An adult Terrestrial Gartersnake from El Paso County, Colorado (iNat: 134350253). Image by iNat user Joshua Smith (joshuagsmith).
An adult Terrestrial Gartersnake from Piute County, Utah (iNat: 135831838). Image by iNat user Luke Alder (luke_alder).
REPTILIA (Reptiles) SQUAMATA (PART) (Snakes) NATRICIDAE (Harmless Egg-Retaining Snakes)

Terrestrial Gartersnake
Thamnophis elegans (Baird & Girard 1853)
thăm-nō-fĭs — ĕl-ē-găns


Conservation Status:

State: None

Federal: None
NatureServe State: SNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None
Diagnosis:
HARMLESS. They may be gray, brown, or orange-brown with a single cream colored dorsal stripe. Often, there are two additional thin light stripes on the 2nd and 3rd scale rows (counting up from the belly) along the lower sides. Specimens may occasionally have very diminished stripes or lack them entirely. A checkerboard of dark blotches fill the areas between the stripes, and often intrude upon them. The belly is light gray or cream, and may occasionally be flecked with orange or browne. The dorsal scales are keeled and the pupils are round. They may grow up to 900 mm or 36" in total length .

Distribution:
This snake is documented within 40 miles of Kansas, in both northwestern Oklahoma and southeastern Colorado. It may be documented during survey efforts in Morton, Stanton, and Hamilton counties.
(,   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:  
  • 0
    Records 
  • 0
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 0
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):


Natural History:


Occurrence Activity:
Number of Unique Obervations (=days): 0; Range: 01 Jan to 01 Jan
Remarks:

Smith (1956) and Collins (1974, 1982) suggested that this snake might be discovered in extreme western Kansas. The closest documented records are those of Webb (1970) from Cimarron County, Oklahoma, which adjoins the southwestern corner of Kansas, and of Hammerson (1982) from the Arkansas River drainage in Baca County, Colorado, which adjoins Morton County in extreme southwestern Kansas. The latter record is about 30 miles west of Kansas. Collins and Collins (1991) did not record this species from Morton County, but it may yet be discovered there around aquatic situations in the Cimarron National Grasslands or Sand Arroyo Creek in Stanton County.


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.
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
1929 Taylor, Edward H. A revised checklist of the snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 19(5):53-62
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 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)>
1984 Secor, Stephen M. and Charles C. Carpenter. Distribution maps of Oklahoma reptiles. Oklahoma Herpetological Society Special Publication (3):1-57
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.
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)>
1996 Rossman, Douglas A., Neil B. Ford, and Ricahrd A. Seigel. The Garter Snakes: Evolution and Ecology. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 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.
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 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)>
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.
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.
2021 Hallas, Joshua M., Thomas L. Parchman, and Chris R. Feldman The influence of history, geography and environment on patterns of diversification in the Western Terrestrial Garter Snake. Journal of Biogeography 48(9):1-20
2022 Hallas, Joshua M., Thomas L. Parchman, and Chris R. Feldman. Phylogenomic analyses resolve relationships among garter snakes (Thamnophis: Natricinae: Colubridae) and elucidate biogeographic history and morphological evolution. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 167():13
Utilized a genome-wide high-throughput sequencing data and near-complete taxon sampling to estimate a robust phylogeny for Thamnophis.
2023 Nunez, Leroy, Levi N Gray, David Weisrock, and Frank T Burbrink. The phylogenomic and biogeographic history of the Gartersnakes, Watersnakes, and Allies (Natricidae: Thamnophiini). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 186(5:107844):12
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Travis W. Taggart © 1999-2024 — w/ Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University