I am not a big reptile person and usually ignore them. However a couple days ago Leonard and I were walking in Ash Creek Wildlife Area near Lookout CA (Modoc County) when we came upon this western terrestrial garter snake (Thamnophis elegans). It was about 4 feet long. What caught my attention was that it remained immobile with its head in the air. The snake looked so cute (if a snake can look “cute”) with its erect head I HAD to take a few pictures.
Once I downloaded the photographs I realized an opportunity to study some garter snake external characteristics. There are over 75 species and subspecies of garter snakes found from southern Alaska through Canada and the United States and into Mexico and Central America. Garter snakes are identified by the location or absence of lateral lines or stripes, the number and location of upper labial scales and the shape of internasal scales, among other traits.
Western terrestrial garter snakes have 8 upper labial scales (the row of scales directly below the eye), upper labial scales number 6 and 7 (counting from the front) are enlarged and are often higher than wide and two of the upper labial scales touch the eye. The number of rows of scales at midbody (19 – 21), the shape of the internasal scales and the location of the lateral and median lines are not easily discerned in this picture.
More information on western terrestrial garter snakes is available in my 10-16-2011 post entitled “Western Terrestrial Garter Snake”.
I just liked this little guy! Gal?