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Thamnophis saurita (LINNAEUS, 1766)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesThamnophis saurita nitae ROSSMAN 1963
Thamnophis saurita sackenii (KENNICOTT 1859)
Thamnophis saurita saurita (LINNAEUS 1766)
Thamnophis saurita septentrionalis ROSSMAN 1963 
Common NamesE: Eastern Ribbonsnake
nitae: Bluestripe Ribbon Snake
sackenii: Peninsula Ribbon Snake
sauritus: Eastern Ribbon Snake
septentrionalis: Northern Ribbon Snake
G: Östliche Streifen-Strumpfbandnatter, Östliche Bändernatter 
SynonymColuber saurita LINNAEUS 1766: 385
Tropidonotus saurita — SCHLEGEL 1837: 323
Leptophis sauritus — HOLBROOK 1842
Eutaenia saurita — BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
Tropidonotus saurita — DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 585
Prymnomiodon chalceus COPE 1861: 558 (fide ROSSMANN 1996)
Tropidonotus saurita — GARMAN 1884: 23
Tropidonotus nicobaricus SCLATER 1891: 231 (fide Lee et al. 2023)
Tropidonotus nicobariensis SCLATER 1891: 241
Tropidonotus saurita — BOULENGER 1893: 212
Tropidonotus nicobariensis — BOULENGER 1893: 192
Tropidonotus nicobariensis — ANNANDALE 1905
Thamnophis sauritus — STONE 1906
Thamnophis saurita — SURFACE 1906
Thamnophis sauritus — RUTHVEN 1908
Natrix nicobarensis — WALL 1910: 601
Thamnophis sauritus chalceus — DUNN 1940
Thamnophis sauritus chalceus — SMITH 1942
Natrix nicobarensis [sic] — SMITH 1943: 289
Thamnophis sauritus chalceus — SMITH et al. 1950: 577
Thamnophis sirtalis chalceus — TAYLOR 1951: 36
Thamnophis sauritus chalceus — MERTENS 1952: 76
Paranatrix nicobariensis — MAHENDRA 1984: 246
Thamnophis sauritus sauritus — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 170
Amphiesma nicobarensis — DAS 1996: 53
Amphiesma nicobariense — DAVID, VOGEL & PAUWELS 1998
Thamnophis sauritus — CROTHER et al. 2012
Thamnophis sauritus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 725
Hebius nicobariense — GUO et al. 2014: 438
Amphiesma nicobarense — WALLACH et al. 2014: 31 (in error)
Thamnophis saurita — KRAUS & CAMERON 2016
Thamnophis saurita — FRETEY 2019
Hebius nicobariensis — YHOU 2019: 78
Hebius nicobariensis — DAVID et al. 2021

Thamnophis saurita nitae ROSSMAN 1963
Thamnophis sauritus nitae ROSSMAN 1963: 163
Thamnophis sauritus nitae — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 171
Thamnophis sauritus nitae — CROTHER 2000
Thamnophis sauritus nitae — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 118
Thamnophis sauritus nitae — CROTHER et al. 2012

Thamnophis saurita sackenii (KENNICOTT 1859)
Eutaenia sackenii KENNICOTT 1859
Thamnophis sackenii — LOENNBERG 1894
Thamnophis sauritus sackenii — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 171
Thamnophis sauritus sackenii — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 117
Thamnophis sauritus sackenii — SONNENBERG 2006
Thamnophis sauritus sackenii — CROTHER et al. 2012

Thamnophis saurita saurita (LINNAEUS 1766)
Thamnophis sauritus sauritus — CROTHER 2000
Thamnophis sauritus sauritus — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 114
Thamnophis sauritus sauritus — CROTHER et al. 2012
Thamnophis sauritus sauritus — GUYER et al. 2018

Thamnophis saurita septentrionalis ROSSMAN 1963
Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis ROSSMAN 1963: 159
Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis — CROTHER 2000
Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 116
Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis — CROTHER et al. 2012 
DistributionSE Canada (Nova Scotia, Quebec: Ottawa River, Ontario),
USA (SE Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, SE Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, S Maine)

Introduced to the Bahamas ([HR 29: 55], Johnson & Francois 2018)

nitae: S USA (Florida); Type locality: "McDonald Slough, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida."

sackenii: S USA (Florida), Type locality: "Florida."

sauritus: E USA (Alabama, Mississippi, Lousiana, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, S Maine); Type locality: South Carolina, Charleston County, Charleston [neotype]

septentrionalis: USA (Wisconsin, Michigan, New York etc.?), Canada (Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario); Type locality: "Michigan Hollow, near Ithaca, Tompkins County, NY”.  
TypesNeotype: FMNH 73119, designated by Schmidt & Conant 1956.
Holotype: ZSI 8895, from “Camorta in the Nicobars” ((Nicobar Island, India, in error) [Tropidonotus nicobariensis]
Holotype: UF 12150 (formerly Florida State Museum of Natural History) [nitae]
Holotype: lost (presumed) fide Rossman 1970, but originally deposited in the collection of Northwestern University, collected by Baron Osten Sacken [sackenii]
Holotype: UF 12179 (formerly Florida State Museum of Natural History) [septentrionalis]

CommentType species: Coluber saurita LINNAEUS 1766 is the type species of the genus Thamnophis FITZINGER 1843: 26. Thamnophis is also the type genus of the tribe Thamnophiini (including Thamnophis, Regina, Liodytes, Regina, and Storeria, fide McVay & Carstens 2013).

Thamnophis are usually considered as a harmless species. However, there are several reports in the literature that describe symptoms of envenomation after Thamnophis bites (e.g. Gomez et al. 1994, Jansen & Foerhing 1983, Jansen 1987). However, garter snakes are usually not agressive and bite very rarely.

Synonymy: Kaiser et al. 2013 rejected the (sub-) generic names Brucerogersus Hoser 2012, Gregshwedoshus Hoser 2012, Neilsonnemanus Hoser 2012, Pughus Hoser 2012, Whybrowus Hoser 2012 as invalid.

Phylogenetics: for a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the genus see Hallas et al. 2022, who also provide a phyologenetic analysis of diet and other traits. Hallas et al. also synonymized Adelophis with Thamnophis although the former is somewhat different morphologically (see also T. copei, the type species of Adelophis).

Distribution: Neill & Allen 1959 reported Thamnophis sauritus chalceus from British Honduras (Belize). Not in Mexico, although erroneously reported from Tamaulipas (O. Flores-Villlea, pers. comm., 21 June 2021). 
EtymologyIt has been asserted that “The specific name sauritus is New Latin, meaning lizardlike” (Rossman 1970:99.1). This is incorrect for two reasons. First, the root sauros is Latinized Greek, not New Latin. Secondly, the suffix –ita does not mean “like”; it is a Spanish diminutive for feminine nouns. Kraus & Cameron (2016) have found no other explanation offered in the historical literature for the etymological origin of this name.
The Greek masculine a-stem noun σαυρίτης means “a kind of serpent.” Linnaeus correctly latinized the Greek masculine a-stem word as saurita, a noun in apposition ending in short “a”. Its emendation to sauritus by Holbrook (1842) was unjustified; hence, the proper name for this snake is Thamnophis saurita (Kraus & Cameron 2016, Fretey 2019).

The generic name Thamnophis is derived from the Greek "thamnos" (bush) and "ophis" (snake) . 
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