WESTERN RIBBONSNAKE
Thamnophis proximus (Say 1823)
thăm-nō-fĭs — prŏx-ĭ-mŭs


Conservation Status:

State: None

Federal: None
NatureServe State: S5 - Secure
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None

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

Description:
Harmless. Scales keeled. A slender striped snake, with a yellow (near the head) changing to orange (usually) to all-yellow stripe down the center of back and two, yellowish to light-green to cream-colored stripes on the sides. In some local populations in Seward, Meade, Comanche, Barber, and Kingman counties a significant portion of the specimens will have a dorsal stripe that is yellow/orange near the head and then turning to bright red to the tip of the tail.
The lateral stripes are separated by two rows of a poorly-defined alternating checkerboard pattern. In some specimens, the area between the lateral and dorsal stripes may be so dark that the checkerboard pattern is not discernable. There is a distinctive vertical white bar directly in front of each eye and the white labial scales are not barred. The belly is cream-colored or pale green. The young are patterned like adults.
There is pair of light spots on top of the head along the suture of the parietal scales.
Medium-sized (up to 90 cm TL), slender black snake with an orange (rarely red [relegated to populations in Meade and Seward counties]) mid-dorsal stripe and yellow or greenish stripes on each side. Belly greenish-white. Tail about one-third of body length. Paired spots on top of the 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 (FHSM 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 the 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 the base 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)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 433
    Records 
  • 390
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 43
    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 (22); Barton (1); 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 (12); 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 (5); 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.
Observation Type: (of recorded types)
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 University. 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
1950 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication (2):336
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
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
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 Grow, David. The KHS goes to Chetopa. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (13):2-3
1976 Miller, Larry L. KHS visits Elk County. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (15):1-2
1976 Rundquist, Eric M. Field checklist (of) amphibians and reptiles of Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society, Lawrence. pp.
1977 Perry, Janice. KHS members achieve goal: Get Cottonmouth. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (21):3-4
1978 Curl, Richard L. Final Environmental Statement: Milford Lake Kansas operation and maintenance. US Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District. 158pp.
1978 Perry, Janice. KHS successful at Miami County State Lake. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (27):5
1979 Gray, Peter and Eddie Stegall. A field trip to the Red Hills. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (29):6-8
1980 Clarke, Robert F. Herptiles and fishes of the western Arkansas River in Kansas. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 55pp.
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. 2nd edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (8):
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 Simmons, John E. Fan fare. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (54):16-18
1984 Collins, Joseph T. New records of fishes, amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1984. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (58):14-20
1984 Collins, Joseph T. New records of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles in Kansas for 1983. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (56):15-26
1986 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1985. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (63):4
1986 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1986. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (66):9-16
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.
1988 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1987. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (71):13-19
1988 Miller, Larry L. Harper County KHS field trip well attended. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (72):5-6
1989 Collins, Joseph T. First Kansas herp counts held in 1989. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (77):11-
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. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1990. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (83):7-13
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.
1992 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1991. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (87):12-17
1992 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the KHS 1992 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (90):4
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
1994 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1993. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (97):15-19
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 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 Miller, Larry L. Results of the KHS 1995 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (103):3
1996 Rakestraw, J. Spring herp counts: A Kansas tradition. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (March-April):75-80
1996 Rossman, Douglas A., Neil B. Ford, and Ricahrd A. Seigel. The Garter Snakes: Evolution and Ecology. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. pp.
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 Collins, Joseph T. A report on the KHS fall field trip to the Marais des Cygnes wildlife refuges. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (110):2-3
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
1999 Taggart, Travis W. Cherokee County fall 1999 herp count. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (117):6
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. 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 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
2001 Taggart, Travis W. The KHS 2001 spring field trip: A rainy rendezvous. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):12-14
2002 Ellis, Mark R. Fall 2002 KHS field trip to Washington County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):4-5
2002 Gubanyi, James E. and Keith Coleman. Size maxima: Thamnophis proximus. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):14
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.
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 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 2002. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (5):13-16
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 Suleiman, G. Fort Riley herpetofaunal count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (5):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 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2003 fall field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (8):14-15
2003 Volkmann, Al. Cowley County herp count 1. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (7):7
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.
2004 Murrow, Daniel G. Geographic distribution. Thamnophis proximus. Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (11):14
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 Gomez, Nicholas J. Geographic distribution. Thamnophis proximus (Western Ribbon Snake). Journal of Kansas Herpetology (26):6
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 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.
2010 Murrow, Daniel G. Kansas Herpetological Society spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (33):2-3
2011 Taggart, Travis W. Kansas Herpetological Society 2011 spring field trip to beheld in Chautauqua County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (37):5-7
2011 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the Kansas Herpetological Society 2011 Summer Field Trip to Scott State Park Journal of Kansas Herpetology (39):2
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 Mardis, Dexter and Kevin Scott. 2013 Kansas Herpetofaunal Counts. Collinsorum 2(3/4):7
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 McMartin, D. Chris. Fort Leavenworth Heretofaunal Survey for 2013. Collinsorum 3(1):10
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Recent scientific and standard English name changes effecting the Kansas herpetofauna. Collinsorum 3(2-4):9-10
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2014 KHS Fall Field Trip to Woodson County. Collinsorum 3(2-4):12
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2014 KHS Spring Field Trip to Barber County Collinsorum 3(2-4):11
2015 Taggart, Travis W. Spring Field Trip to the Greenhorn Limestone of Russell County. Collinsorum 4(3):2
2015 Taggart, Travis W. Summer Field Trip In The Harvey County Sandhills. Collinsorum 4(3):3
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 ‘Fall’ field trip to Barber County. Collinsorum 5(2-3):6-7
2016 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS Summer field trip to Caney River, Chautauqua County, Kansas. Collinsorum 5(2-3):4-5
2016 Taggart, Travis W. Spring 2016 KHS field trip to Clark County was a soggy success. Collinsorum 5(2-3):2-3
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
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:
7/28/2020 6:18:42 PM