people think of garter snakes as commonplace animals, they have a unique biology that
makes them able to thrive in so many different environments. Listed below are some neat
little factoids that may help explain some of the more interesting qualities of garter
snake life and behavior.
snakes, garter snakes do not lay eggs! They give birth to live young in individual egg
yolk sacs which are broken immediately after birth.
Garter snakes are
technically not venemous, however their saliva does contain chemicals which can sometimes
cause allergic reactions in a very small amount of people.
digest their food with the help of e.coli bacteria, so -as is the practice with all
reptiles- be sure to wash your hands after handling your animals!
You cannot tell
how old a snake is based on how many times it has shed. Shedding is a product of growth
which is based on nutrition and health, not neccessarily of age.
smell?! Have you ever handled a garter snake only to notice an acrid smell left behind?
What your snake has done is called musking. Much like a skunk will spray a predator to get
them to stop hunting it, a snake will musk in the hopes that the smell will distract a
predator. The smell fades rather quickly, but it takes several washings with soap to get
it out right away.
Many people think
that snakes have no skeleton, much like an earthworm. Snakes have a very intricate
skeleton consisting of very flexible vertebrae, and a huge number of ribs! The bones of
the skull are also not fused together, allowing the snake to unhinge its jaw and distort
its skull to swallow large prey items. This delicate skeleton makes them prone to
permanent mobility problems if bones are broken, especially the backbones.
typically mate immediately after coming out of brumation in the springtime. In the
northeast US and southeast Canada, the 'mating balls' that form around snake dens attract
tourists every year, and it is illegal for most people to collect snakes from such
In order to
prevent masses of snakes from streaming across roadways after they emerge from brumation,
several special concrete 'snake tunnels' have been built under roadways in the
Think you can
change your snake's bad behavior by scolding it? Think again. Like all snakes, garters
have no ears! They sense the approach of threatening objects by feeling vibrations in the
ground with their long bodies, instead of hearing them. This is why many pet stores
encourage you not to tap on the glass of their snake tanks.