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Reptile and Amphibian Encyclopedia > Snakes > Garter & Ribbon Snakes

Garter & Ribbon Snakes

A garter snake is any species of North American snake within the genus Thamnophis. Because of the similarity in the sound of the words, combined with where people often see them, they are sometimes called garden snakes, gardner snakes or gardener snakes, or even garder snakes or guarder snakes. They are harmless to humans. Garter snakes are common across North America, from Canada to Central America, and they are the single most widely distributed genus of reptile in North America. In fact, the common garter snake, T. sirtalis, is the only species of snake to be found in Alaska, and is one of the northernmost species of snake in the world, possibly second only to the Crossed Viper, Vipera berus. The genus is so far ranging due to its unparticular diet and adaptability to different biomes and landforms, from marshes to hillsides to drainage ditches and even vacant lots, in both dry and wet regions, with varying proximity to water and rivers. However, in the western part of North America, these snakes are more water loving than in the eastern portion. Northern populations hibernate in larger groups than southern ones.

  • Longnose Garter Snake - Thamnophis angustirostris (Kennicott, 1860)
  • Aquatic Garter Snake - Thamnophis atratus
    • Santa Cruz Garter Snake - Thamnophis atratus atratus (Kennicott, 1860)
    • Oregon Garter Snake - Thamnophis atratus hydrophilus (Fitch, 1936)
    • Diablo Range Garter Snake - Thamnophis atratus zaxanthus (Boundy, 1999)
  • Shorthead Garter Snake - Thamnophis brachystoma (Cope, 1892)
  • Butler's Garter Snake - Thamnophis butleri (Cope, 1889)
  • Goldenhead Garter Snake - Thamnophis chrysocephalus (Cope, 1885)
  • Western Aquatic Garter Snake - Thamnophis couchii (Kennicott, 1859)
  • Blackneck Garter Snake - Thamnophis cyrtopsis
    • Western Blackneck Garter Snake - Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis (Kennicott, 1860)
    • Eastern Blackneck Garter Snake - Thamnophis cyrtopsis ocellatus (Cope, 1880)
    • Tropical Blackneck Garter Snake - Thamnophis cyrtopsis collaris (Jan, 1863)
    • Tepalcatepec Valley Garter Snake - Thamnophis cyrtopsis postremus (Smith, 1942)
    • Yellow-throated Garter Snake - Thamnophis cyrtopsis pulchrilatus (Cope, 1885)
  • Western Terrestrial Garter Snake, - Thamnophis elegans
    • Arizona Garter Snake - Thamnophis elegans arizonae (Tanner & Lowe, 1989)
    • Mountain Garter Snake - Thamnophis elegans elegans (Baird & Girard, 1853)
    • Mexican Wandering Garter Snake - Thamnophis elegans errans (Smith, 1942)
    • Coast Garter Snake - Thamnophis elegans terrestris (Fox, 1951)
    • Wandering Garter Snake - Thamnophis elegans vagrans (Baird & Girard, 1853)
    • Upper Basin Garter Snake - Thamnophis elegans vascotanneri (Tanner & Lowe, 1989)
    • Sierra San Pedro Mártir Garter Snake - Thamnophis elegans hueyi (Van Denburgh & Slevin, 1923)
  • Thamnophis eques
    • Mexican Garter Snake - Thamnophis eques eques (Reuss, 1834)
    • Laguna Totolcingo Garter Snake - Thamnophis eques carmenensis (Conant, 2003)
    • Thamnophis eques cuitzeoensis (Conant, 2003)
    • Thamnophis eques diluvialis (Conant, 2003)
    • Thamnophis eques insperatus (Conant, 2003)
    • Northern Mexican Garter Snake - Thamnophis eques megalops (Kennicott, 1860)
    • Thamnophis eques obscurus (Conant, 2003)
    • Thamnophis eques patzcuaroensis (Conant, 2003)
    • Thamnophis eques scotti (Conant, 2003)
    • Thamnophis eques virgatenuis (Conant, 1963)
  • Montane Garter Snake - Thamnophis exsul (Rossman, 1969)
  • Highland Garter Snake - Thamnophis fulvus (Bocourt, 1893)
  • Giant Garter Snake - Thamnophis gigas (Fitch, 1940)
  • Godman's Garter Snake - Thamnophis godmani (Günther, 1894)
  • Two-striped Garter Snake - Thamnophis hammondii (Kennicott, 1860)
  • Checkered Garter Snake - Thamnophis marcianus (Baird & Girard, 1853)
  • Blackbelly Garter Snake - Thamnophis melanogaster
    • Gray Blackbelly Garter Snake - Thamnophis melanogaster canescens (Smith, 1942)
    • Chihuahuan Blackbelly Garter Snake - Thamnophis melanogaster chihuahuanensis (Tanner, 1959)
    • Lined Blackbelly Garter Snake - Thamnophis melanogaster linearis (Smith, Nixon & Smith, 1950)
    • Mexican Blackbelly Garter Snake - Thamnophis melanogaster melanogaster (Peters, 1864)
  • Tamaulipan Montane Garter Snake - Thamnophis mendax (Walker, 1955)
  • Northwestern Garter Snake - Thamnophis ordinoides (Baird & Girard, 1852)
  • Western Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis proximus
    • Chiapas Highland Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis proximus alpinus (Rossman, 1963)
    • Arid Land Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis proximus diabolicus (Rossman, 1963)
    • Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis proximus orarius (Rossman, 1963)
    • Western Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis proximus proximus (Say, 1823)
    • Redstripe Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus (Rossman, 1963)
    • Mexican Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis proximus rutiloris (Cope, 1885)
  • Eastern Plains Garter Snake - Thamnophis radix (Baird & Girard, 1853)
  • Rossman's Garter Snake - Thamnophis rossmani (Conant, 2000)
  • Narrowhead Garter Snake - Thamnophis rufipunctatus
    • Thamnophis rufipunctatus nigronuchalis (Thompson, 1957)
    • Thamnophis rufipunctatus unilabialis (Tanner, 1985)
    • Thamnophis rufipunctatus rufipunctatus (Cope, 1875)
  • Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis sauritus Common Garter Snake
  • Longtail Alpine Garter Snake - Thamnophis scalaris (Cope, 1861)
  • Short-tail Alpine Garter Snake - Thamnophis scaliger (Jan, 1863)
  • Common Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis
    • Texas Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis annectens (Brown, 1950)
    • Red-spotted Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis concinnus (Hallowell, 1852)
    • New Mexico Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis dorsalis (Baird & Girard, 1853)
    • Valley Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi (Fox, 1951)
    • California Red-sided Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis (Blainville, 1835)
    • Thamnophis sirtalis lowei (Tanner, 1988)
    • Maritime Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis pallidula (Allen, 1899)
    • Red-sided Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis (Say, 1823)
    • Puget Sound Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis pickeringii (Baird & Girard, 1853)
    • Bluestripe Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis similis (Rossman, 1965)
    • Eastern Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (Linnaeus, 1758)
    • Chicago Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis semifasciatus (Cope, 1892)
    • San Francisco Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia (Cope, 1875)
  • Sumichrast's Garter Snake - Thamnophis sumichrasti (Cope, 1866)
  • West Coast Garter Snake - Thamnophis valida
    • Mexican Pacific Lowlands Garter Snake - Thamnophis valida celaeno (Cope, 1860)
    • Thamnophis valida isabellae (Conant, 1953)
    • Thamnophis valida thamnophisoides (Conant, 1961)
    • Thamnophis valida valida (Kennicott, 1860)
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