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Wildlife Common Garter Snake Page


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This copyrighted photograph is the sole proprietorship of the photographer.  Unauthorized use is a violation of federal copyright laws.
Photo by: Dr. Geoffery Hammerson
 Common Garter Snake
 Thamnophis sirtalis

Habitat: In Colorado, the common garter snake inhabits marshes, ponds, and the edges of streams. For the most part, it is restricted to aquatic, wetland, and riparian habitats along the floodplains of streams.

Food and Predators: Common garter snakes feed opportunistically on frogs, toads, fishes, and earthworms. In Colorado, the known diet of adults includes various fishes, small metamorphosed bullfrogs, northern leopard frogs, other larval and adult amphibians, and earthworms.

The usual array of predators occasionally take this snake, but there are few specific instances of predation in Colorado (other than some snakes killed intentionally by humans).

Recognition: Pale stripes on sides of body on second and third scale rows above lateral edges of belly scales; belly pale and unmarked; red blotches between stripes on back (red may be confined to skin between scales); usually seven upper labials (lacking heavy black markings) on each side of head; dorsal scales keeled, in 19 rows at midbody; anal scale single; tongue red at base. The tail sometimes is incomplete due to breakage. Mature male: knobbed keels on dorsal scales near vent.

Distribution: Northern British Columbia, southern Northwest Territories, central Manitoba, central Ontario, southern Quebec, and the Maritime Provinces of Canada south to southern California, western Nevada, northern Utah, northeastern Colorado, the U.S. Gulf Coast, and southern Florida; disjunctly south to New Mexico and northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico (Ross-man, Ford, and Seigel 1996). Occurs in northeastern Colorado along the South Platte River and its tributaries at elevations below 6,000 feet (1,830 m) and in the North Fork Republican River drainage in Yuma County at about 3,5003,600 feet (1,0651,100 m) (Hammerson and Smith 1993b); widely distributed along the eastern base of the Front Range.


Status: State Special Concern


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Common Garter Snake Specific Links
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