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Do garter snakes change color?

Posted by caliloo (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 20, 06 at 8:47

I saw a good sized garter snake in my front garden on and off all spring. I think it was blackish with yellow/white stripes running along it's body. I'll be honest, I am a little nervous around snakes so I didn't get too close. I believe in keeping a respectful distance LOL!

Anyway, I hadn't seen it in a while and this morning I saw a snake that seemed several inches longer, but it was brown and tan with a sort of diamond pattern on it. Again, I did not get too close, but this one was definitely a med brown with lighter tan/cream markings and bigger - maybe 24 - 30 inches.

Is this the same snake with a different color in the summer or has something else moved into my garden? Could this one have eaten the little black and yellow one? Do I need to have it relocated/removed since I have small kids (toddler up to 8 yo) for their safety? I wouldn't be too concerned, but this one had crawled out of the garden and was sunning on my front steps. I think it took 10 years off my life just seeing it there LOL!

THanks for any help!


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Do garter snakes change color?


Good question. Snakes can have a somewhat different appearance depending on how recently they have shed and can even vary slightly based on issues related to body temperature/surrounding area surface temperature. Both of your snakes sound like pattern variants of the Eastern Garter Snake. I think the most likely explanation, however, is that they are two separate individual snakes. Both sound like Eastern Garter Snakes so no worries.

RE: Do garter snakes change color?

Okay, then I will start breathing again LOL!

Would they share the same space in the garden peacefully? Maybe "garden" is too strong a word... it is more of a small planting bed (10 x 10 or so) next to my front steps. I guess I'm just surprised they can find enough food/water to support both of them in such a small place.

Thanks for the info you have already provided!


RE: Do garter snakes change color?

Snakes seem to get along well together. They appeared there for a reason, let's face it, so it's obviously good habitat for them. As for living peacefully together, sure they can. I lifted the tarp off one of my compost piles a couple weeks ago and there were two milk snakes and a group of 3-4 garter snakes, all close enough to one another to be touching. They spend the nights and cool morning hours under the tarp, no doubt for warmth. -jp

RE: Do garter snakes change color?

Snakes seem to be around areas where there are frogs. That has been my experience. Do you have frogs, like tree frogs, at your house? At my last house, we were not near a stream, but we had lots of tree frogs, and the occasional snake.

At a park there are occasional frogs (that we saw go plop in the water when we walked by) and we found 4 snakes in 30 minutes!

At my present house I have never seen a frog (occasional toads, about 1 per year) and I have never seen a snake.

RE: Do garter snakes change color?

The second snake your seeing sound like it might be a Fox Snake or some other species of rat snake, and they specialize in eating rodents. So if taht is indeed what you saw, be glad he's there, because he's eating whatever rodents are around your house that attracted him. Rat Snakes are harmless to people but may coil in a defensive position if they feel threatened, but they can't really hurt you.

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