Snakes of Montana

Northern Rubber BoaCommon Garter Snake
Northern Rubber Boa
Mostly nocturnal, they prey on immature rodents and birds, reptiles, salamanders, and eggs. Rubber boas can be found in grasslands, meadows and forests.
Common Garter Snake
The average adult size of a garter snake is 22″.[1]

There Are 10 Species of Snakes Native to Montana:

  1. Rubber Boa – Charina bottae.
  2. North American or Eastern Racer – Coluber constrictor
  3. Western Hognose Snake – Heterodon nasicus
  4. Smooth Green Snake- Opheodrys vernalis
  5. Western Milksnake –Lampropeltis gentilis.
  6. Gopher snake or Bullsnake– Pituophis catenifer.
  7. Common Garter Snake – Thamnophis sirtalis.
  8. Terrestrial Garter Snake – Thamnophis elegans
  9. Plains Garter Snake – Thamnophis radix
  10. Prairie Rattlesnake – Crotalus viridis.

Snake Facts:

Fossil evidence suggests that snakes may be descended from burrowing lizards during the Cretaceous Period.[2]

Snakes are ectothermic – cold blooded. Snakes bask in the sun to warm up and are commonly found on trails or roadways. In winter, snakes will group together in an abandoned mammal den or cavity snakes. Sometimes groups of snakes will include different species.

Snakes’ scales reduce friction during movement which aids locomotion.

Snakes have no eyelids – their eyes are protected by a specialized scale.

Snakes use their forked tongues for taste and smell.  These senses are hooked up to the vomeronasal organ.  This is a secondary olfactory sense that is critical to snakes’ predatory success as they use their tongue to determine the direction of prey.

 

  1. Conant, Roger. (1975). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-19979-4. (Thamnophis sirtalis, pp. 157–160 + Plates 23 & 24 + Map 116).
  2. Mc Dowell, Samuel (1972). “The evolution of the tongue of snakes and its bearing on snake origins”.Evolutionary Biology 6: 191–273. doi:10.1007/978-1-4684-9063-3_8. ISBN 978-1-4684-9065-7.