Giant garter snake

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Giant garter snake
Giant Garter Snake 1.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Natricinae
Genus: Thamnophis
Species: T. gigas
Binomial name
Thamnophis gigas
Fitch, 1940

The giant garter snake, Thamnophis gigas, is the largest species of garter snake. It is largely aquatic.

Biology and ecology[edit]

The giant garter snake is endemic to the Central Valley wetlands of California. It is active when water temperatures are at 68° F (20°C) or more, and is dormant underground when its aquatic habitat is below this temperature. Fish and frogs form a large portion of the diet of the giant garter snake.

Conservation biology[edit]

Destruction of wetland and habitat has been so widespread, this species is listed as threatened by the state and federal governments.[2] The giant garter snake populations of the San Joaquin Valley are now tiny disconnected remnants.[3] It has been extirpated from 98% of the former San Joaquin habitat.[4] The giant garter snake has fared better in the Sacramento Valley because rice cultivation and the associated canals have provided habitat,[2] when rice land is fallowed, populations seem to then move away from adjacent ditches.[5]

In addition to habitat loss and fragmentation, introduced predators such as the American bullfrog may also be suppressing recovery.[6] Attempts are underway to restore artificial wetlands to provide quality habitat for the giant garter snake, but it is too early to know if these efforts will significantly aid the recovery of this threatened species.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hammerson, G.A. (2007). Thamnophis gigas. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 2007-10-31.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 1999. Draft Recovery Plan for the Giant Garter Snake. Portland, Oregon.
  3. ^ U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 1993. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of Threatened Status for the Giant Garter Snake. Portland, Oregon.
  4. ^ Thamnophis gigas - Giant Gartersnake
  5. ^ Wylie, G.D., M.L. Casazza, and L.L. Martin. 2004. Monitoring giant garter snakes in the Natomas Basin: 2003 results. Progress report for The Natomas Basin Conservancy. USGS, BRD Dixon Field Station. 75pp. [Technical Report][1]
  6. ^ Wylie, G.D., M.L. Casazza, and M. Carpenter. 2003. Diet of bullfrogs in relation to predation on giant garter snakes at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. California Fish and Game 89(3): 139-145.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fitch, H.S. 1940. A Biogeographical Study of the Ordinoides Artenkreis of Garter Snakes (Genus Thamnophis). Univ. California Publ. Zool. 44 (1): 1-150, Figures 1-21, Plates 1-7.