San Francisco Garter Snake Animal of the Week Picture of the Day
The San Francisco Garter Snake is my next Animal of the Week.
Who would’ve thought you’d see a garter snake here? Well, the San Francisco Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) is a slender multi-colored subspecies of the Common Garter Snake. It is endemic to San Mateo County and the extreme northern part of coastal Santa Cruz County in California. Some researchers estimate that there are only 1,000 to 2,000 adult snakes of the subspecies T. s. tetrataenia remaining, however, the full extent of the snakes habitat has not been fully documented and many snakes may utilize creeks and other waterways that are currently unexplored. This garter snake prefers wet and marshy areas and is elusive to see or capture.
It is difficult to obtain reliable distribution information and population statistics for the San Francisco garter snake, because of the elusive nature of this reptile and the fact that much of the remaining suitable habitat is located on private property that has not been surveyed for the presence of the snake. This subspecies is extremely shy, difficult to locate and capture, and quick to flee to water or cover when disturbed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has stated that many locations that previously had healthy populations of garter snakes are now in decline due to land development pressure and the filling of wetlands in San Mateo County over the last sixty years.
Adult snakes sometimes estivate (enter a dormant state) in rodent burrows during Fall and Spring. Along the Pacific Ocean coast, snakes hibernate during the winter, but further inland, if the weather is suitable, this species is known to be active year-round. Recent studies have documented San Francisco garter snake movement over several hundred meters from wetlands to hibernate in upland small mammal burrows.
The San Francisco garter snake mates in the spring or autumn, and the females give birth to live young in June through September, numbering up to two dozen, but averaging about 16 offspring. The young are approximately 12 to 18 centimeters in length and mature in two years time.
The environmental elements impacting this snake include loss of habitat from agricultural, commercial and urban development as well as collection by reptile fanciers and breeders.Collection of these endangered animals by private citizens remains illegal.
Conservation status: Endangered
Photo by vabbley
Little known fact, Garter Snakes evolved from douchebags.