The Eastern Garter Snake
Aren't these guys just beautiful! The Eastern Garter snakes in Massachusetts are typically recognized by their beautiful yellow/orange striping along their bodies. These snakes typically live in marshes, fields, forests, and yes, your own back backyards. You may find them seeking cover in wood piles and shrubs. The Eastern Garter snake is a typically small to medium sized snake that feeds mainly on amphibians, earthworms, and most importantly mice! If you have a mice problem and spot one of these little guys don't be alarmed, they are there to help you out! So if you see one of these beautiful snakes: Don't worry they are 100% harmless, and are more likely to musk on you than bite you , but it's best to just leave them be, and if you find these guys in your backyard, congratulations you have your very own scaly mice exterminator!
Did you know?
-There a multiple species of Garter Snakes with the same pattern but variations of color, the Californian Red Sided Garter Snake for example, has these gorgeous blue and red stripes along their bodies.
-Unlike many reptiles Garter Snakes are ovoviviparous, meaning they don't lay eggs! These snakes give birth to live young.
-While many tend to call them "Garden Snakes" because you may see them in your garden, they are in fact named Garter Snakes, after clothing garters for their beautifully colored striped pattern.
The Northern Water Snake
Now these guys tend to get a bit bigger than the Garter and may seem a little more intimidating but don't worry, like the Garter snake, they are harmless! These snakes are however more likely to strike when felt cornered or threatened so it is always best to leave them be. The Northern Water Snake is recognized by their varying shades of gray, tan or brown patterns this coloration helps them hide from predatory birds by blending into the dark murky waters they reside in. Many people may mistake these guys for copperheads, but unless you're in the Blue Hills, there's no need to worry! These guys are NOT Venomous. These snakes reside in a variety of aquatic habitats and enjoy basking on sunny rocks and edges of old beaver damns. You'll typically find them around lakes, ponds and marshes. Their diet mainly consists of amphibians and fish.
Did you know?
- The Northern Water snake may look different on land than in water. As the scales dry, the colors appear more uniform and it can be harder to see the snake’s color pattern.
- While these species is considered stable they do face habitat loss as well as people killing them due to misidentification. Many people mistake these snakes for the venomous copperheads, the Northern Water Snake however, is not venomous.
If you've read this far, here are some bonus facts about snakes and the species that reside in Massachusetts!
- Snakes are venomous, not poisonous, what's the difference? Venom is injected via bites or stings (Example: Copperhead), while Poisonous animals unload toxins as they're being eaten (Example: Poison Dart Frog).
-There are only 2 types of venomous snakes in Massachusetts, the Northern Copperhead, and the Timber Rattle Snake. These snakes are considered endangered in Massachusetts. There are very few currently established population of these snakes, most of which reside in the Blue Hills, where they are protected. So unless you live in the Blue Hills you don't need to worry much about these guys showing up in your backyard, and if you do see them please contact MassWildlife and let them know! As an endangered species they are protected and it is illegal to kill, harass or own these snakes.
For more information on Massachusetts wildlife please check out
I hope this post has cleared up some things in regards to snakes that reside in our environment. As always please respect our wildlife. These snakes are not here to harm you, just leave them be and let them live their best slithery lives. After all, as with all wildlife, this was their home first. ❤️