Aquatic garter snake

Thamnophis atratus

Although garter snakes are found across the United States, aquatic garter snakes are only found in the coastal regions of California north of Santa Barbara and southern Oregon.

They eat fish, salamanders, toads, and newts.  Garter snakes do not have venom, nor do they constrict to subdue prey.  Instead, they quickly grab prey by mouth and gulp it down whole!  In shallow water, aquatic garter snakes will encircle prey with their body and then strike as they try to escape.

These snakes are oviviparous—the females incubate their shell-less eggs internally, and the babies hatch as she lays the eggs.  Aquatic garter snakes have smaller litters (only 3 to 12 young) than other species but often can have several litters a year.

Our garter snake was admitted to our wildlife hospital in 2007 after being caught in a grate. She needed two surgeries, including a special skin graft, to repair the injury.  Although the snake recovered, she cannot properly expand to eat larger wild food items, such as toads, her typical prey in the wild.  Here at Lindsay Wildlife, keepers feed her smaller food items more often to accommodate her injury.