Michigan State University masthead

Butler's Garter Snake

Butler's Garter Snake
Thamnophis butleri

Image of Butler's garter snakeDescription

A small black, brown, or olive snake with three distinct yellow stripes down the back and a yellowish belly. Some specimens have dark spots between the stripes. The dark head is very small.

Adult Length:

15 to 27 inches.

Habitat and Habits

Butler's Garter Snakes prefer moist meadows, marshes, and lake edges. They can be common in urban vacant lots where there are objects to hide under and lots of earthworms, a favorite food. When frightened, these snakes often wriggle rapidly back and forth with little forward motion.


Females produce litters of 4 to 19 babies in mid summer.

Range and Status

Locally common in the eastern and southern Lower Peninsula.


James Harding
MSU Museum
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 353-7978