Western Aquatic Garter Snake

Western Aquatic Garter Snake

COMMON NAME: Western Aquatic Garter Snake
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Thamnophis couchii

DESCRIPTION:
This species defends itself by retreating into the water but if captured it will writhe about and smear its captor with musk and fecal matter and may attempt to bite. The dorsum (back) varies from olive brown to black with three light stripes. The dorsal stripe is very faint and sometimes absent. The underside is usually a greenish-gray. The scales are keeled. The tongue is red. The sierra garter snake may grow to be 18 to 48 inches in length.

LIFE HISTORY:
This is a ovoviviparous snake. It mates in the spring and has 7 to 25 young in the summer or early fall. Its young are about 5 inches at birth. It may live up to 8 years.

ECOLOGY:
Niche: As a nonconstrictor, it swallows its prey whole and alive. This species eats fish, fish eggs, frogs, toads, salamanders, amphibian larvae, earthworms, and leeches.

Habitat: Primarily an aquatic snake, it lives in areas with permanent rivers, rocky streams or lakes. Primarily diurnal it may be found from sea level to 8,000 feet in foothills and into higher mountains.

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