Valley Garter Snake

A snake is barely visible in dead vegetation

The valley garter snake is one of six reptile species and the largest species found in the park.

NPS

Scientific Name

Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi

Identification

  • Subspecies of the common garter snake.
  • Medium sized snake up to 34 inches long.
  • Nearly black background color with three bright stripes running the length of the body; underside is pale yellow or bluish gray.
  • Most distinguishing characteristics of this subspecies in our region are the irregular red spots along the sides.

Habitat

  • Thought to be common in the past, now in decline for no apparent reason.
  • Closely associated with permanent surface water.
  • In Yellowstone area, observed only in the Falls River drainage in the Bechler region and three miles south of the south entrance along the Snake River.

Behavior

  • Generally active during the day.
  • In the Yellowstone area, it eats mostly toads, chorus frogs, fish remains, and earthworms; can eat relatively poisonous species.
  • Predators include fish, birds, and carnivorous mammals.
 

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