Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus, the Redstripe Ribbon Snake (Rossman, 1963)


Adult male T.p.rubrilineatus (captive bred)Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus, the Redstripe Ribbon Snake is with its striking red middorsal stripe a highly attractive and still rarely kept and bred subspecies of T.proximus.

Habitat of T.p.rubrilineatus in Real County (March 2012)


Ribbon Snakes (the English generic name used for both T.proximus and T.sauritus) are slender build members the genus of Thamnophis and they are very well adapted to climbing thin branches of shrubs to hunt for treefrogs. T.p.proximus and T.sauritus sackenii are a bit more common ribbon snakes in garter snake collections

Lengte en grootte van Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus

Adult male T.p.rubrilineatus (captive bred)Thamnophis proximus is a relatively long species of garter snake. The maximum length that is reported is 90 cm SVL (part of tail is missing; Rossman, Ford & Siegel, 1996).

Adult male T.p.rubrilineatus (captive bred)With an average tail length ranging from 25 – 33% the snake would measure 120 – 134 cm.

Average total length however is smaller; adult snakes range normally from 60 – 90 cm.

Males remain small and slender, but older females can become very long and relatively stout bodied.

Description of the Redstripe Ribbon Snake

T.p.rubrilineatus; adult female in Real County (March 2012)

T.p.rubrilineatus; adult female in Real County (March 2012)

The Redstripe Ribbon Snake is easily distinguished from the other subspecies of T. proximus because of its bright red middorsal stripe.

The intensity of the red middorsal stripe varies from warm or pale orange red to deep and dark wine red.

On the internet I have also seen a picture of T.p.diabolicus with a bright red middorsal stripe, but unfortunately internet is not always a reliable source of information.

Adult male T.p.rubrilineatus (captive bred)In literature (Rossman, Ford & Siegel, 1996)  I have not found any data confirming red middorsal striping of any of the other subspecies of T. proximus nor T.sauritus.

The belly is normally un patterned with a golden color. Lateral stripe varies from white to yellow, and the dorsal color can be grey, brownish or greenish. The snakes can have some spots in between the dorsal stripes, but usually the pattern is quite inconspicuous.

Terrarium for Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus

Example of a terrarium set up (here with T.s.infernalis)As a minimum requirement for the size of the terrarium to keep 1 or 2 adult couples of this species I recommend 80 x 50 x 50 cm (L x W x H), but 150 x 50 x 50 cm gives them more space and more variation in temperature.

I have kept these snakes in both all-glass as wooden (with a glass front) terrarium.

Personally I prefer the wooden terrarium since the snakes tend to be very fast and they might hurt their snouts against the glass when it is all glass. 

For the proper care of this species some things need extra attention.

The terrarium must be well ventilated, the land part must be completely dry and the right temperature range must be created.

I always try to create a temperature range with a warm corner of at least 30 – 35 °C and a cool corner not warmer than 20 – 24 °C during daytime.

The combination of ample ventilation (asymmetrical), sufficient terrarium volume (not too small or too low) and a light bulb high in the least ventilated corner of the terrarium automatically creates a temperature range!

Night temperatures in spring and fall may drop considerably (as low as 10 °C or even lower), this is no problem.

They do not need a lot water to do well in captivity. Although they would do well in an aqua terrarium (as long as the land part is large enough, warm and completely dry).

The adults snakes are almost always well visible and basking on branches on the warmest spot in the terrarium. I give them exclusively fish (smelt) but they can get used to baby mice. When they are fed with mice one has to prevent to overfeed them. Otherwise they will become too fat.  I hibernate both my adult and baby T.p.rubrilineatus at 1 – 7 ºC in the refrigerator or the shed; 6 – 8 weeks for the babies and up to 3 – 4 month for the adults.

For details read my article about hibernation (Bol, 2004).

Distribution and habitat of Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus.

Habitat of T.p.rubrilineatus in Real County (March 2012)The  Redstripe Ribbon Snake is endemic to Texas and it only occurs on the Edwards Plateau.
Habitat of T.p.rubrilineatus in Real County (March 2012)
It is a beautiful
area with gentle hills, limestone rocks, small canyons and a lot of creeks with clear water.

Early spring lots of wild flowers are flowering, like the famous Texas Bluebonnet.

Real County, Edwards plateau (general area in March 2012)For more details read my recent article (Bol, 2014 in press) on this website.

Also an older article (Bol, 2001) contains information.


Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis)Edwards Plateau, Texas, USA


My recent article (Bol, 2014 in press; see this website) can serve as a guideline for captive maintenance for T.p.rubrilineatus.

Kweek groep

Juveniles of T.p.rubrilineatusMy breeding group consists of (offspring of) 7 unrelated wildcaught snakes originating from Real and San Saba County in Texas.

By selective breeding I try maintain sufficient genetic variation to prevent future inbreeding problems.
This means that I normally can offer offspring that is not directly related and very well suitable for future breeding programs

Bol, S., 2001. Herpetological observations on the Edwards Plateau in central Texas; the habitat of the Redstripe Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus). The garter snake 6 (3): 4-14.
BOL, S., 2004. Hibernating Garter Snakes: A must or an option. The garter snake 9 (2): 3-11
BOL, S., 2014. Redstripe Ribbon Snake Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus (Rossman, 1963) in the wild and in captivity. (in press)
ROSSMAN, D.A., N.B.FORD & R.A.SIEGEL, 1996. The Garter Snakes. Evolution and ecology. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman

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