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"Extinct" Northern Mexican Garter Snake Re-discovered in New Mexico

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Jul 08, 2013 06:48 AM EDT
A northern Mexican gartersnake
A northern Mexican gartersnake. Photo by Doug Hotle/ABQ BioPark. (Photo : y Doug Hotle/ABQ BioPark )

Biologists found three individuals of a snake species that was once considered to be extinct.  The northern Mexican garter snakes were discovered last month near the Gila river.

The snakes were re-discovered by Herpetologists from the ABQ BioPark Zoo after a gap of 20 years since the last sighting of Thamnophis eques or northern Mexican gartersnake in New Mexico.

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There are about eight types of garter snakes in New Mexico, with the North Mexican garter snake being the rarest. It was last seen in the 1990s.

The snake was earlier found in Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and parts of Mexico, The Associated Press reported.

These snakes live in wetlands and in the past century their habitat has been reduced by a whopping 90 percent. Habitat loss along with presence of non-native predators such as bullfrogs, have been responsible for its near-extinction.

Biologists collected DNA sample, tagged and released two snakes while another snake was brought back to Albuquerque for identification. The male snake is currently being kept in quarantine and will be joining reptiles in the Conservation Gallery of the Reptile House. Biologists have planned to breed the snakes at the zoo.

"This is a huge find for our team. We have spent nearly three years and thousands of man-hours looking for the northern Mexican gartersnake," said Doug Hotle, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians in a press release. "Although many have written this species off for the state, we thought it was still here somewhere undetected. This discovery means there is still hope for the species and its habitat."

 

 

 

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