Taxonomic History

The Southern Ribbon Snake was named Thamnophis sauritus sackeni in 1859 by Kennicott. It was named the Southern Ribbon Snake in 1907 by Ditmars. According to Wright, the other common names are the grass snake, garter snake, osten-sacken's ribbon snake, osten -sacken's snake, ribbon snake, sacken's ribbon snake, southeastern snake. 30

Feeding mechanisms and diet

This subspecies of the Eastern Ribbon Snake is likely to eat frogs, treefrogs, fish, earthworms, toads, and salamanders.

Species Description

The following is a detailed description of this subspecies:

Size- adults 16-30 inches. Distinctive characteristics- body with longitudinal stripes, 2 labials in orbit; body very slender, tail long, lateral stripe on 3rd and 4th rows, all scales keeled, in 19 rows, tail 1/3 of length or more…scuttellation and proportions as in saurita, but the upper labials are almost invariable 8, instead of 7. The color is greenish olive, or blackish in old specimens, and the dorsal stripe is usually absent, in such cases showing for a short distance behind the head. Very slender, tail forming 1/3 of the total length. Crown more elevated and convex anteriorly than in e. sauria. Nineteen dorsal rows of scales. Color olive black above, not lighter below the lateral stripe. Lateral stripe greenish yellow, very narrow on the 3rd and 4th lateral rows. No dorsal stripe. Abdomen uniform greenish. The color of the upper parts is also much darker, and the first 2 rows of scales below the dorsal stripe are not lighter than above it. Eye over labials 4 and 5 color: the dorsal color is brussels brown, raw umber, or medal bronze. The dorsal stripe is vetiver green or light olive-gray bordered on either side with black. The skin between the dorsal scales shows as black and white flecks, and sometime there are black markings on the scales. The lateral stripes are marguerite yellow. The stripes cease on the tail, the dorsum there being light brownish olive to brownish olive to buffy olive. The color below the lateral stripe and on the ends of the ventrals is avellaneous, wood brown, or cinnamon-drab. The top of the head is grayish olive to deep grayish olive to citrine-drab to deep olive. There is a black stripe on the side of the head. The upper labials and lower side of the head are white, pale gull gray, or pallis purplish gray. The belly to the vent is tilleul buff or almost vinaceous- biff, the underside of the belly is olive- bud or deep olive- buff. 31

The Southern Ribbon Snake Thamnophis sauritus sackenii is smaller than the other Thamnophis sauritus subspecies. The scales are strongly keeled and they lack shine. "On gross examination thius appears to be a very slim, dull brown snake, with a strongly defined pale stripe on each side." 32

Reproduction

This subspecies is viviparous, laying its young between July 12 and August 1. There are between five and twelve young in a litter. 33

Biogeography

The subspecies is found in the following locations: coastal s.e. South Carolina across extreme s. Georgia, Alabama, s.e. Mississippi and all of Florida- Ala, Fla, Ga, Miss, S.C., elevation- sea level to 500 feet. 34

Lifestyle: Microhabitat and macrohabitat

It is commonly found in marshes, lakes, ponds, and shores of streams. It is both semi-aquatic and semi-arboreal. "Willow thickets in inundated meadows are a favorite habitat." 35