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Mention of Florida’s Garter Snakes by Richard Bartlett on 2021-08-30 00:42:00


This is a young adult of the brown-checkered phase of the Eastern Garter Snake.

It was perhaps a year, or possibly 2 years, ago that Jake and I began to notice that in North Central Florida we were no longer seeing garter snakes. This was strange because in one form or another, one color or another, one subspecies or another, garter snakes were one snake that we had always counted on seeing.

We looked most for the Eastern Garter Snake, T. s. sirtalis, and often on a normal drive we’d see a couple. Today (midJune 2021) we feel lucky if we see one at all.

Dr. Sam Sweet, who is conducting rat snake studies along FL’s “Nature Coast”, has told me that the Blue Striped Garter Snake, T. sirtalis similis, remains relatively common in his study area.

On the other hand Jake and I (or I alone) have seen only a single Eastern Garter Snake in the last year. The actuality of this paucity was brought home to me when earlier this year I started a serious search for a specific color phase in ncFL. This is a brown, checkered, phase. I had photographed this color phase about 5 years ago when we saw one on almost every trip but wished now to take new photos. But now, after couple of thousand miles of driving and poking about, I have seen only one and it was a DOR example. Is the reduction in sightings real or contrived?

Seems the only solution is to keep looking, racking up the mileage, and hoping to see a garter snake population resurgence. In the meantime here are a few old pix.
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