Florida is a state known for its diverse and unique ecosystems, from the Everglades to the sandy beaches of the panhandle. Its warm climate and abundant water sources create a habitat that’s ideal for a wide variety of wildlife, including several species of garter snakes. This article will focus on garter snakes in Florida, which can be found in a variety of habitats in the state, from urban and suburban backyards to marshes and swamps.
What are the garter snakes found in Florida?
The Common Garter snake and the Eastern Ribbon Snake are the two species of garter snakes that can be found in Florida. Within these two species, there are three subspecies of garter snakes: the blue-striped garter snake, the Southern ribbon snake, and the bluestripe ribbon snake. These are the species we’re looking at in this list.
You can find these slender animals in a wide variety of habitats, but they’re most commonly discovered in or near bodies of water, where they can be seen feeding on a variety of amphibians, such as frogs, toads, and salamanders, as well as earthworms, mice, small fish, slugs, and insects.
5 Garter snakes in Florida
1. Common garter snake
- Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis
The common garter snake is a slender species of snake that can reach a maximum length of about 4 feet. They also have a pattern of yellow stripes on a background that’s either black, brown, or green; however, some common garter snakes can also have a color that’s green, blue, red, orange, or gold.
Common garter snakes can be found in a variety of habitats across the state of Florida, including pine forests, hardwood hammocks, cypress strands, prairies, and open grassy areas near water. These snakes are carnivores and hunt their prey during the day. Some of the animals that they consume include frogs, toads, fish, and earthworms.
2. Blue-striped garter snake
- Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis similis
The Blue-striped garter snake is a subspecies of the common garter snake that you can find across the state of Florida, but it’s most prevalent in the Big Bend region of Florida’s Gulf Coast. They live in the same environments and share the same characteristics as common garter snakes, with the exception that these blue-striped garter snakes have bluish side stripes rather than a yellowish or whitish one.
These animals aren’t aggressive and will try to flee or vibrate the tip of their tail to mimic rattlesnakes. However, if they’re cornered and have no other option, they’ll bite.
3. Eastern ribbon snake
- Scientific Name: Thamnophis sauritus sauritus
Another species of garter snake native to the southeast region of the United States is called the Eastern ribbon snake. Pinelands, hardwood hammocks, cypress strands, prairies, marshes, bogs, and any other wet grassy habitats in Florida are home to this species, with the exception of the Middle Keys. The name “ribbon snake” comes from the animal’s characteristically slender body, which can reach a maximum length of 39 inches.
They also look a lot like common garter snakes, with bodies that are dark, and they have three light-colored stripes. However, these animals are much thinner, and their tails are about one-third of their body length.
4. Southern ribbon snake
- Scientific Name: Thamnophis saurita sackenii
One of the subspecies of ribbon snakes that live in Florida is the Southern ribbon snake, also called the Florida ribbon snake or the Peninsula ribbon snake. This slender creature has a tendency to be smaller than other subspecies of ribbon snakes, and they’re the only species of striped snake that can be found in the Florida Keys.
In contrast to other ribbon snakes, this particular animal doesn’t hibernate and remains active throughout the entire year.
5. Bluestripe ribbon snake
- Scientific Name: Thamnophis sauritus nitae
There is a subspecies of ribbon snakes known as the bluestripe ribbon snake that lives along the Gulf coast in the northwestern peninsular part of Florida. The “bluestripe” subspecies of ribbon snakes are distinguished from other ribbon snakes by a back stripe that’s lighter than the rest of the snake’s body and the stripes on their sides that are bluish in color.
Adults can reach a length of up to 25 inches in length, are most active during the day, and are usually found in lakes, rivers, and slow-moving streams.