Eastern Garter Snake

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There are three species of garter snakes in Ohio -- the Eastern garter, Easter plains garter, and the Butler’s garter snake. The Eastern garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) is the most common, ranging throughout Ohio.

Garter snakes come in a variety of colorings. Generally, the Eastern garter snake can be identified by its dark body with three stripes, a thin one on its back and thicker ones on either side. The stripes are normally yellow. Eighteenth-century Moravian missionary, David Zeisberger, described garter snakes as, "a kind of striped, brightly marked snakes which are small and harmless."

It is diurnal, usually hunting in moist habitats such as wet woodlands, meadows, marshes and along drainage ditches and streams. Its diet consists of frogs, toads, salamanders, earthworms, minnows and mice.

Although cold blooded, the garter snake can tolerate very cold weather but will come together in large numbers to hibernate during the winter. When spring arrives they will breed from March to May, producing 7 - 85 live young. The average adult garter snake is 18 - 26 inches long, yet can reach a maximum length of 36 inches.

A garter snake's life expectancy is no longer than ten years.

See Also