SOUTH COAST GARTER SNAKE
Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis
Adults of this species measure 18 - 55 inches in length (46 - 140 cm), but the average size is under 36 inches (91 cm).
A medium-sized snake with a head barely wider than the neck and keeled dorsal scales.
There are red bars alternating with the ground color along the sides above the lateral stripes. The head is red or orangish. The underside is bluish gray, sometimes very blue north of the Bay Area (shown above) and may have some dark coloring. The eyes are relatively larged compared with other gartersnake species.
Primarily active during daylight. A good swimmer. Often escapes into water when threatened. When first handled, typical of gartersnakes, this snake often releases cloacal contents and musk, and strikes. The species T. sirtalis is capable of activity at lower temperatures than other species of North American snake.
Eats a wide variety of prey, including amphibians and their larvae, fish, birds, and their eggs, small mammals, reptiles, earthworms, slugs, and leeches. This snake is able to eat adult Pacific newts (Taricha) which are deadly poisonous to most predators.
There are generally far more males than females which is why, during mating season, they form “mating balls,” where one or two females will be completely swamped by ten or more males. Sometimes a male snake will mate with a female before hibernation and the female will store the sperm internally until spring, when she will allow her eggs to be fertilized. If she mates again in the spring, the fall sperm will degenerate, and the spring sperm will fertilize her eggs. The females may give birth ovoviviparously to 12 to 40 young from July through October.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Northwestern Garter Snake
Corn Snake or Red Rat Snake - Blood Red Morph