Animals > Snakes > California Red Sided Garter

California Red Sided Garter

California Red Sided Garter
Thamnophis Sirtalisi Infernali- Photo by: Marshal Hedin

Scientific Classification

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:     Chordata
Subphylum:     Vertebrata
Class:      Reptilia
Order:        Squamata
Suborder:        Serpentes
Family:       Colubridae
Subfamily:       Natricinae
Genus:       Thamnophis


If you are looking for the most beautiful and strikingly colorful garter snakes,  the California Red Sided Garter Snake  could be just the snakes for you. These snakes belong to the subspecies Thamnophis Sirtalis Infernalis. This remarkable Red sided Garter snake inhabits a narrow corridor in the Californian coast.  You can see three species of Thamnophis sirtalis in California. They are;

Thamnophis Sirtalis Tetrataenia (otherwise called San Fransisco (garter) snakes)

Thamnophis Sirtalis Fitchi and

Thamnophis Sirtalisi Infernalis.

These snakes possess a host of names. The California (red-Sided) Garter snake is also called, (blue striped),  (Blue Stripe), (Chicago), (eastern), (maritime), (New Mexico), (Puget Sound) (red sided), (red-spotted), (San Francisco) (Texas) and (Valley) garter snake.

Anatomy

California Red Sided Garter
Thamnophis Sirtalis Tetrataenia

The females are larger than the males. The attain an overall length of 100 centimeters while  the males are about 75 cms. The males are also more slender.

California (red-sided) garters possess blue or yellow stripes. They exhibit red color between the stripes with black spots in double rows. Some of the snakes have  prominent red blotches coinciding with  the lateral stripes. In other specimens, a  red color reaches the stripes on the dorsal side. In others, black spots in the upper row appear to melt together, thereby forming a single black stripe that borders the stripe dorsally. You can easily distinguish between the California and San Franciscan Garter Snakes because  In the  case of San Franciscans, the blotches of red  appear as a stripe without  the red or the  black blotches interrupting. In the case of Californian Garters, the blotches tend to  interrupt the stripes all over. The top of the head is a  striking red. They have  a wider range,  and exhibit much color and pattern diversity  .

There is a great variance in the quantum of blue and red. The Californian and San Franciscan  garters have the highest amounts of red.

Behavior

These garter snakes are active during the day.  They are good swimmers and frequently escape into the water, when they feel threatened. Compared to other North American species, the Californian Garters  are active at lower temperatures. When disturbed, this  snake might coil up its body and strike. At the same time, they will hide their heads and flail their tails. They will also discharge a stinking, musky secretion. These are the techniques they use to escape from predators.

Habitat

The California red-sided garter Snake (Sirtalis Infernalis) is endemic (confined) to California. They range from Humboldt county, along the coast (most of San Francisco peninsula excluded), east of the bay of San Francisco to San Diego County, along the central and southern coasts. The snakes from Santa Clara might prove to be a new species. At present, however, they are grouped with S. Infernalis.

They inhabit a variety of habitats that include forests, grasslands, mixed woodlands, farmlands and chaparral. You can often find them near streams, ponds or marshes.

As a Pet

Breeding

The mating season of the species is in the spring and maybe, autumn. They give birth to baby snakes.

Housing

California Red Sided Garter
Thamnophis Sirtalis Fitchi - Photo by: Vincent Abbley

The snakes are  diurnal. They bask under the sun lamp of the terrarium either on the ground or on  a branch. The maximum temperature can be 35degreeC. Provide them with a  dry terrarium and  a bowl of water. You can feed them fish (dead), and give them  Vitamin B1 as a supplement.

The juveniles also take worms. You can also get them accustomed to eat  baby mice. Hibernation of two to four months can be permitted in moist substrates, at low temperatures ranging from  4 to 8 degree C. The snakes will benefit from the hibernation.

For or an adult snake pair, a  terrarium of size  60  cms Length x 50 cms  Width x 50 cms, .Height,  will suit ideally.

Food

The California red-sided garter snake feeds on a wide range  of prey. Larvae, amphibians, fish, eggs, fish, eggs, birds, reptiles, small mammals, leeches, earthworms and slugs, make up their diet.  These snakes, even consume the highly poisonous Pacific newts without any ill effects. In captivity, they subsist on fish, tadpoles and small mice.

Handling

The initial handling of the snake can be a problem as they will strike and  discharge malodorous, musky cloacal secretions.



















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