Page 121 - A Field Guide to Fairfax County's Plants and Wildlife
P. 121
tern Garter Snake

(Thamnophis sirtalis)


The Eastern Garter Snake’s back
is black, brown, gray or olive. It
has three light stripes down its back (one down the center and two alongside).
Alternating rows of dark spots look like a checkerboard. Its dark head is wider
than its neck. It can grow 46 to 137 centimeters long and matures at about two
years old. Mating season is from March to early May. Females bear 10 to 40
live young in late July or early August. It lives about two years in the wild. It is

Distribution and Habitat

This snake is found in all five physiographic provinces. It is semiaquatic, living
in terrestrial and wetland environments. This includes hardwood and pine
forests, grasslands, abandoned fields, freshwater marshes, along bodies of
water, and agricultural and urban areas. They prefer moist, grassy habitat.

Role in Food Web

Its diet includes Earthworms, Leopard Slugs, Meadow Voles, American Toads,

Red-backed Salamanders, Southern Leopard Frogs, White-footed Mice,

crayfish, Eastern Mosquitofish,

Venomous or Nonvenomous? Creek Chubs, Bluegills, Northern

Ringneck Snakes, Field Crickets,

Differential Grasshoppers, Spring

Peepers, small mammals, lizards

and baby birds. Its predators

include Red-tailed Hawks, Striped

Venomous Nonvenomous Skunks, Northern Water Snakes,
Common Snapping Turtles,

Raccoons, Virginia Opossums,

American Crows, Great Blue

Herons, foxes and squirrels.

It is safest not to harass any snake.

Most would rather quietly move

away than confront people, so give

them room.

r 117 r
   116   117   118   119   120   121   122   123   124   125   126