Mexican Black-bellied Garter Snake
Thamnophis melanogaster (Peters, 1864)
|Spanish Name||Culebra de Agua de Panza Negra Mexicana|
|Max. Recorded Length||86.4 cm / 34 inches|
|Range||Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Mexico City, Michoacan, Nayarit, San Luis Potosi, Tlaxcala, Zacatecas|
|Pet Trade Availability||★☆☆☆ rarely available|
|Search for This Species|
A medium-sized species from central Mexico, Thamnophis melanogaster is usually a dark brown snake without the distinctive stripes that characterize most garter snakes. The vertebral (central) stripe is usually absent or faint, and the lateral (side) stripes do not stand out (except in T. m. linearis).
Rossman et al. (1996) report that Thamnophis melanogaster is “highly aquatic,” primarily eats fish in the wild, and is, like the Sierra Garter Snake, an accomplished catcher of fish underwater. It may as a result be considered one of the group of long-nosed western aquatic garter snakes (including the Giant and Two-Striped garter snakes) that fill the ecological niche occupied elsewhere by water snakes.
- Gray Black-bellied Garter Snake
- Thamnophis melanogaster canescens H. M. Smith, 1942
- Found in west-central Mexico over a large range. Spanish name: Culebra de Agua de Panza Negruzca Gris.
- Chihuahuan Black-bellied Garter Snake
- Thamnophis melanogaster chihuahuaensis Tanner, 1959
- An isolated population in western Chihuahua. Juveniles and subadults often have spots; adults don’t. Spanish name: Culebra de Agua de Panza Negra de Chihuahua.
- Lined Black-bellied Garter Snake
- Thamnophis melanogaster linearis H. M. Smith, Nixon and P. W. Smith, 1950
- The lateral (side) stripes are more distinctive than in other subspecies. Found in the Valley of Toluca. Spanish name: Culebra de Agua de Panza Negra Línea.
- Mexican Black-bellied Garter Snake
- Thamnophis melanogaster melanogaster (Peters, 1864)
- Found in the Valley of Mexico.
This species is sometimes seen in captivity, and I know of people breeding it. Care is probably similar to that of aquatic species from the United States such the Sierra Garter Snake. I would be interested in hearing from people who have worked with this species.
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 Mexican Black-bellied Garter Snake have been published on Gartersnake.info yet.
Liner, Ernest A. 1994. Scientific and Common Names for the Amphibians and Reptiles of Mexico in English and Spanish. SSAR Herpetological Circular No. 23.
Rossman, Douglas A., Neil B. Ford and Richard A. Seigel. 1996. The Garter Snakes: Evolution and Ecology. Norman OK: University of Oklahoma Press.