Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Garter Snakes

The common garter snake is common, the most common and widespread reptile in our region. Yet, despite its commonness it is a snake and a reptile and that is still pretty cool.

A common garter snake basks in the sun on a bed of dried grass.

The garter snake is variable in color and attitude, sometimes being fairly docile and other times more aggressive if handled. This garter snake let us get close, without much reaction. I think the snake was just happy that the sun was shining.

My niece called it the gardener snake; seems like we usually find them in or near gardens and the snake is a good gardener, eating garden pests, so a good name.

These pictures were taken at Winterberry Farm in Western Massachusetts last week. Now that I am back in coastal New Hampshire, the rain continues. I think we are up to 8+ inches for the month of June, 3x times the average.

Given the gloomy weather here, it is nice to think of this snake basking under a warm sun (apparently the sun is still shining at Winterberry Farm).

The common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) typically is blackish with three light yellow stripes on its back or dorsum -- one down the center and one along each side. The females give birth to 14-40 live young (being "viviparous") between July and September. Many of our snakes are viviparous, but some such as the racer, smooth green snake, and milk snake lay eggs.

Bring on the sun and the garter snakes.

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