Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)


Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

 

Photo of Common Gartersnake courtesy of John White
Photo of Common Gartersnake courtesy of John White

 


Former Name:
Eastern Gartersnake​

Size:
18 - 26 inches. Record - 48¾ inches.

Appearance:
  • The back is greenish, olive, brown or black with a distinct yellow or white stripe down the centerline.
  • There may also be a white to yellow stripe on either side of the centerline stripe, though less distinct, and the area between these stripes is often a checkerboard pattern of blackish and green spots.
  • Sometimes the stripes are absent, and only the spotting remains.
  • The belly is cream to yellowish green and generally unmarked except there may be some dark spots on the edge of the belly scales.
  • Scales keeled.
Close-up Photo of Common Gartersnake courtesy of Corey Wickliffe 
Close-up Photo of Common Gartersnake courtesy of Corey Wickliffe

 


Habitats:

Common in a variety of habitats including forests, meadows, old fields, riparian areas, freshwater marshes, ditches and backyards. Some source of moisture is usually nearby.


How to Find:

Spend enough time in the outdoors and you will encounter this common diurnal snake. Look particularly along wetland edges. A fairly aggressive snake, they readily strike and bite. If handled they will release a foul smelling musk. Non-venomous, though a few allergic reactions to bites have been reported.

Photo of Habitat for Common Gartersnake courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
Photo of Habitat for Common Gartersnake courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers


Distribution in Maryland:

Statewide.

Common Gartersnake - Distribution in Maryland