Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mountain Garter Snake

The mountain garter snake is a subspecies of the western terrestrial garter snake. It is found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, northern California, except the outer coast ranges, and into southern Oregon. There is also an isolated population in the San Bernardino Mountains, which is where I found the one below. I found it under a log near the Heart Bar Campground.

One of the distinguishing characteristics is three well defined stripes that are either yellow, orange or white: one down the middle and one down each side. The closeup, below, shows the three stripes. This particular snake had yellow stripes. Between the stripes they are black to dark gray-brown and also often checkered with scattered white flecks.

As with most garter snakes I've caught, they will often strike and empty their cloacal contents.

Another close-up giving a better view of the three stripes.

They have a very wide appetite and will eat amphibians, lizards, snakes, fish, mice, snails, worms, leeches and slugs. Garter snakes are among my least favorite snakes, perhaps because they do empty the cloacal contents when caught, tend to bite, and also like a wet habitat.

1 comment:

  1. May have seen one in the dry granite foothills of the New Mexican Sangre de Christo mountains. White and black and very fast. ???