Common Garter snake

Thamnophis sirtalis

The Common Garter snake is one of the the most common and familiar snakes in North America. They are found throughout the U.S.

Garter Snakes are marked with three light stripes on a dark body, although patterns can vary. Stripes are usually yellow, but can be shades of blue, green, or brown.  They are small snakes, with adults ranging in size between 18 and 26 inches in length, but can measure up to 42 inches long.

The Garter Snake us successful due to its opportunistic nature to both habitat use and food habits. The snake uses a variety of habitats, such as deciduous forests; forest edges; fields; swamps; bogs; stream, river, and pond edges; hedgerows; overgrown lawns; and grassy areas. Snakes are often seen basking on wood piles, stone walls, hedges, and rocks.

Garter Snakes feed on a variety of small animals such as frogs, toads, earthworms, mice and spiders. These snakes typically eat during the day, but can also be active during sunrise and sunset. They are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young. They can live up to 10 years and are extremely cold resistant.  When threatened, they can emit a foul musk odor.

Our Current Resident

Ginger, Female - Born 2019 (estimate)

Ginger came to ZooMontana as a pet surrender. She is very agile and can often be seen climbing to the very top of her habitat.  


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Thamnophis
  • Species: T. sirtalis

Animal Facts

  • Carnivore: Will eat a variety of prey items
  • Population: Stable
  • Habitat: Most common at low elevations near water
  • Crepuscular: Most active during sunrise and sunset

Our Animals