Ribbon Snake Conservation - Least Concern
Scientific Name
Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
All of Virginia
Also Called
Eastern Gartersnake, Grass Snake
Yellow, Green, or Brown with a Yellow or White Stripe
Amphibians, Slugs, Worms
Litter Size
9 - 57 Live Young per Birth
Life Span
10 Years
18 - 26 Inches

Quick Links for Eastern Garter Snake

Eastern Garter Snake

Eastern Garter Snake Description

Eastern Garter Snake Appearance

This snake, is a greenish, olive, brown or black snake with a yellow or white stripe. Between the stripes the scales have a checkerboard coloration to them. Their belly tends to be a cream or greenish yellow in color.


This snake is normally between 18 – 26 inches long, the longest recorded here in Virginia is 43.3 inches long. The largest recorded was 48.7 inches long.

Juveniles tend to be more than 6 – 8 inches long.

Eastern Garter Snake in a Bird feeder

This snake is also Virginia’s State Snake.

Eastern Garter Snake Behavior

These snakes are active during the day, and can be seen on the ground more than on trees.

These snakes are solitary creatures and only show up with other snakes during hibernation or when mating. When that happens hundred can appear in the den, or when mating into a ball.

They are rather docile, and they rarely bite even when handled. But rarely their bite can cause allergic reactions, so be careful when handling them.

It is illegal in Virginia to keep Wild Snakes as pets

Range and Habitat of The Eastern Garter Snake


These snakes can be found everywhere here in Virginia.

In the rest of the United States, they can be found everywhere east of the Mississippi, and appears as far south as Miami, Florida and as far north as Canada.


They can live pretty much anywhere in Virginia. But their preferred habitat are meadows, marshes, forests, and hills. They are often found near water such as lakes, streams, pools, and suburban areas with lots of cover.

Eastern Garter Snake Map Range

They are present in every county here in Virginia


They like to eat Amphibians such as frogs and toads, but they also like to eat slugs, worms, small fish, small mammals, and eggs. These snakes tend to eat anything they can overpower.

Reproduction and Young


Mating for these snakes occurs in the spring immediately after hibernation. These snakes will mate in large groups with everyone forming a large “mating ball”. Afterwards the female will give birth in 2-3 months to 9 to 57 live young.

Eggs and Young

Garter snakes do not lay eggs but gives live births. Once the snakelets are born they will be immediately independent, and will be mature in 1.5 years.
Juveniles at birth will be 5 to 9 inches long.
Eastern Garter Snake Juvenile

Juvenile garter snakes will have the same color and patterns as adults.

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