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5 Species of Garter Snakes in Texas (Pictures)

There are many different types of habitats in Texas, but piney woods, savannahs, gulf prairies, and marshes are some of the most common. These habitats make it possible for the garter snakes in Texas to thrive, as they have plenty of areas.

Even though there are more than 30 species of garter snakes, only a few of them live in the state. This article will give you a peek at some of these species and help you understand what makes each one different.

Collage photo garter snakes in Texas

What garter snake species are in Texas?

The state of Texas is home to five different species of garter snakes, including the Common Garter Snake, the Texas Garter Snake, the Blackneck Garter Snake, the Checkered Garter Snake, and the Plains Garter Snake. 

The majority of the time, you can find these snakes close to bodies of water like streams, rivers, and ponds. These animals are also carnivores and eat frogs, toads, worms, mollusks, amphibians, small birds, rodents, and fish.

They’re completely harmless, and some people even consider them to be helpful to gardeners because of the insects and other pests they consume. It was previously believed that garter snakes didn’t have any venom, but recent research suggests that they may in fact have a very mild venom that’s totally non-toxic to people.

The 5 Garter snakes in Texas

1. Black-necked garter snake

Black-necked garter snake
Black-necked garter snake | image by ALAN SCHMIERER via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis cyrtopsis

The blackneck garter snake is a species of garter snake found in the southwestern United States, including the state of Texas. They can be found in a wide variety of environments, but the ones they frequent the most are desert scrub, grasslands, chaparral, and woodland environments that are located near water. When these animals become aware that they’re in danger, the very first thing that they do is make an attempt to escape through the water.

Adult Blackneck garter snakes can reach a maximum length of 28 inches and can be recognized by their dark olive color with an orange-yellow stripe at their backs. The stripe on their sides can be any one of three colors: cream, tan, or yellow.

2. Checkered garter snake

Checkered garter snake
Checkered garter snake | image by Ashley Wahlberg (Tubbs) via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis marcianus

The checkered garter snake is a type of garter snake that’s greenish in color and has black checkerboard patterns on its back, which both males and females have. They’re typically solitary animals that are active during the day, but they have been known to hibernate in groups of up to a hundred.

The checkered garter snake can be found in various habitats across their range, from wetlands to drylands, but they’re most commonly found near water sources such as lakes or rivers. They like to hide under rocks or other cover objects that provide protection from direct sunlight so that they can maintain a comfortable body temperature during the hot summer days.

3. Plains garter snake

Plains garter snake
Plains garter snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis radix 

The plains garter snake is a long and slender species of snake that’s known to be one of the most cold-tolerant snakes. You can find it in the most northern part of Texas. These animals are capable of emerging from hibernation during sunny winter days to bask in the sun.

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Like other garter snakes, they possess mild venom, but this venom poses no threat to humans. They primarily use them to stun their prey, such as insects, frogs, and fish, before devouring them whole.

4. Texas garter snake

Texas garter snake
Texas garter snake | image by Dawson at English Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.5
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis annectens

The Texas garter snake is a subspecies of the common garter snake that’s native to the state of Texas and, more specifically, the central part of the state. Despite having the state’s name, this snake isn’t particularly common there, but you’ll see them living in or near water.

These slender creatures have a greenish-black body with a stripe of bright orange or red running down the middle, with outer edges that are pale yellow in color. These animals will usually not bite when handled, but they’ll make frantic attempts to escape by flailing about wildly.

5. Common garter snake

Common garter snake
Common garter snake | image by Greg Schechter via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis

The Common garter snakes are one of the most common snakes in North America. Their range goes from Florida to coastal Quebec and up to the less dry parts of the southwest. However, you won’t find any of these snakes in the dry regions of the southwestern United States.

The stripes on these animals’ bodies can be a variety of colors, including white, yellow, blue, greenish-blue, and brown. They reach maturity in the third year and have the potential to grow to a length of four feet. These species hibernate in natural cavities or burrows such as rodent burrows, crayfish burrows, under rock piles, or in stumps during the cold winter months.

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About Louise Robles

Louise writes about a wide variety of topics including wildlife, animals, and nature. She's developed a growing interest in animal biology and categorization due to her fascination with how they interact with one another and with their surroundings.