Michigan State University masthead

Eastern Garter Snake

Eastern Garter Snake
Thamnophis sirtalis

Image of eastern garter snakeDescription

A medium-sized striped snake with variable coloration. Most are gray, brown, or greenish with three yellowish stripes down the back, and there may be black spots between the stripes, making the snake look "checkered". The belly is pale white, green, or yellow. The tongue is red with a black tip.

Adult Length:

2 to 4 feet.

Habitat and Habits

Eastern Garter Snakes are found almost everywhere‚ÄĒin fields, marshes, woods, parks, and backyards. They feed on earthworms, frogs, toads, tadpoles, fish, and small mammals. Like many snakes, they release a foul musky odor when threatened or handled.


From 6 to 50 young are born alive in mid to late summer.

Range and Status

This species is the most common snake throughout Michigan.


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