Eastern Garter Snake Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Status:

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) is probably the most widespread and familiar snake species in Maryland. This adaptable serpent can be found in forested habitats, to more open habitats like old fields or grassland, to wetland borders and marshes, and even in suburban yards. While T. sirtalis appears to eat primarily aquatic and semiaquatic vertebrates (like fish or amphibians), they will feed heavily on earthworms or other prey at times. Garters are generally the first snake species to become active in spring, and the last one to enter hibernation in fall. This snake is nonvenomous, though they readily musk, and may nip if handled (Tennant, 2003). Eastern Garter occurs in every Maryland county, and is generally common to abundant (Maryland DNR site).

Description:

This widespread snake species is generally distinctive in Maryland. The conspecific Common Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis s. sauritus) is superficially similar, also showing dark and light longitudinal lines like T. sirtalis. T. sauritus shows a contrasting pale whitish spot on the preocular scale, which is generally lacking on sirtalis. Both species show a maximum of 19 dorsal scale rows. The palelateral line on Eastern Garter occupies scale rows 2 and 3, while it is higher on ribbon, on scale rows 3 and 4. The labial scales lack dark markings on ribbon, while Eastern Garter typically shows some dark markings at the scale borders. Ribbon snakes have a proportionately longer tail, and a more slender body than garter snakes (Rossman et al., 1996).

There are 175 records in the project database.

GA AL WA FR CL MO HO BA BC HA CE PG AA CV CH SM KE QA CN TA DO WI SO WO 
An Eastern Garter Snake in Balttimore Co., Maryland (3/15/2014). Photo by Frode Jacobsen. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Worcester Co., Maryland (6/9/2013). Photo by Scott Housten. (MBP list)

Eastern Garter Snakes in Patapsco Valley SP, Maryland (4/6/2010). Photo by Richard Orr. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Carroll Co., Maryland (5/1/2013). Photo by Scott Housten. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Howard Co., Maryland (7/2/2013). Photo by Richard Orr. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Allegany Co., Maryland (5/12/2013). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (9/18/2009). Photo by Tyler Bell. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Allegany Co., Maryland (5/12/2013). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Frederick Co., Maryland (11/27/2011). Photo by Barbara Speckart. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Howard Co., Maryland (7/29/2011). Photo by Richard Orr. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Worcester Co., Maryland (6/9/2013). Photo by Scott Housten. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Baltimore City, Maryland (4/19/2015). Photo by Wendy Crowe. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Garrett Co., Maryland (6/9/2013). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (8/7/2013). Photo by Robert Aguilar, SERC. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Dorchester Co., Maryland (8/22/2015). Photo by Mark Etheridge. (MBP list) ( More of this species)

An Eastern Garter Snake with American Toad prey at Soldier's Delight NEA, Baltimore Co., Maryland (5/5/2012). Photo by Frode Jacobsen. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Harford Co., Maryland (4/29/2017). Photo by Cindy Pfeffer-Koerber. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland (5/23/2012). Photo by Lori Byrne. (MBP list)

This Eastern Garter Snake must have been an exciting find at Jemicy School in Baltimore Co., Maryland (9/2011). Photo by Emily Stanley. (MBP list)

An Eastern Garter Snake in Montgomery Co., Maryland (6/17/2017). Photo by Robert Aguilar, SERC. (MBP list)


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