Tiny common garter snake

Common garter snake (Squamata: Colubridae: Thamnophis sirtalis) photographed 11/02/2011 near Clayton Michigan.

I often come across common garter snakes (SquamataColubridaeThamnophis sirtalis) here in southeast Michigan.  Today I was intrigued, however, by this particularly tiny individual.  I stuck a quarter next to his head for scale, and that seemed to arouse his suspicion as he cast a wary eye and flicked his tongue inquisitively.

Common garter snake (Squamata: Colubridae: Thamnophis sirtalis) photographed 11/02/2011 near Clayton Michigan.

These snakes breed in the spring and bear live young in the late summer, so this little guy must have been a juvenile.  He was only about 20 cm (7.9 inches) long, but full-grown adults reach 46 to 137 cm (18 to 54 inches) (Zimmerman 2002).

Common garter snake (Squamata: Colubridae: Thamnophis sirtalis) photographed 11/02/2011 near Clayton Michigan.

Although they usually have three bright yellow stripes running down their length, common garters are highly variable in coloration (Zimmerman 2002).  This snake exhibited a particularly drab, brown-tan coloration.  The typically bright stripes were a dull orange color on this individual.

This reptile was taking advantage of the early autumn sun heating some shale walkway stones for warmth.  With winter right around the corner, he was probably also looking for a warm cozy spot to overwinter.

Literature cited:

Zimmerman, R. 2002. Thamnophis sirtalis.  Animal Diversity Web.  University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Vertebrate Zoology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Tiny common garter snake

  1. Asthmatic Duck says:

    When I first saw the first pic of the snake I thought it was fake then I saw the second pic and I realized it wasn’t. My bad.

    Like

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