FLAT-HEADED SNAKE
Tantilla gracilis Baird & Girard 1853
tăn-tĭl-ă — gră-sĭl-ŭs


Conservation Status:

State: None

Federal: None
NatureServe State: S4 - Apparently Secure
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None

An adult Flat-headed Snake from Crawford County, Kansas. © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult from Cherokee County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult from Waubaunsee County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.

Description:
HARMLESSLY VENOMOUS. Uses its venom to subdue prey, but is not dangerous to humans because a) they have an ineffective venom delivery mechanism, b) their mouths too small to gain purchase, and c) their venom is not adapted for causing physiological damage to mammals.
Scales smooth. Head slightly darker than the body. Body overall light gray tan to brown to reddish-brown with a salmon-pink belly. Six scales on each upper lip. Young same as adults. Diminutive (up to 20 cm TL) plain tan or yellow-brown snake with a pointed head. Belly bright salmon or orange in the middle, becoming white toward the sides. Flattened head; minute eyes; back scales smooth and in 15 rows; anal plate divided.
Adults normally grow 180-203 mm (7- 8 inches) in TL; largest specimen from Kansas: female (KU 83480) from Cowley County with TL of 244 mm (9 5/8 inches) collected by Charles E. Burt between 1938 and 1941; maximum length throughout range: 9 7/8 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).


Distribution:
Generally found east of the Flint Hills and south of the Drift Hills.
(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 1,133
    Records 
  • 1,095
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 38
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (5); Anderson (77); Atchison (3); Bourbon (20); Butler (4); Chase (65); Chautauqua (37); Cherokee (88); Clark (1); Cowley (521); Crawford (10); Douglas (60); Elk (10); Geary (5); Greenwood (24); Jefferson (10); Johnson (25); Labette (3); Leavenworth (15); Lyon (2); Montgomery (19); Neosho (9); Pottawatomie (30); Riley (59); Sumner (1); Wabaunsee (2); Wilson (27); Woodson (1);

Natural History:
Found in varying habitats, from wooded hillsides to prairie rock outcrops, and rural areas to city parks, but always under such as flat rocks, boards and sheet metal. Very secretive; rarely seen in the open. Never bites. Eats small invertebrates such as centipedes and spiders and probably insects and their larvae.
Mates in April and May and deposits 2-4 eggs in moist soil or under rocks during June. Young hatch in September at 7-0 cm TL.

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.
Observation Type: (of recorded types)
Remarks:
First reported in Kansas by Hallowell (1856). The earliest existing specimen is from 1909 (KU 1794).
Specimens are conspicuously absent from much of the Neosho River drainage basin. A distributional phenomenon exhibited by several additional taxa.
Two small, grooved rear fangs and small venom glands are apparently used in subduing prey, but the snake is no threat to human beings and does not bite when handled.

Bibliography:
1857 Hallowell, Edward. Notice of a collection of reptiles from Kansas and Nebraska presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences, by Doctor Hammond, U. S. A. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 8():238-253
1860 Cope, Edward D. Catalogue of Colubrdae in the Museum of  the Academy of Natural Sciences of Pailadelphia [sic]. I. Calamarinae. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 12():74-79
1883 Garman, Samuel. The reptiles and batrachians of North America.  Kentucky Geological Survey. Yeoman Press., Frankfort, Kentucky. 185pp.
1883 Garman, Samuel. The reptiles and batrachians of North America. Memiors of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University 8(3):xxxi + 1-185
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
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
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 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
1936 Taylor, Edward H. Notes and comments on certain American and Mexican snakes of the genus Tantilla with descriptions of new species. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 39():335-348
1950 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication (2):336
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1956 Smith, Philip W. Extension of known range of the flat-headed snake. Herpetologica 12():327
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
1974 Karns, Daryl, Ray E. Ashton, Jr., and Thomas Swearingen. Illustrated Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas: An Identification Manual. University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History Public Education Series(2):viii + 18
1975 Perry, Janice. A trip to southeastern Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (7):4
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.
1976 Rundquist, Eric M. Field checklist (of) amphibians and reptiles of Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society, Lawrence. pp.
1977 Van Devender, Robert Wayne, and Charles J. Cole. Notes on a colubrid snake, Tantilla vermiformis, from Central America . American Museum Novitates (2625):1-12
1978 Capron, Marty. Four county collecting raid: A south central Kansas herping saga. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (26):9-12
1978 Capron, Marty. Notes on the possible occurrence of Broadbanded Copperheads in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (26):4-6
1978 Curl, Richard L. Final Environmental Statement: Milford Lake Kansas operation and maintenance. US Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District. 158pp.
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. 2nd edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (8):
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Report to the Kansas Fish and Game Commission on the status of three amphibians in southeastern Kansas. Kansas Fish and Game Commission, Pratt. 57pp.
1982 Fitch, Henry S. Resources of a snake community in prairie-woodland habitat of northeastern Kansas. Pages 83-97 in Herpetological communities: A symposium of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the Herpetologists League, August 1977.  Wildlife Research Reports 12. 239 pp. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D. C. pp.
1982 Wilson, Larry David. Tantilla. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (307):1-4
1983 Collins, Joseph T. New records of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles in Kansas for 1982 . Technical Publication of the State Biological Survey of Kansas 13():9-21
1983 Fraser, John C. A trip to the 'TransPecos'. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (54):18-23
1983 Miller, Larry L. Bourbon County field trip well attended and successful. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (54):6-7
1989 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1989. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (78):16-21
1990 Collins, Joseph T. Maximum size records for Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (81):13-17
1990 Collins, Joseph T. Results of second Kansas herp count held during April-May 1990. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (81):10-12
1991 Collins, Joseph T. Results of third Kansas herp count held during April-May 1991. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (85):9-13
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.
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1992 Collins, Joseph T. Results of the fourth Kansas herp count held during April-May 1992. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (89):10-
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the fifth Kansas herp count held during April-June 1993 . Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (94):7-11
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
1994 Riedle, J. Daren. Distribution of the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) in Chautauqua, Elk, and Montgomery counties, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (95):43051
1994 Rundquist, Eric M. Additions and corrections [to the results of the sixth annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1994]. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (98):4
1994 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the sixth annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1994. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (97):5-14
1995 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1994. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (100):24-47
1995 Rundquist, Eric M. Additional KHS herp counts for 1995. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (102):11-
1995 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the seventh annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1995. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (101):11-17
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 Rakestraw, J. Spring herp counts: A Kansas tradition. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (March-April):75-80
1996 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the eighth annual KHS herp counts Held 1 April-31 May 1996. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (104):6-17
1997 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the ninth annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1997. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (108):12-17
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 Gamble, Jerre Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hartford, Kansas. 91pp.
1998 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the tenth annual KHS herp counts for 1998, held 1 April-31 May. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (112):11-18
1999 Rundquist, Eric M. Kansas Herpetological Society herp counts: A 10 year summary and evaluation. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (115):42962
2000 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the eleventh and twelfth annual KHS herpetofaunal counts for 1999-2000, held 1 April-31 May. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):11-16
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2001 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the thirteenth annual KHS herp counts for 2001, held 1 April-30 June. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (125):13-16
2002 Kingsbury, Bruce and Joanna Gibson. Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Midwest. Publication of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Address not given. 152pp.
2003 Suleiman, G. Fort Riley herpetofaunal count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (5):11-12
2003 Taggart, Travis W. KHS conducts first systematic road survey. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (6):11-12
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2003 KHS spring field trip to Wilson County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (6):2-5
2003 Volkmann, Al. Cowley County herp count 1. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (7):7
2004 Volkmann, Al. Cowley County herp count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (11):10
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 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2008 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (25):2-3
2009 Murrow, Daniel G. KHS 2009 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (29):42769
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
2010 Murrow, Daniel G. Kansas Herpetological Society spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (33):2-3
2011 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS Spring Field Trip to Chautauqua County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (38):2-4
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2013 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2012 Spring Field Trip to Bourbon County State Lake. Collinsorum 2(3/4):3
2013 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2013 Spring Field Trip to Schermerhorn Park, Cherokee County. Collinsorum 2(3/4):4
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Recent scientific and standard English name changes effecting the Kansas herpetofauna. Collinsorum 3(2-4):9-10
2015 Wilson, Larry D. and Vicente Mata-Silva. A checklist and key to the snakes of the Tantilla clade (Squamata: Colubridae), with comments on taxonomy, distribution, and conservation Mesoamerican Herpetology 2(4):418-498
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
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.
2016 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS Summer field trip to Caney River, Chautauqua County, Kansas. Collinsorum 5(2-3):4-5
2017 Mardis, Dexter R. Results from three Herpetofaunal tallies at Wichita State University’s Youngmeyer Ranch in Northwestern Elk County. Collinsorum 6(1):8-10
2017 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2017 KHS Spring Field Trip to Elk County, Kansas. Collinsorum 6(2-3):6-8
2018 Cox, Christian L., Joel F. Stringer, Matthew a. Moseley, Paul T. Chippindale, and Jeffery W. Streicher. Testing the geographical dimensions of genetic diversity following range expansion in a North American snake. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 2018(125):586–599
2020 Riedle, J. Daren. Revisiting Kansas Herpetological Society field trip and Herp Count data: Distributional patterns and trend data of Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Collinsorum 9(1):7-16
Account Last Updated:
7/29/2020 1:36:27 PM