Southern Durango Spotted Garter Snake

Thamnophis nigronuchalis Thompson, 1957

Alternate Name Durangan Narrow-headed Garter Snake
Spanish Name Culebra de Agua de Cabeza-angosta Durango
Max. Recorded Length 76.7 cm / 30.2 inches
Range Durango

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.

Found in southwestern Durango state, Thamnophis nigronuchalis is the southernmost member of a species complex that also includes the Narrow-headed Garter Snake, Thamnophis rufipunctatus, in the United States and the newly defined Madrean Narrow-headed Garter Snake, Thamnophis unilabialis, further north in Mexico.

All three species can be characterized as long-nosed, brown or grey-brown spotted snakes that are found in aquatic habitat at high altitudes. Fish is their main prey item; amphibian larvae and tadpoles have also been reported.

This species was briefly considered a subspecies of the Narrow-headed Garter Snake. Rossman reinstated it as a full species on morphological grounds in 1995; recent research by Wood et al. (2011) suggests that this snake is genetically distinct as well.

Very little is known about this species specifically.

Captive Care

Captive care is presumably similar to that of the Narrow-headed Garter Snake and other long-nosed aquatic garter snake 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


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.

Wood, Dustin A. et al. 2011. “Refugial isolation and divergence in the Narrowheaded Gartersnake species complex (Thamnophis rufipunctatus) as revealed by multilocus DNA sequence data.” Molecular Biology 20: 3856-3878.