WESTERN RIBBONSNAKE
Thamnophis proximus
(Say 1823)


thăm-nō-fĭs — prŏx-ĭ-mŭs




An adult Western Ribbonsnake from Comanche County. © Maci Loughrea.
Adult from Wilson County. Image by Travis W. Taggart
An adult from Jackson County. Image © Nick Gomez.
An adult from Meade County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult from Ness County. Image © Andrew Hare.

Description:
Harmless. Scales keeled. A slender striped snake, with a yellow or orange stripe down the center of back and two, yellowish-cream colored stripes on the sides. These light stripes are separated by two wide, black areas along the back. Head is dark with two small light spots on the top. The belly is cream colored or very pale green. Young patterned like adults.
Medium-sized (up to 90 cm TL), slender black snake with an orange (rarely red) middorsal stripe and yellow or greenish stripes on each side. Belly greenish white. Tail about one-third of body length. Paired spots on top of head relatively large and partially fused. Usually 8 supralabial scales.
Adults normally attain 510- 760 mm (20-30 inches) in TL; largest specimen from Kansas: female (MHP 7243) from Edwards County with TL of 1,013 mm (39½ inches) collected by James Gubanyi and Keith Coleman on 2 June 2002; maximum length throughout range: 49 7/8 inches (Boundy, 1995).

Distribution:
Widespread in the eastern third of the state south of the Kansas River and largely confined to riparian corridors west of the Flint Hills.
Border vegetation around permanent bodies of water (swamps, marshes, ponds, rivers, ditches) and along bases of nearby rock outcrops where some individuals hibernate. Climbs onto piles of plants and low bushes.
Burt (1935) reported they are most abundant in extensive marshy areas that are filled with aquatic vegetation, such as reeds and cat-tails. They are often found in the reeds and grasses near shallow, meandering prairie streams as well, especially in the vicinity of those with sandy and gravelly bottoms.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 426 Total Records 
  • 386 Museum Vouchers 
  • 40 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (7); Anderson (4); Atchison (1); Barber (18); Bourbon (2); Butler (1); Chase (12); Chautauqua (2); Cherokee (34); Clark (9); Coffey (3); Comanche (14); Cowley (1); Crawford (15); Doniphan (4); Douglas (20); Edwards (27); Elk (4); Ellis (25); Ellsworth (2); Franklin (34); Gove (1); Graham (4); Greenwood (5); Hamilton (1); Harper (9); Jackson (1); Johnson (1); Kearney (3); Kingman (3); Kiowa (5); Labette (3); Leavenworth (1); Linn (1); Logan (1); Lyon (4); McPherson (1); Meade (35); Miami (11); Mitchell (1); Montgomery (2); Morris (3); Neosho (11); Ness (1); Osage (4); Osborne (1); Ottawa (1); Pawnee (1); Pratt (4); Reno (1); Riley (2); Rooks (1); Rush (1); Russell (7); Saline (3); Scott (6); Sedgwick (1); Seward (3); Shawnee (1); Sheridan (17); Stafford (4); Sumner (2); Trego (4); Unknown (3); Wabaunsee (2); Wallace (1); Washington (1); Wilson (1); Woodson (5); Wyandotte (2);

Natural History:
Prefers to live near the edges of wetland habitats such as swamps, sloughs, marshes and oxbow lakes, but is also found along streams. Active March-October and breeds April-May. Gives live birth to an average of 12 young in AugustSeptember. Eats small frogs and fish.
They breed in the spring and the young are born alive in late summer or autumn. There may be 10-30 or more in a litter, the average is 12. The young are identical to the adults and are 5-8 inches in length.

Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
Remarks:
In regions with extensive upland grasslands in the western two-thirds of the state, this taxon can be found well away from streams and ponds.

Bibliography:
1877 Mozley, Annie E List of Kansas snakes in the museum of the Kansas State Univeristy Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 6():34-35
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
1884 Garman, Samuel. The North American reptiles and batrachians. Bulletin of the Essex Institute 16():1-46
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Recent additions to the list of Kansas reptiles and batrachians, with further notes on species previously reported. Bulletin of the Washburn College Laboratory of Natural History 1(3):100-103
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Second contribution to the herpetology of Kansas, with observations on the Kansas fauna. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 9():136-140
1904 Branson, Edwin B. Snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 2(13):353-430
1908 Ruthven, Alexander G. Variations and genetic relationships of the garter-snakes. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (61):1-201
1925 Linsdale, Jean M. Land Vertebrates of a Limited Area in Eastern Kansas. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 312pp.
1927 Linsdale, Jean M. Amphibians and reptiles of Doniphan County, Kansas. Copeia 1927(164):75-81
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1929 Taylor, Edward H. A revised checklist of the snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 19(5):53-62
1932 Gloyd, Howard K. The herpetological fauna of the Pigeon Lake Region, Miami County, Kansas. Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 15():389-408
1934 Brennan, Lawrence A. A check list of the amphibians and reptiles of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():189-191
1934 Burt, Charles E. and W. L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1935 Brennan, Lawrence A. Notes on the Distribution of Amphibia and Reptilia of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 114pp.
1935 Burt, Charles E. Further records of the ecology and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the middle west. American Midland Naturalist 16(3):311-366
1935 Burt, Charles E. and William L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1937 Brennan, Lawrence A. A study of the habitat of reptiles and amphibians of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 40():341-347
1937 Grant, Chapman. Herpetological notes from Central Kansas. American Midland Naturalist 18(3):370-372
1944 Marr, John C. Notes on amphibians and reptiles from the central United States. American Midland Naturalist 32(2):478-490
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1962 Gish, Charles D. The Herpetofauna of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 34pp.
1962 Rossman, Douglas A. Thamnophis proximus (Say), a valid species of garter snake. Copeia 1962(4):741-748
1963 Rossman, Douglas A. The colubrid snake genus Thamnophis: A revision of the sauritus group. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences 7(3):99-178
1970 Rossman, Douglas A. Thamnophis proximus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (98):1-3
1976 Caldwell, Janalee P. and Gregory. Glass. Vertebrates of the Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Pages 62-76 in Preliminary inventory of the biota of Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Report No. 5. State Biological Survey of Kansas, Lawrence. pp.
1980 Clarke, Robert F. Herptiles and fishes of the western Arkansas River in Kansas. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 55pp.
1986 Terry, P. A. Biological survey of the KS segments of Spring River and Shoal Creek. Part 1. Field Survey. Draft. Kansas Fish and Game, Pratt, Kansas. 67pp.
1996 Miller, Larry L. Many amphibian and reptile species identified during KHS 1996 fall field trip to Wabaunsee County. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (106):2-3
1996 Rossman, Douglas A., Neil B. Ford, and Ricahrd A. Seigel. The Garter Snakes: Evolution and Ecology. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. pp.
1999 Taggart, Travis W. Cherokee County fall 1999 herp count. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (117):6
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Biogeographic analysis of the reptiles (Squamata) in Ellis County, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (121):7-16
2000 Taggart, Travis W. KHS spring field trip sets record for attendance. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (120):5-5
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2001 Taggart, Travis W. The KHS 2001 spring field trip: A rainy rendezvous. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):12-14
2002 Gubanyi, James E. and Keith Coleman. Size maxima: Thamnophis proximus. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):14
2002 Miller, Larry L. Sumner County herp count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Riedle, J. Daren and A. Hynek. Amphibian and reptile inventory of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Labette County, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):18-20
2003 Freeman, Craig C. A natural areas inventory of the Ft. Leavenworth Military Reservation, Leavenworth County, Kansas. II. Open-file Report No. 117. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence, Kansas. 199pp.
2003 Gubanyi, James E. Western Ribbon Snake reproduction. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (7):12
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2003 fall field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (8):14-15
2004 Delisle, Jennifer M. and William H. Busby Biological inventory for vertebrates at Fort Larned National Historic Site of the southern plains network. Natural Heritage Inventory, Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 61pp.
2005 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2005 fall field trip [to Crawford County]. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (16):19-21
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.
2008 Gomez, Nicholas J. Geographic distribution. Thamnophis proximus (Western Ribbon Snake). Journal of Kansas Herpetology (26):6
2010 Miller, Larry L. 2010 Investigation of the Checkered Garter Snake in Kansas with notes on other Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles encountered. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 31pp.
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
Account Last Updated:
8/10/2018 2:55:14 PM


Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University