Checkered Garter Snake, juvenile

 (Thamnophis marcianus marcianus) Harmless, Inoffensive, Beneficial--Found in a pool in Austin, Texas -- 22 Mar 2007

Photos courtesy of Richard D;

The checkered garter snake, like most snakes, loves a good bath from time to time.  Consequently, it isn't unusual to find one swimming in ponds or swimming pools in our urban landscapes, the way Richard found this snake.  The checkered garter is suited to dry environments, even more than most of its cousins, so if you find one far from water, don't be surprised.

The snake's spinal stripe is characteristically thin and, at this stage in development, is frequently interrupted by adjacent dark spots that cross over the spine.  As the snake ages these interruptions will be reduced, probably to the point that few or none will be noted in the mature snake.

All garter snakes have dark markings on their kip scales, as this one does, which distinguishes them from the ribbon snakes of the same genus (whose lips are unmarked).  The checkered garter also has a vertical crescent of bright yellow, edged in black, that extends from the distal mouthline upward, toward the top of the head.

Another bright yellow mark precedes and follows the eye.

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