Common Gartersnake

Thamnophis sirtalis


Common Gartersnakes exist in a large range in the United States, and can be found throughout the state. They are medium-sized, black or brown with yellow stripes on the back. Striping may be creamy to white, and evidence of checkering may be present in individual morphology. This species is less aquatic than the ribbon snake, and is often absent where ribbons are common.Their habitat consist of a variety of places including woodlands, urban areas, grasslands, wetlands, pinewoods, and prairies (Powell et al., 2016). Lateral lines are lower than on other similar-looking species on 2nd and 3rd scales. Labial barring is more evident than on ribbon snakes.

Stunning Gartersnake with high amounts of orange and a bright red stripe in a classic defensive posture, Livingston Par. (LA),

Identifying Traits

  • Lateral line on 2nd and 3rd scale from ventral (separates from ribbon snakes)
  • Bolder labial barring

Subspecies Present:

Eastern Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)


Woodlands, grasslands, pine savannas, urban parks and yards



Overwinters in large hibernacula with dozens of other members of its species (not in southern extents of its range)


Various invertebrates, fish, frogs, small snakes

“Piney woods phase” gartersnake with reduced striping and more checkering, Stone Co. (MS)
Piney woods phase with very little striping, Stone Co. (MS)
Closeup of head (Stone Co. (MS)