Fun Western Ribbon Snake Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Western ribbon snake facts talk about their distinct stripes.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.0 Min

Are you l0oking for an interesting snake that has the ability to travel both on water and land? Then you must read about the western ribbon snake, or Thamnophis proximus.

Being a part of the family of garter snakes, this snake derives its name from two factors. Firstly, they are found along the west coast of the United States of America.

The second part of their name comes from the ribbon-like patterns on their back. Being non-venomous in nature, these snakes are harmless and docile. However, they are very sensitive to human presence and do not really like to be handled.

Thus, keeping them as pets would not be the greatest of decisions. Interestingly, in the wild, this snake is often found in forests or grasslands that have a source of water nearby.

So, read on to learn more about this snake. If you want facts about other serpents and reptiles, take a look at the black rat snake and the eastern diamondback rattlesnake.

Western Ribbon Snake Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Western Ribbon Snake?

The western ribbon snake (Thamnophis proximus) is a type of non-venomous snake that is found in North and Central America. They are usually found, as the name suggests, on the western coast of America, especially the Gulf Coast. There are around seven subspecies of the western ribbonsnake (Thamnophis proximus).

What class of animal does a Western Ribbon Snake belong to?

The western ribbon snake (Thamnophis proximus) belongs to the class of reptiles, or Reptilia, and to the family of Colubridae.

How many Western Ribbon Snakes are there in the world?

Due to the western ribbon snake (Thamnophis proximus) being spread across the Gulf Coast of the US, with other subspecies being found in the countries like Mexico. There is no total estimation of the population of the western ribbon snakes, however, the species, including all the subspecies, are in no imminent danger of seeing their numbers decrease.

Where does a Western Ribbon Snake live?

A western ribbon snake (Thamnophis proximus) is a semi-aquatic snake that is found near a water body in a tropical or temperate forest. This habitat trait is similar to the species of the Eastern ribbon snakes (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus).

As already mentioned, they are found in North and Central America.

In the United States, the western ribbon snake (Thamnophis proximus), unlike the Eastern ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus), is found in the western states. These include states along the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, and some parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

What is a Western Ribbon Snake's habitat?

The Thamnophis proximus (Western ribbon snake) are non-venomous and diurnal in nature. They usually inhabit those areas of the forests or grasslands that have a water body in the vicinity.

Due to their semi-aquatic nature, these ribbon snakes can travel both on land and in the water. Thamnophis proximus is a species of garter snakes, so they do carry certain vintage characteristics of the garter snakes, including being harmless to human beings.

These ribbon snakes in their water habitat can easily dive into the water when they feel uncomfortable, scared, or disturbed.

Sometimes, they have also been reported to climb up the bushes that are overhanging near the water source. Thamnophis proximus have often been observed to hide in rocks and crevices.

Usually, during spring, these ribbon snakes are seen to travel to higher ground in order to bask in the sun. During the cold winter months, like most snakes, they hibernate in order to survive.

Who do Western Ribbon Snakes live with?

All ribbon snakes are known to be solitary creatures who usually travel and hunt their prey alone. This trait applies to the western ribbon snakes and their subspecies.

How long does a Western Ribbon Snake live?

Western ribbon snakes have varying lifespans in the wild and in captivity. In the wild, this snake is known to have a lifespan that varies between three and six years. However, in captivity, this snake shows a remarkable increase in lifespan. When in captivity, the ribbon snakes can live up to 20 years.

How do they reproduce?

Western ribbon snakes, similar to the eastern ribbon snakes (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus), are oviparous in nature. This simply means that they are known to give birth to live young snakes.

The breeding and mating time for all types of ribbon snakes, including the western and eastern variant, is in spring. The species of western ribbon snakes have always been observed to look for mates after their hibernation period is over during the winter months.

Males of this subspecies of garter snakes will follow the females through their scent.

This mating generally takes place when the snakes are around two years old. The western ribbon snakes, with distinctive stripes, are known to give birth to a litter of up to 27 young snakes.

The average litter size is around 12. The other important aspect about the breeding of this garter snake subspecies is that breeding happens once a year, in both the Thamnophis proximus and Thamnophis sauritus sauritus (Eastern ribbon snakes).

What is their conservation status?

Both the eastern and the western ribbon snakes are found in abundance in the wild. This can be best seen in the fact that the International Union For Conservation of Nature has categorized the eastern ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus) and the western ribbon snake (Thamnophis proximus) as of Least Concern.

However, ribbon snakes are known to be quite sensitive to human encroachment on their habitat.

This may lead to a decrease in the number of these species with their distinct lateral stripes. In Wisconsin, this species has been branded as Endangered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Western Ribbon Snake Fun Facts

What do Western Ribbon Snakes look like?

Thamnophis proximus is usually found in Central to North America.

Western ribbon snakes, much like the eastern ribbon snakes, are known for their three lateral stripes along the length of their body. These stripes are usually greenish-white or yellowish-white in color. Along with the stripes, the body of the snake is covered in a dark brown or black color.

Unlike their eastern counterpart, these subspecies of garter snakes have a white spot on their foreheads. They have a short head and a narrow neck can be seen to be present when placed under observation.

The scales of these snakes are keeled. Most subspecies of ribbon snakes have an undivided anal plate. The western ribbon snakes follow that trait of having a single and undivided anal plate.

How cute are they?

With their characteristic ribbon-like stripes, these ribbon snakes can rank quite high on the cuteness quotient. They are naturally harmless for human beings and do not prey on us. However, they are pretty shy as well with many of them often hiding at the first sight of humans.

How do they communicate?

It has been observed that the Thamnophis proximus will communicate with another via the use of vibrations. They can also use this vibration when there is prey or a threat in close proximity to them.

The other way they use to communicate is their slit tongue. The slit tongue has special receptors in them.

Now according to reports, these receptors can be used to collect certain chemicals from the air. This usage of the slit tongue is especially visible when the males are chasing after the female during the breeding season.

How big is a Western Ribbon Snake?

The Thamnophis proximus is pretty long on average. While the total length of the body can be anywhere between 8.3 to 49.2 in, the average length remains between 24 and 36 in.

Very rarely do these snakes get bigger than 4ft in length. In comparison, the average green anaconda is almost seven or even eight times the size of these snakes.

How fast can a Western Ribbon Snake move?

While there is not much data on how fast this species of ribbon snake can move, it is generally agreed to be a fast mover when running after amphibious prey.

In addition to their speed on land, these snakes, and all their subspecies, are fast swimmers in the water, traveling quite fast by simply gliding across the surface of the water.

How much does a Western Ribbon Snake weigh?

The weight of this species of snake is usually measured to be more or less around 26 or 27oz. The bigger snakes might be heavier.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct male or female names for the snakes of this species.

What would you call a baby Western Ribbon Snake?

As per the common terminology applied to all young snakes, a baby snake of this type of ribbon snake would simply be called a hatchling.

What do they eat?

Other smaller reptiles and amphibians are the main type of prey for the Thamnophis proximus. Frogs and tadpoles are the usual favorites of this snake type and are a part of its natural diet. However, they do not eat their prey by constriction. They used their jaws to bite and swallow their prey.

Are they poisonous?

No, they are neither poisonous nor venemous.

Would they make a good pet?

Due to their extreme sensitivity to human encroachment in their habitat, we would not recommend that you keep the Thamnophis proximus as a pet. Also, in some states like Wisconsin, owning this snake as a pet is against the law.

Did you know...

Thamnophis proximus is a snake that, when caught, can spray its own feces on its captor as a method of escaping.

Also, when it's caught, this snake can shed its tail and escape. Unfortunately, unlike some species of lizards, this snake's tail won't regenerate.

Western Ribbon Snakes in the wild

In the wild, the Thamnophis proximus is usually seen slithering along rocks and crevices or diving into the water when they sense danger. However, there are certain animals that hunt this snake; for eg, hawks and falcons, weasels, and other larger snakes like the rattlesnake.

How to catch a Western Ribbon Snake

These snakes can be caught using a variety of methods. These include trapping them by hand, traps using wire-meshed funnels. They have also been captured using jars.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including the Burmese python and the rattlesnake.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our angry snake coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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