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|Identification: Top of head gray; white
stripes on sides on second and third scale rows above outer edges of belly
scales; yellowish stripe along middle of back; two large black blotches on
neck; heavy black marks on vertical sutures between upper labial scales;
upper scales keeled; anal scale single; maximum total length about 114 cm
(45 inches) but seldom more than 75 cm (30 inches). The western
terrestrial garter snake often is mistaken for this species.
Known to occur as far north as the
Arkansas River valley in southeastern Colorado, in John Brown Canyon in Mesa
County in west-central Colorado, and in southern La Plata and Archuleta counties
in southwestern Colorado, at elevations below 6,500 feet. Spotty distribution,
Vicinity of permanent and
intermittent streams, often in canyon bottoms with rocky slopes covered in oak
and/or juniper; frequently wanders away from streams, sometimes observed in open
grassland, especially near dry washes or at temporary pools used by breeding
toads. Takes shelters under rocks or wood, in crevices or burrows, or among
exposed streamside tree roots.
Limited information indicates that
females give birth to their young in August. Forages on land and in shallow
water on available larval and adult amphibians (especially anurans), small
fishes, and tadpole shrimp.