Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)
Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
Photo of Common Gartersnake courtesy of John White
18 - 26 inches. Record - 48¾ inches.
- 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
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
Distribution in Maryland: