Long-Lost Snake Species Found

July 09, 2013

The northern Mexican garter snake was once thought to be extinct in New Mexico, but all that changed last month when six were found in the state. Matt Eschenbrenner sounded optimistic about the possible numbers of northern Mexican garter snakes in Arizona and New Mexico, and that is his job.

snake Turns out Mexican garter snakes aren't extinct. They just hadn't been seen in about two decades. Several were recently found in New Mexico, raising hopes that populations might exist in Arizona, too. (Photo courtesy of Albuquerque BioPark)


Before June, the snakes had not been seen in close to 20 years. So, the senior zookeeper at the Albuquerque BioPark has been part of a team searching for the snakes in southwestern New Mexico. Ecshenbrenner said he and his coworkers talked about the snakes constantly for more than three years.

“We thought we would end up finding them. Now, you know, two years go by and you’re not as confident as you were at the very start,” Ecshenbrenner said, laughing, “but it turned out that was the case. So, hadn’t been seen in a long time, but, yeah, we always had a feeling that we would run into them.”

Eschenbrenner said a few of the northern Mexican garter snakes will be bred in captivity at the Albuquerque Zoo. They will also be in display at the zoo, in a special area for threatened species.