Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

Description: A medium sized striped snake with variable coloration. Most are gray, brown, or greenish with three yellowish stripes down the back, and there may be black spots between the stripes, making the snake look "checkered". The belly is pale white, green, or yellow. The tongue is red with a black tip. Adult length: 2 to 4 feet.

Eastern Garter Snake
Photo © Jim Harding

Habitat and Habits: These snakes are found almost everywhere in fields, marshes, woods, parks, and backyards. They feed on earthworms, frogs, toads, tadpoles, fish, and small mammals. Like many snakes, they release a musky smelling anal secretion when threatened or handled.

Reproduction: From 6 to 50 young are born in mid to late summer. They are 5 to 9 inches long and colored like the adults.

Range and Status: This species is the most common Michigan snake. They inhabit both peninsulas and survive even in urban areas.

Related Documents
Eastern Garter Snake Occurrences Map PDF icon