Eastern Gartersnake Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (Linnaeus, 1758)  

Status:

Eastern Gartersnake (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 Gartersnake occurs in every Maryland county, and is generally common to abundant (Maryland DNR).

Description:

This widespread snake species is generally distinctive in Maryland. The conspecific Eastern Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis s. saurita) is superficially similar, also showing dark and light longitudinal lines like T. sirtalis. T. saurita 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 Gartersnake typically shows some dark markings at the scale borders. Ribbonsnakes have a proportionately longer tail, and a more slender body than garter snakes (Rossman et al., 1996).

There are 221 records in the project database.

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An Eastern Gartersnake in Balttimore Co., Maryland (3/15/2014). Photo by Frode Jacobsen. (MBP list)

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

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

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

An Eastern Gartersnake in Calvert Co., Maryland (10/7/2018). Photo by Ben Springer. (MBP list)

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

An Eastern Gartersnake in Calvert Co., Maryland (10/7/2018). Photo by Ben Springer. (MBP list)

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

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

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

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

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

An Eastern Gartersnake in Montgomery Co., Maryland (11/3/2017). Photo by Justin Lee. (MBP list)

An Eastern Gartersnake in Wicomico Co., Maryland (8/4/2014). Photo by Scott Housten. (MBP list)

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

An Eastern Gartersnake preying on a Southern Leopard Frog in Calvert Co., Maryland (11/6/2016). Photo by Ben Springer. (MBP list)

An Eastern Gartersnake in Baltimore Co., Maryland (4/23/2017). Photo by Matthew Beziat. (MBP list)

An Eastern Gartersnake in Kent Co., Maryland (4/16/2018). Photo by Matt Redman. (MBP list)


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