Mexican Garter Snake
Thamnophis eques (Reuss, 1834)
|Spanish Name||Culebra de Agua Nómada Mexicano|
|Max. Recorded Length||121.6 cm / 47.9 inches|
|Range||Aguascalientes, Arizona, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Mexico City, Michoacan, Morelos, Nayarit, New Mexico, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Sonora, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Zacatecas|
|Pet Trade Availability||★☆☆☆ rarely available|
|Captivity Rating||★★☆☆ fair|
|Search for This Species|
In 2003 Roger Conant published an article, based on fieldwork dating back to the early 1960s, identifying seven new subspecies endemic to lakes in Mexico’s transvolcanic belt.
- El Carmen Garter Snake
- Thamnophis eques carmenensis Conant, 2003
- Atotonilco-Cajititlan Garter Snake
- Thamnophis eques diluvialis Conant, 2003
- Found at “Las Lagunas Atotonilco and Cajititlán and several isolated localities.”
- Cuitzeo Garter Snake
- Thamnophis eques cuitzeoensis Conant, 2003
- Melanistic subspecies from the Lago de Cuitzeo area.
- Southern Mexican Garter Snake
- Thamnophis eques eques (Reuss, 1834)
- Found from Veracruz to Zacatecas.
- Zacapu Garter Snake
- Thamnophis eques insperatus Conant, 2003
- (description). Known from a single specimen.
- Northern Mexican Garter Snake
- Thamnophis eques megalops (Kennicott, 1860)
- Found from Hidalgo to Arizona.
- Chapala Garter Snake
- Thamnophis eques obscurus Conant, 2003
- Patzcuaro Garter Snake
- Thamnophis eques patzcuaroensis Conant, 2003
- Magdalena Garter Snake
- Thamnophis eques scotti Conant, 2003
- Blue-striped Mexican Garter Snake
- Thamnophis eques virgatenuis Conant, 1963
- Found in Chihuaha and Durango at high elevations only; discontinuous range.
Endangered in Arizona and New Mexico, where this species has reportedly been in dramatic decline.
Rossi and Rossi (2003) report very few snakes of this species in captivity. There appears to have been an uptick in interest since then, however; a few breeders appear to be working with several subspecies, and the Cuitzeo Garter Snake in particular seems to be drawing special attention.
It appears to be an unproblematic captive that should be kept at temperatures appropriate to its range; it’s even reportedly a good candidate for switching to a mouse-based diet. However, its protected status throughout its U.S. range, coupled with the general unavailability of snakes from Mexico, make encounters with this species a rare occurrence in the pet and hobbyist trade, though that may be changing.
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
Conant, Roger. 2003. “Observations on Garter Snakes of the Thamnophis eques Complex in the Lakes of Mexico’s Transvolcanic Belt, with Descriptions of New Taxa.” American Museum Novitates 3406.
Ernst, Carl H. and Evelyn M. Ernst. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Washington: Smithsonian Books.
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.