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Occurrence of the Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtali

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS PUBLICATIONS MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

VOLUME 13, NO. 5, PP. 289-308, 4 FIGS. FEBRUARY 10, 1961

OCCURRENCE OF THE GARTER SNAKE, THAMNOPHIS SIRTALIS, IN THE GREAT PLAINS AND ROCKY MOUNTAINS

BY

HENRY S. FITCH AND T. PAUL MASLIN

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS LAWRENCE 1961 UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS PUBLICATIONS, MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

EDITORS: E. RAYMOND HALL, CHAIRMAN, HENRY S. FITCH, ROBERT W. WILSON

VOLUME 13, NO. 5, PP. 289-308, 4 FIGS. PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 10, 1961

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS LAWRENCE, KANSAS

PRINTED IN THE STATE PRINTING PLANT TOPEKA, KANSAS 1961

OCCURRENCE OF THE GARTER SNAKE, THAMNOPHIS SIRTALIS, IN THE GREAT PLAINS AND ROCKY MOUNTAINS

BY

HENRY S. FITCH AND T. PAUL MASLIN

INTRODUCTION

The common garter snake (_Thamnophis sirtalis_) has by far the most extensive geographic range of any North American reptile, covering most of the continental United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from south of the Mexican boundary far north into Canada and southeastern Alaska. Of the several recognized subspecies, the eastern _T. s. sirtalis_ has the most extensive range, but that of _T. s. parietalis_ in the region between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains is almost as large. The more western _T. s. fitchi_ occurring from the Oregon and California coasts east through the northern Great Basin, has the third largest range, while the far western subspecies _pickeringi_, _concinnus_, _infernalis_ and _tetrataenia_, and the Texan _T. s. annectens_ all have relatively small ranges.

Since the publication of Ruthven's revision of the genus _Thamnophis_ more than 50 years ago, little attention has been devoted to the study of this widespread and variable species, except in the Pacific Coast states (Van Denburgh, 1918; Fitch, 1941; Fox, 1951). However, Brown (1950) described the new subspecies _annectens_ in eastern Texas, and many local studies have helped to clarify the distribution of the species in the eastern part of the continent and to define the zone of intergradation between the subspecies _sirtalis_ and _parietalis_. In our study attention has been focused upon _parietalis_ in an attempt to determine its western limits and its relationships to the subspecies that replace it farther west.


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