Common Garter Snake
Photo by Bob Gress
Used by permission

Common Garter Snake
Thamnophis sirtalis
  • Size:   Length in Kansas up to 44 1/2 inches.

Kansas range map for the Common Garter Snake

Range:   Found throughout Kansas east of the High Plains; ranges west into the High Plains only along the aquatic corridors of river valleys.
  • Description:   Harmless. Keeled scales. Three yellow body stripes, those on each side of body situated on second and third scale rows (counting from belly up); pattern of black spots on a red background between the stripes on the back. Belly is white, greenish or gray, with a row of small dark spots along edges. Young look like miniature adults. Note: Snakes of this species from extreme southwestern Kansas (Comanche to Seward counties) may lack red color on the back between the dorsal and lateral stripes.
  • Habits:   Found in a wide variety of habitats, including marshes and wet meadows, margins of ponds, woodland and woodland edge, floodplains and cultivated fields; prefers areas with moderately moist vegetation. Active from March to November. Home range of 22–35 acres; estimated population density of three of these snakes per acre in northeast Kansas. Young born in late summer or fall; litters are large, varying from 4-85. Feeds chiefly on frogs and earthworms; occasionally eats toads, small mice and other small snakes.

Snake eating a frog
Common Garter Snake consuming an unlucky Plains Leopard Frog
Photo by Suzanne L. Collins
Used by permission

Other Kansas snakes with lengthwise stripes

Brown Snake Lined Snake
Graham's Crayfish Snake Plains Garter Snake
Western Ribbon Snake Western Worm Snake

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and what to do if you have been bitten by one.

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Snake's Burrow
Text: Joseph T. Collins & Suzanne L. Collins
Photos: Suzanne L. Collins & Bob Gress
Range Maps & Web Design: Jim Mason