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Snake ID, Michigan

Posted by chuckr30 (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 3, 07 at 8:49

SW Michigan. This snake is calm and friendly, about 20 inches long. It has a rounded head and round pupils. It prefers to run away and not fight. Anyone know what it is? It just doesn't look like any picture of a garter snake I've seen. Found near a stream about 6 feet wide.

Juvenile queen snake maybe?

Here is a link that might be useful: Michigan snake


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Snake ID, Michigan

Any chance of a top view? I've found garters seem to change color patterns from month to month. Butler's is in Michigan I think. Unless I'm way off, I'd narrow it to an Eastern or a Butler's, or Northern Ribbon, or one that just squeezed through a freshly painted red fence. ;)


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RE: Snake ID, Michigan

I have no other photos, just another blurry side view. Sorry.


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RE: Snake ID, Michigan

There is a ribbon snake with a red stripe, but it runs down the center of their back. I would do a search under "red sided garter snake". I think you'll find what you're looking for there. Good luck.


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RE: Snake ID, Michigan

Aha, I think I found it. I was thinking Red Sided but then thought they were only in CA. Then I happened upon (Thamnophis sirtalis concinnus) Red-spotted Garter snake. What do you think?


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RE: Snake ID, Michigan

Red spots are too small on my snake to be a Red Spotted. However I did find a closer match with the Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi, aka "Valley Garter Snake" or "Western Yellow Bellied Racer". However the name suggests they are only in the western US.

See link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi


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RE: Snake ID, Michigan

Wow, goregous colors near the belly!

It is an aberrant Eastern Garter Snake. The Eastern Garter Snake shows tremendous variation in pattern even within a single geographic region and the reddish coloring Eastern Garters while uncommon do seem to appear from time to time, especially in the western part of the Eastern Garter Snake's range (Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Western Kentucky, Arkansas etc.).

I've seen about three similar to the one above in Illinois (while I have seen many many more normal phased snakes).

Red-Sided, Valley, and some of the western forms of garter snakes that have red on them as a regular part of their pattern are in the same species as Eastern Garter Snakes but a different subspecies. Seems over time the west favored color morphs that had red on them and eventually that mutation which is still an aberration in eastern snakes became the norm.


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RE: Snake ID, Michigan match

I think I found a match. This site has the only pictures of a garter snake which are not a clear black with yellow stripes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Common garter snake


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