A younger and more reckless me used to say ‘garden snake’ when I meant ‘garter snake’. What’s the different between a garden snake and a garter snake? There is no recognized group of snakes called garden snakes. A garden snake is any ole snake you might find in your garden – be it a corn snake, a milk snake or a deadly black mambe. A garter snake is a group of snakes belonging to the genus Thamnophis. How did my older, more considerate self remember the difference? I thought of a snake wearing a garter belt to hold up its stockings. Well, stocking. The most common garter snake is the eastern garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis. It is harmless and only likes to eat frogs, tadpoles, and insects – not people who can’t remember its name.
Here is a garter snake in Williamsburg, Virginia, that surprised me while I was hunting frogs outside of Jamestown Pies while I waited for my pizza to cook (frog hunting is an activity of opportunity).
And here is one from Newbury, Massachusetts, that emerge just as spring was happening. It was still cool and he let me lay inches from him and take his picture. I made sure to get his good side.