The Eastern Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) is a common, mid-sized snake, usually between 18 - 28 inches long, though the record length is 49 inches. It is normally found near water, but is extremely adaptable as to habitat, including being tolerant of people and disturbance. This makes encounters with them not uncommon.
Gartersnakes are variable, but generally have stripes and some dark checkering to them. They look similar to their close cousins, Common Ribbonsnakes (Thamnophis sauritus) who are more slender, more closely tied to water, and have a white spot in front of their eyes. Gartersnakes not only lack this white spot, but are thicker and their lip scales are light colored, but separated from one another by dark vertical lines that border each scale's edges.
|Common Ribbonsnake, note the white spot in front of its eye.|
|Eastern Gartersnake, note the dark stripes between the scales on their jaws.|
Gartersnakes are some of our most cold tolerant snakes, often active when it's too cold for other snakes to be out. They are among the last snakes to go find dens and overwinter in a dormant state. Their diet consists of various small creatures: amphibians, occasional rodents, invertebrates, but their favorites are earthworms and fish. They don't like to climb trees, but are certainly capable of doing so if the need arises.