Terrestrial Gartersnake

Photo: Dennis Paulson
Photo: Dennis Paulson

Thamnophis elegans

What they look like

  • Terrestrial Gartersnakes are medium sized snakes, generally reaching a maximum size of 43 inches.
  • Often the thicker of the three species, they have larger heads relative to their bodies than the common and Northwestern Gartersnakes.
  • Five subspecies are recognized across their distribution, but the one that occurs in Washington (Thamnophis elegans vagrans) is usually uniformly brown or grey with two alternating rows of black spots between their often yellow dorsal and lateral stripes.
  • Completely black and patternless individuals have been found.

All About Amphibians

Name: Terrestrial Gartersnake (Thamnophis elegans)
Order: Snakes (Squamata)
Family: Common Snakes (Colubridae)

Fast Facts

What they eat

  • Terrestrial Gartersnakes can eat a very wide range of animals, including slugs, worms, snails, leeches, tadpoles, frogs, mice, fish, lizards, small birds, and even other snakes.

Cool biology facts

  • Studies of Vancouver Island populations of the Terrestrial, Common, and Northwestern Gartersnakes have shown that the relative abundances of Terrestrial and Northwestern Gartersnakes are negatively correlated, possibly due to predation on Northwestern Gartersnakes by Terrestrial Gartersnakes.
small brown salamander on bright green vegetation

Amphibians & Reptiles of Washington

Do you know where rattlesnakes live in our state? Or which salamander breathes through its skin? Explore the fascinating diversity of the 26 species of amphibians and 28 reptiles found in Washington state.