The colder weather and accompanying snow this past week has slowed down the activity of cold-blooded creatures. This little garter snake was found cuddled up under a rock in the mint garden.
It wasn’t moving very quickly, so I was able to pick it up and place it in a container for closer observation. Over the years, my sons captured numerous snakes under the rocks in our yard. We’ve also come across garter snakes in the woods and among the wild rose bushes. Last year I almost stepped on one that was sunning itself on the front steps.
Garter snakes are known to make good pets. One year, we kept a large garter in a terrarium over the summer months. They do give off a scent after a period in captivity so it was eventually released back into the wild.
Garter snakes are ovoviviparous, meaning that a mother carries the eggs internally but offspring emerge live with no sign of the shell at birth. Garters are independent of their mothers as soon as they’re born. One of my neighbors would frequently dig into a mass of newly born garters while working in her garden. In northern areas, garters will also congregate in a massive ball with other snakes prior to hibernation.
Garters are mildly venomous. My youngest son was bitten by them as a boy with no adverse effects.
These snakes are the most widely distributed reptiles in North America, likely due to the fact that they’re not picky eaters. Worms, amphibians, mice, young birds, bugs, fish and eggs are all acceptable fare.