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Reptiles of Washington

Valley gartersnake
(Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi)


What they look like

  • Most valley gartersnakes are less than 36 inches long, although they can be from 18 to 55 inches long.
  • Their upper side is brown, grey, or black, with three light yellow stripes along the length of their body. Single rows of red spots may be between the stripes.
  • Their underside is bluish gray.

Where they live

  • Valley gartersnakes can be found from northern California all the way to southern Alaska, also including Idaho, western Nevada, western Montana, western Wyoming, and north-central Utah.
  • Can adapt to a wide range of habitats, including mixed woodlands, grassland, forests, chaparral, and farmlands, although they tend to be near marshes, ponds, or streams.  

What they eat

  • Can eat many different kinds of animals, including amphibians, earthworms, fish, birds, lizards, slugs, and leeches.


  • Between late July and October, females give live birth to 12 to 40 young.

Cool Biology Facts

  • Unlike most other predators, valley gartersnakes are capable of eating deadly poisonous adult pacific newts (Taricha).


Distribution Map


Common gartersnakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) are considered “least concern” due to their extremely large distribution and large stable populations.