* 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
* Females larger than males.
* Scales ridged, in 19 rows.
* Length: Up to 3'.
* 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.
* 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
* 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.