Is a Checkered Garter snake poisonous?

The Checkered garter snake or Checkered gartersnake (Thamnophis marcianus) is a colubrid mildly venomous snake species located in the northeast United States southwards into Mexico and Central America as far south as Costa Rica. It is among the several species of a garter snake.

Their range extends from the southwestern United States including Texas and southeastern California, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and southern Kansas and southern Arizona.

They are also located in northern and central Mexico with several disjunct populations located via southern and central Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica. They are found at elevations from sea level up to 7200 feet (2200 m) high.

The checkered garter snake can be found in a variety of habitats across its range from temperate and semiarid areas and even slopes in California into grassland savanna, woods and moist forests in Costa Rica.

These snakes are usually found not very far from water such as rivers, streams and ponds, springs, swamps, marshes, flooded areas, and irrigation ditches and canals. Sometimes the water supply isn’t visible above ground.

What time of day are garter snakes most active?

They are active during the day from the regions of their scope but may become nocturnal in the south east west to escape the hot temperatures during the day. The garter snakes are great swimmers and might even dip when disturbed, to escape.

They will also bite but leave only tiny bite marks that are superficial when handled they will excrete a foul smelling musk on its own aggressors.

The checkered garter snake has large black blotches forming their distinctive checkerboard ​pattern over its typically tan, brown, olive or greenish body. Between the rows of checkers around the back and sides, there are 3 white or yellow stripes, one in the middle and 2 on either side.

There’s a large black blotch on each side of the mind placed behind two yellowish or crescents reaching on the corner of their mouth. Occasionally although their stomach is normally pale in color with no markings is blotched with black stains.

Checkered garter snake

How big do checkered garter snakes get?

All these are medium-sized snakes reaching 43 inches (slightly over 1 m) in optimum span, but on average they hit approximately 28 inches (71 cm). Their head isn’t much wider and distinct from the neck. They have keeled scales and also an undivided dish.

The garter snake is a pet sold in the reptile pet trade and snake, they are considered very sturdy in captivity. The species can also be consumed in captivity with a few type being generated.

Is a checkered garter snake poisonous?

Like garter snake species they have toxins in their spit with effects very similar to snake venom. They’re considered harmless and not dangerous to people, although their sting can make a response in people.

Comparable to some other garter snake species like California Red-Sided gartersnake it needs to”chew” on the victim, or so the venom is delivered to the bloodstream. Contrary to other venomous snakes like the pit vipers capable of injecting venom very deep into the prey using their hollow and long fangs.

What do checkered garter snakes eat?

Checkered garter snakes feed on various creatures including small mammals, frogs, toads, tadpoles, salamanders, lizards, other snakes, earthworms, crayfish, fish, and even insects.

They will eat carrion from the roadway kill. They will actively attempt to find prey.


The gartersnake is a live-bearing snake or viviparous. The gestation period generally lasts between 80 and 105 days.

Females give birth to live young in the spring or summer months from May to October. Typically, a clutch averages approximately 6 to 2 younglings but it could be as high as 35. The snakes are 8 or 9 inches long at birth.


Listed as”Least Concern” because these snakes are widely dispersed and relatively common at least in the northern part of its range. Back in North America, there aren’t any major threats to this Checkered Garter Snake, however they are listed as endangered in Kansas.

But, subpopulations sound in southern Mexico and also Central America are threatened by habitat reduction for agriculture with the usage of pesticides resulting in declining amphibian populations these snakes feed on.

As a result of this, the species is becoming less common, and its distribution fragmented and disjunct in southern Mexico and Central America.


Baird and Girard described the species in 1853. The species-specific epithet,”marcianus” awarded in honor of the American Brigadier General Randolph B. Marcy, who at the mid 19th century directed surveying expeditions to the frontier.

There are just three subspecies currently known for the garter snake.

Northern Checkered Garter Snake (Thamnophis marcianus marcianus – Baird & Girard, 1853) – Located in the united states and northern Mexico. This subspecies can be found in the pet trade and is referred to, having the albino morph being very popular.

Nicaraguan Checkered Garter Snake (Thamnophis marcianus bovallii – Dunn, 1940) – Located just in Nicaragua.

Yucatan Checkered Garter Snake (Thamnophis marcianus praeocularis – Bocourt, 1892) – This subspecies if found on the in Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and Yucatan Peninsula.

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