Garter Snake
Thamnophis spp.
Family Colubridae

* Marked by light-colored stripes down the sides of the body, bordered by darker stripes. The position of the stripes distinguishes different, closely related species.
* Most species have two small, white or yellow spots on top of their heads.
* Females larger than males.
* Scales ridged, in 19 rows.
* Length: Up to 3'.

Natural History:
* Habitat: Wet or dry areas, in forests or in open meadows and hillsides.
* Range: Garter snake species range throughout North America.
* Behavior: Feeds on frogs, toads, salamanders, earthworms, insects, and sometimes mice. Mates in early spring and late summer. Babies born alive, 5-9" long. Often flattens body when alarmed, making pattern of stripes especially visible.
* Native.

* Garter snakes are not poisonous or dangerous; when frightened, they may discharge a slightly unpleasant-smelling musk, but few species bite. Don't fear them or harm them - they are intelligent and beneficial animals!

* The name 'garter snake' comes from the snake's pattern of stripes, which resembles the garters that gentlemen used to employ to hold up their socks.

* The most common garter snake in our area is the Eastern garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis, which normally has three yellowish stripes on a black background.


Created by: Niki Zhou and Carla Holleran
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: June 25, 2004
Last Modified: August 7, 2004
Expries: June 1, 2005