 was 18.8 miles north of the Kansas state line along the Missouri River.
On 18 May 2006, Travis W. Taggart (per. obs.) observed three specimens AOR along the Missouri River bottoms in Holt County, Missouri, within 1 to 4 miles of White Cloud, Kansas (40.013352°, -95.297895°; 39.984800°, -95.278709°; 39.984323°, -95.265155°).
Eshelman (1974) reported the Western Foxsnake from the pleistocene deposits of Republic County based on five distinctive vertebrae.
Yarrow (1882) lists a specimen (USNM 5070) from "Kansas".
(,   Museum Voucher) (,   Observation) (,   Literature Record) (,   iNat Record), (  Fossil)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details.
Full range depicted by light shaded red area. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 8
    Records 
  • 8
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 0
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Ellis (2); Meade (2); Republic (4);

Fossil History:
Fossils from the Williams Local Fauna of Rice County (Pleistocene: Illinoian) (Preston 1979, Holman 1984; Holman 1995) are assignable to this taxon.
Fossils from the Mount Scott Local Fauna of Meade County (Pleistocene: Illinoian) (Preston 1979, Holman 1987; Holman 1995) are assignable to this taxon.
Fossils from the Butler Spring Local Fauna of Meade County (Pleistocene: Illinoian) (Tihen 1962; Preston 1979; Holman 1995) are assignable to this taxon.

Natural History:
This snake is primarily a prairie species, and is commonly found near plowed fields and pastures. During spring and fall it is diurnal, and become nocturnal during the hottest parts of the summer. The female lays 8 to 27 eggs in appropriated mammal burrows or loose soil in June, they hatch in late August or early September.

Occurrence Activity:
Number of Unique Obervations (=days): 0; Range: 01 Jan to 01 Jan
Remarks:
Smith (1956) and Collins (1974, 1982) included this snake on their "possibly occurring" lists and suggested that it would be discovered in northeastern Kansas.
Anderson (1965) and Johnson (1987) recorded this serpent from along the Missouri River in Andrew, Buchanan, and Holt counties, Missouri, opposite Atchison and Doniphan counties in northeastern Kansas. Hudson (1942) mentioned an old (1891) record for Nemaha County, Nebraska, about 30 miles north of the northeastern Kansas border. Although not mentioned or mapped by Lynch (1985), this old record was substantiated by the discovery of a Western Foxsnake in Nemaha County (Lokke, 1992). This serpent may eventually be found in Doniphan and Atchison counties, Kansas.
Like many other snakes, the Western Foxsnake will rapidly vibrate its tail when disturbed. This snake is harmless.
Cope (1875) reported this species from Kansas as did Hurter (1911).

Bibliography:
1853 Baird, Spencer F. and Charles Girard. Catalogue of North American Reptiles in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Part 1. Serpents. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 2(5):xvi + 172
Contains the original descriptions of Crotalus atrox, Lampropeltis gentilis, Pantherophis emoryi, Rhinocheilus lecontei, Tantilla gracilis, Regina grahamii, Thamnophis elegans, Thamnophis marcianus, Thamnophis radix, and Virginia valeriae.
1875 Cope, Edward D. Check-list of North American Batrachia and Reptilia; with a systematic list of the higher groups, and an essay on geographical distribution. Based on the specimens contained in the U.S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 1():1-104
The first reference to Anaxyrus fowleri (nomen nudum) (not in Kansas). List the following species from Kansas: Carphophiops vermis (= Carphophis vermis); Ophibolus calligaster (= Lampropeltis calligaster); Ophibolus doliatus and Ophibolus doliatus annulatus (= Lampropeltis gentilis/triangulum); Tropidonotus sipedon erythrogaster (= Nerodia erythrogaster); Opheosaurus ventralis (= Ophisaurus attenuatus); Coluber emoryi (= Pantherophis emoryi); Coluber vulpinus (= Pantherophis ramspotti); Pituophis sayi (= Pituophis catenifer); and Tropidoclonion lineatum
1876 Jordan, David Starr. Manual of the Vertebrates of the Northern United States: Including the District East of the Mississippi River, and North of North Carolina and Tennessee, Exclusive of Marine Species. Jansen, McClurg, and Company, Chicago, Illinois.. 342pp.
1878 Jordan, David S. Manual of the Vertebrates of the Northern United States: Including the District East of the Mississippi River, and North of North Carolina and Tennessee, Exclusive of Marine Species. Second Edition, Revised, and Enlarged. Jansen, McClurg & Company, Chicago. pp.
1880 Cragin, Francis W. A preliminary catalogue of Kansas reptiles and batrachians Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 7():112-123
Also listed the Scarlet Snake (Cemophora coccinea) [=Ophibolus doliatus var. coccineus] and Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) [=Spelerpes ruber] from Kansas.
1882 Yarrow, Henry C. Check list of North American Reptilia and Batrachia with catalogue of specimens in U. S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (24):1-249
A summary of all herpetological species known at the time, with reference to specimens in the United States National Museum. Including one three Acris blanchardi from Fort Riley; Agkistrodon contortrix from Fort Riley; three Ambystoma mavortium from "Kansas" and another from Fort Riley; one Anaxyrus woodhousii from "Kansas"; one Anaxyrus cognatus from "Kansas" and another from Fort Riley; one Carphophis vermis from Fort Scott; three Coluber constrictor from "Kansas" and two from Fort Riley; one Crotalus horridus from 1858; one Diadophis punctatus from Hyatt [Hyette sic], Kansas (Anderson County); one Graptemys pseudogeographica from the Republican River in Kansas;   two Heterodon nasicus from Fort Riley; one Lampropeltis calligaster from Neosho Falls; one Lampropeltis holbrooki from Fort Riley, one from "Natchez", Kansas, and one other from Shawnee Mission, Kansas;one Lampropeltis gentilis from Fort Riley and one other from the Republican River, Kansas; one Pantherophis obsoletus from Fort Riley;fourteen Phrynosoma douglassi from "Kansas" and four from Fort Riley; three Phrynosoma cornutum from Fort Riley (Riley County);  three Pituophis catenifer from "Platte Valley", Kansas [likely from eastern Colorado prior to 1861] and two specimens from Fort Riley; one Plestiodon septentrionalis from Neosho Falls (Woodson County); one Plestiodon obsoletus from Fort Riley; one Thamnophis sirtalis from "Kansas"; one Nerodia sipedon from Fort Riley and another from Neosho Falls; one Scincella lateralis from Fort Scott (Bourbon County); one Thamnophis proximus from Fort Riley; four Sceloporus consobrinus from Fort Riley; one Tantilla nigriceps from Fort Riley; four Thamnophis sirtalis from "Kansas" and two from Little Blue River, Kansas; 
1883 Davis, N. S. Jr. and Frank L. Rice. Descriptive catalogue of North American batrachia and reptilia, found east of Mississippi River. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin 1(5):71
1903 Branson, Edwin B. Snakes of Kansas Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 41pp.
Describes all snake species reported from Kansas, considering doubtful those species that the author has not encountered himself. This list contains twenty-nine valid species. Collections examined included State University (KU), State House, Washburn College (WU), Ottawa University, State Normal School (ESU), State Agricultural College (KSU), and several high schools in Kansas. Examined the material available to Mozley (1878) and determined that of the thirty-three species listed, only twenty-three species were valid currently. And that Cragin's (1880) list of thirty-two species included eight specimens on the authority of Mozley that this author could not verify in any collection.
1904 Branson, Edwin B. Snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 2(13):353-430
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1929 Taylor, Edward H. A revised checklist of the snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 19(5):53-62
1938 Schmidt, Karl P. Herpetological evidence for the postglacial eastward extension of the steppe in North America. Ecology 19(3):396-407
1950 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication (2):336
The first modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table and text say 97 on p. 10) and 13 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies.
1956 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. Second edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication (9):1-356
Hobart M. Smith's updated second edition of his first (1950) modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table says 97 on p. 10; text says 98 on p. 10) and 11 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies. The second edition has updated taxonomy, added Plestiodon laticeps, and removed Eurycea tynerensis.
1974 Eshelman, Ralph E. Geology and paleontology of the early Pleistocene Belleville Formation of north central Kansas. Dissertation. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 137pp.
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
Joseph T. Collins first Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Smith 1956)>
1974 Holman, J. Alan. A late Pleistocene herpetofauna from southwestern Missouri. Journal of Herpetology 8(4):343-346
Figure 1 is a range map of Pantherophis ramspotti that has a portion of northeast kansas shaded. 
1975 Eshelman, Ralph E. Geology and paleontology of the early Pleistocene (late Blancan) White Rock fauna from northcentral Kansas. University of Michigan Museum of Palenontology, Papers on Paleontology. (13):60
1975 Thomas, Richard A. Taxonomic chaos: Elaphe guttata (Linnaeus), a case in point. Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 11(4):171-176
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. 2nd edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (8):
Joseph T. Collins second Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1974)>
1984 Holman, J. Alan. Herpetofaunas of the Duck Creek and Williams Local Faunas (Pleistocene: Illinoian) of Kansas. Pages 20-38 in Contributions in Quaternary Vertebrate Paleontology: A Volume in Memorial to John E. Guilday. Special Publication Number 8. Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. pp.
1985 Lynch, John D. Annotated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Nebraska. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Science 13():33-57
1986 Holman, J. Alan. Butler Spring herpetofauna of Kansas (Pleistocene: Illinoian) and its climatic significance. Journal of Herpetology 20(4):568-569
1987 Coleman, Keith. Annual KHS Field Trip held at Atchison State Lake. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (68):5-6
1987 Holman, J. Alan. Climatic significance of a late Illinoian herpetofauna from southwestern Kansas. Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan 27(5):129-141
Anura - Bufo sp., ?Acris sp., Rana pipiens complex
Testudines - Sternotherus odoratus (Latreille), Chelydra serpentina (Linnaeus), Chrysemys picta (Schneider), Emydoidea blandingii (Holbrook), *Pseudemys hibbardi (Preston), Pseudemys scripta (Schoepff), Terrapene carolina (Linnaeus), Trionyx sp.
Squamata - Ophisaurus attenuatus Baird, Heterodon sp., Diadophis punctatus (Linnaeus), Coluber cf. C. constrictor Linnaeus, Elaphe vulpina (Baird and Girard), Lampropeltis getulus (Linnaeus), Pituophis melanoleucus (Daudin), Nerodia sipedon (Linnaeus), Regina grahami Baird and Girard, Storeria cf. S. dekayi, Thamnophis proximus (Say), Thamnophis radix (Baird and Girard), and Crotalinae indet were recovered.
1990 Powell, Robert. Elaphe vulpina. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (470):1-3
1991 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1992 Ford, Kenneth M. III. Herpetofauna of the Albert Ahrens Local Fauna (Pleistocene: Irvingtonian), Nebraska. Thesis. Michigan State University, Lansing, Michigan. 44pp.
1992 Lokke, John L. Some thoughts on the status of the Western Fox Snake (Elaphe vulpina) in southeast Nebraska, southwest Iowa, northwest Missouri, and northeast Kansas Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (89):14-16
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
Joseph T. Collins third Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1982)>
1995 Holman, J. Alan. Pleistocene Amphibians and Reptiles. Oxford University Press, New York. 243pp.
1995 Bartlett, R. The captivating North American rat snakes. Reptiles 3(6):56-75
1995 Parmley, Dennis and J. Alan Holman. Hemphillian (Late Miocene) snakes from Nebraska, with comments on Arikareean through Blancan Snakes of midcontinental North America. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 15(1):79-95
1996 Schultz, K. D. A Monograph of the Colubrid Snakes of the Genus Elaphe Fitzinger. Koeltz Scientific Books, Havlickuv Brod, Czech Republic. pp.
1998 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1998 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 131pp.
1998 Parmley, Dennis and Donald Walker. Elaphe vulpina (Colubridae) from the Blancan of Washington, with a review of the species' paleodistribution . Herpetological Natural History 6(1):41-46
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2010 Fogell, Daniel D. A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Nebraska University of Nebraska, Lincoln. pp.
2010 Ballinger, Royce E., John D. Lynch, and Geoffrey R. Smith. Amphibians and Reptiles of Nebraska Rusty Lizard Press, Oro Valley, Arizona. 400pp.
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
Joseph T. Collins fourth Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1993)>
2011 Crother, Brian I., Mary E. White, Jay M. Savage, Mallory E. Eckstut, Matthew R. Graham and David W. Gardner. Reevaluation of the Status of the Foxsnakes Pantherophis gloydi Conant and P. vulpinus Baird and Girard (Lepidosauria). ISRN Zoology 2011(Article ID 436049):15
2012 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada: Second Edition, Revised and Updated. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 152pp.
2012 LeClere, Jeffrey B., Erica P. Hoaglund, Jim Scharosch, Christopher E. Smith, Tony Gamble. Two naturally occurring intergeneric hybrid snakes (Pituophis catenifer sayi × Pantherophis vulpinus; Lampropeltini, Squamata) from the midwestern United States Journal of Herpetology 46(2):257-262
2012 Shew, Justin J. , Brian D. Greene , and Francis E. Durbian. Spatial ecology and habitat use of the Western Foxsnake (Pantherophis vulpinus) on Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge (Missouri). Journal of Herpetology 46(4):539-548
2016 Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. 494pp.
2017 Crother, Brian I. (editor) Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding. Eighth edition. Herpetological Circulars (43):1-102
2019 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada. Third Edition. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 192pp.
2020 Daniel, Richard E. and Brian S. Edmond. Atlas of Missouri Amphibians and Reptiles for 2019. Privately printed, Columbia, Missouri. 86pp.
2021 Burbrink, Frank and Sara Ruane. Contemporary philosophy and methods for studying speciation and delimiting species. Ichthyology & Herpetology 109(3):874-894
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Travis W. Taggart © 1999-2024 — w/ Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University