Mountain Garter Snake, Huckleberry Lake, Emigrant Wilderness 2014

18 - 43 inches in length (46 - 109 cm).

A medium-sized slender snake with a head barely wider than the neck and keeled dorsal scales.

Color and Pattern

  • Ground color is a dark olive-brown or black with no red markings
  • There are 3 well-defined light stripes on the back and sides:
  • The dorsal stripe is yellow, orange, or white.
  • The lateral stripes may be paler. Underside is pale with few markings, and is sometimes darker in the center.

Life History and Behavior
Active in daylight. Chiefly terrestrial - not as dependant on water as other gartersnake species, but more likely to be found near water.

If frightened when picked up, this snake will often strike repeatedly and release cloacal contents. When frightened, this species will sometimes seek refuge in vegetation or ground cover, but it will also crawl quickly into water and swim away from trouble.

Diet and Feeding
Terrestrial gartersnakes eat a wide range of prey (among the widest of any snake species), including amphibians and their larvae, fish, birds, mice, lizards, snakes, worms, leeches, slugs, and snails. At high elevations in the Sierra Nevada, Mountain Gartersnakes rely almost exclusively on amphibians for food, mostly Sierran Treefrogs.

Breeds primarily in spring, with young born live July - Sepember.

Elevational Range
The species Thamnophis elegans - Western Terrestrial Gartersnake, occurs from sea level to 13,100 ft. (3,990 m) in elevation in Colorado. (Stebbins, 2003)

Inhabits streamsides, springs, mountain lakes, in grassland, meadows, brush, woodland, and coniferous forest.


Range Map

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