Black-necked Garter Snake

Thamnophis cyrtopsis (Kennicott, 1860)

Alternate Name Blackneck Garter Snake
Spanish Name Culebra Lineada de Bosque
Max. Recorded Length 114.4 cm / 45 inches
Range Aguascalientes, Arizona, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Colima, Colorado, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Mexico City, Michoacan, Morelos, Nayarit, New Mexico, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Texas, Tlaxcala, Utah, Veracruz, Zacatecas
Pet Trade Availability ★★★☆ frequently available
Captivity Rating ★★★☆ good

Note: These species pages are in various stages of completion. Some are basically finished; others are very much under construction. Please be patient while I work on this section.



Tropical Black-necked Garter Snake
Thamnophis cyrtopsis collaris (Jan, 1863)
Southwestern and southern Mexico; Guatemala.
Western Black-necked Garter Snake
Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis (Kennicott, 1860)
West Texas, western U.S., and north-central Mexico.
Eastern Black-necked Garter Snake
Thamnophis cyrtopsis ocellatus (Cope, 1880)
From central Texas. A brilliantly coloured snake, this stunning subspecies is often seen in the pet trade.

Invalid Subspecies

Three former subspecies of Thamnophis cyrtopsis have been split off into separate species: the Mesoamerican Highlands Garter Snake, T. fulvus, the Tepalcatepec Valley Garter Snake, T. postremus, and the Yellow-throated Garter Snake, T. pulchrilatus. Two other former subspecies — T. c. cyclides Cope, 1861, and T. c. vicinus, H. M. Smith, 1942 — are now considered varieties of the Tropical Black-necked Garter Snake, T. c. collaris.


(To come.)

Captive Care

Due to the spectacular coloration of its eastern subspecies, the Black-necked Garter Snake is an increasingly familiar garter snake in the pet trade.

Rossi and Rossi (2003) list this as one of the generalist species of garter snake that tend to do best in captivity, and report good results when trying to convert them to mice. On their captive maintenance difficulty index, where 1 is the easiest and 5 the most difficult, they rate this species a 2, and consider it slightly less easy to care for than other generalists.

I kept a particularly difficult female from 2001 to 2002; she was aggressive and refused to eat anything but live fish. She must have been an outlier.

If you have experience with this species and would like to share, please contact me.

For general information on keeping garter snakes in captivity, please see the Care Guide.

Articles and News

No articles about the Black-necked Garter Snake have been published on yet.


Bartlett, R. D. and Alan Tennant. 1997. Snakes of North America: Western Region. Houston: Gulf.

Liner, Ernest A. 1994. Scientific and Common Names for the Amphibians and Reptiles of Mexico in English and Spanish. SSAR Herpetological Circular No. 23.

Rossi, John V. and Roxanne Rossi. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada: Natural History and Care in Captivity. Malabar FL: Krieger.

Rossman, Douglas A., Neil B. Ford and Richard A. Seigel. 1996. The Garter Snakes: Evolution and Ecology. Norman OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Werler, John E. and James R. Dixon. 2000. Texas Snakes: Identification, Distribution, and Natural History. Austin: University of Texas Press.