Northwestern Garter Snake
The Northwestern Garter Snake is perfectly at home at Beaver Willows. Proximity to the Glencoe Swale wetland provides the preferred habitat of this species: damp areas with lots of vegetation and open sunny areas.
The two snakes featured in this post were found in places where these critters like to hangout- near houses and also often found when moving boards, logs, or other object used for cover.
There are four kinds of garter snakes found in Oregon. The identifying characteristics for the Northwestern Garter Snake
- Coloration is nightly variable. Individuals can be blackish, olive, brownish, bluish, or gray, sometimes with a reddish tint.
- There are typically threes stripes- one down the back and one down each side.
- The color of these stripes can be red, yellow, orange, tan, white, greenish, or blue; however, on certain snakes, the stripes may be dull, narrow, or absent!
- Adults average between 12 and 24 inches in length.
I know the species is terrestrial, however, I was surprised to fine out the can swim. Some have been observed hunting in the water. Normally, they feed on slugs and earthworms, snails, and small amphibians.
The Northwestern Garter Snake flees into dense vegetation if disturbed. I was intrigued to read about a study that found individuals with stripes usually move away quickly because their stripes make it difficult for predators to determine their speed. But plain or spotted individuals frequently freeze while fleeing because their excellent camouflage helps them blend in while they’re motionless.