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December 23, 2016 3 min read

Common Eastern Garter Snake

Facts Identification & Control

Latin Name:Thamnophis sirtalis

Physical features

The common Garter snake comes in different colors with a slender and long body. They are normally 18-26 inches in length but some can reach a length of four feet when fully grown. Running down the length of the body are three light stripes and color of the upper body can be olive, brown-grey or red. The stripes which are in mostly distinctive and sometimes in undefined pattern can be yellow, green, brown, blue, grey, orange or white in color, some however don’t possess stripes. The rear of the common garter snake can be white or cream.

Behavior, Habits & Diet

The first kind of snakes to appear during winter are the common garter snakes and they are around throughout the whole year and during days that are warm during winters. The garter snakes unlike other snakes give birth to their young ones alive. They can give birth to 50 offspring at a time. Since the common garter snake is an excellent swimmer, it hunts in pools with its mouth opened to feed on preys. It also hunts by using scent and sight to locate preys on land. When a prey like the earthworm is located, the common garter snake puts its head inside the hole of the earthworm to feed on the earthworm.

The prey of common garter can be tadpoles, fish, earthworms, insects, leeches, crayfish or slugs. The earthworms and amphibians are however the favorites on its meal. The fully grown ones can also feed on young mice or voles.

With the exception of the dry deserts in southwest, common garter snakes can be found in region between the Pacific and Atlantic coast. They can dwell in variety of places like marshes, meadows, hillsides and woodlands. They like cool damp areas and a grassy surroundings near a water source. They prefer to stay in shady areas like vegetation, debris piles, rocks and logs. They are the most common seen in residential areas.

Further Information

The Common garter snakes have a gland located on the upper jaw on the both sides of the mouth that produces a very mild toxic venom. This is the reason why the snake is considered to be harmless. The snakes are unable to inject venom into a victim because they lack fangs though prolonged bites can cause swelling and bleeding in people that were bitten, which is due to the continuous injection of venom into the body.

You can contact a pest management professional (PMP) if you are being troubled by snakes in your surroundings to help you deal with the problem.

Terminating the food source of the common garter snake can also be a solution. You should mow vegetation around your house because they are one of the main attractants of the snake. You should also do away with debris, piles, firewood, lumber and any other thing that can serve as home for the snakes. Block all holes and cracks in your building, utility connections and pipes. Use snake-proof fence to secure area where children play. You should note that you can’t repel common garter snakes with the use of fake hawk or owl decoy and ultrasonic sound emitters (they can’t hear the sound especially in high frequency)