Narrow-Headed Garter Snake Gets 447 miles of Protected Stream HabitatThe decline of narrow-headed garter snake is attributed to the destruction of the stream side habitats in which they live.

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Narrow-Headed Garter Snake Gets 447 miles of Protected Stream Habitat

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced the protection of 447 miles of streams in Arizona and New Mexico for the narrow-headed garter snake (

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced the protection of 447 miles of streams in Arizona and New Mexico for the narrow-headed garter snake (Thamnophis rufipunctatus), a snake that was granted Endangered Species Act protections in 2014, along with the northern Mexican garter snake (Thamnophis eques megalops).

The service announced October 20 the protection of 46 miles of the Gila River, 71 miles of the San Francisco River, 52 miles of the Blue River, 20 miles of the Tularosa River and 27 miles of the Verde River, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. This ruling follows on the heels of the announcement in April of the protection of 217 stream miles of critical habitat for the northern Mexican garter snake.

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“Protecting these rivers will make a real difference for the narrow-headed garter snake,” Brian Segee, endangered species legal director at the Center said in a statement announcing the protections. “The only way to save these river-dwelling snakes is to shield the places they live.”

“Protecting rivers that disappearing animals rely on benefits snakes, fish, birds, amphibians and mammals, including people,” said Segee. “Protection should have come sooner for the narrow-headed garter snake. Now we have to focus on safeguarding and restoring our rivers to keep this snake swimming forever.”


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The decline of narrow-headed garter snake is attributed to the destruction of the stream side habitats in which they live. This destruction is due to livestock grazing, the removal of water from the streams, and agricultural and urban sprawl. Non-native species such as sunfish, bass, and crayfish also contribute to their decline.

Narrow-headed Garter Snake Information

The aquatic snake is greenish brown, blue grey, or olive grey with brown, orange or black spots on its back. It spends most of its time in water searching for prey items such as small trout and other fish. It grows to about 36 inches in length. The narrow-headed garter is found in high elevation streams in northern and eastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.