Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Backyard Nature Wednesday: Texas Garter Snake

One of the fairly anonymous but very useful residents of my backyard is an adult Texas Garter Snake. The snake is seldom seen. I discovered him earlier this year when I was standing near one of my flower beds and looked down to see this seemingly large and very well-fed snake about to slither its way past my feet.

Was I startled? You bet! But I managed to stand my ground without jumping out of my skin and indeed the snake did slither past and continued on toward the woodpile at the back of the garden. I suspect that is where he spends most of his time.

Image of Texas Garter Snake courtesy of the Southwestern Center for Herpetological Research.

These snakes generally range in size from 18 - 25 inches but can grow up to 42 inches long. My snake is definitely longer than 25 inches. I estimated it at about three feet long and, as I mentioned above, it appeared to be a well-fed animal. The natural food of garter snakes includes frogs, toads, salamanders, fish, tadpoles and earthworms. They also are known to sometimes take small mammals, birds, and even carrion. There would certainly be plenty of amphibians and smaller reptiles in my yard for a garter snake to make his regular meals.

Texas Garter Snakes, and garter snakes generally, are completely harmless. They are not aggressive, although they may strike if cornered, as nearly any wild animal will. They are a terrestrial species that ranges primarily over Eastern and Central Texas. They are uncommon everywhere they are found and are almost never seen in large numbers. They can live in many different types of habitats, but typically they will be found close to a water source. They are often seen in stream-side vegetation or in damp soil near bodies of water.

If you are lucky enough to have a garter snake residing in your yard, please be tolerant of him. He is your friend and ally.  


  1. Replies
    1. Unfortunately, that's the reaction of a lot of people, Carmen. Education is the answer to overcoming our long-ingrained fear of snakes. They really are the most inoffensive creatures and they play an important role in the ecosystem. I'm glad to have mine around.

  2. I find snakes fascinating, although I probably would have jumped a mile had one slithered that close to me! Many of my neighbors are vehemently anti-snake and decapitate any and all that they see, sadly.

    1. It's really sad that so many people are so prejudiced against snakes. And for absolutely no good reason. Human beings are indeed a strange species.