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Plains and Common Garter Snake

(Thamnophis radix/sirtalis)

There are two species of Garter Snakes found at Saint John's Arboretun. Both species are black or dark gray with yellow stripes following along the length of the body in adults, and blue stripes in juveniles. These are the most common snake species in Minnesota.
The Plains Garter Snake has dark vertical bars along the edges of the scales on the upper lip, while the Common Garter Snake has a uniform yellow upper lip. Garter Snakes can be found almost anywhere, but they are often seen hiding under wood or debris in dry, sandy areas or crawling through prairie grass or wetland plants in search of food. Like Minnesota's Red Bellied Snake and Timber Rattler, Garter Snakes give live birth to young encased in a thin, clear membrane. Yearlings are generally 10-13 cm in length, while adults can exceed 90 cm (~3 ft). Most specimens are 1-2 feet long. Breeding occurs in early spring, with individual females often surrounded by many male snakes at one time.

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