Monday, June 23, 2014

Wildlife Quiz - Garter Snake

The common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) gets its name from their resemblance to the garters men once wore to hold up their socks. Of the nine species of snakes found in Maine, the garter snake happens to be the most abundant. Garter snakes populate a wide variety of habitats, including islands, mountains, gardens and even suburbia.

Their prolific nature stems from their ability to feed upon a highly wide array of creatures including; earthworms, slugs, frogs, mice, birds and fish. In addition, garter snakes possess the ability to birth live young, meaning they do not have to lay and incubate eggs that could potentially be eaten by predators. Garter snakes use rodent burrows, wood piles and rock walls as dens for shelter and protection from predators.

During winter, snakes hibernate to prevent death by freezing. These places of winter refuge or “hibernaculum” may be singular shelters or areas shared with several other snakes. In spring, garter snakes emerge from hibernation and shortly after begin looking for mates. Young hatch throughout a majority of the summer season and can fend for themselves almost immediately after hatching, reaching maturity in approximately three years.

Most garter snakes grow to two or three feet and maintain extremely variable appearances, ranging in color from bright yellow, green and blue to more muted earth toned animals with limited coloration. In captivity, garter snakes have lived as long as 18 years. Though incapable of inflicting a venomous bite, like all wild animals, snakes should be observed from a distance and allowed to live out their existence unmolested by humans. If disturbed, garter snakes will excrete a foul smelling anal secretion on their presumed attacker.

1. Where did the garter snake get its name?
2. How many species of snakes are their in Maine?
3. Do garter snakes lay eggs or live birth their young?
4. Do snakes hibernate in the winter?
5. What is the name for a snake’s winter refuge?
6. How long can a garter snake grow?
7. How long after hatching does a garter snake reach maturity?
8. How long can a garter snake live?
9. Are garter snakes venomous?

1. The garter snake got its name for its resemblance to the garters men once wore to hold up their socks. 2. There are nine species of snakes found in Maine.
3. Garter snakes live birth their young.
4. Yes, snakes hibernate in the winter to prevent death by freezing.
5. A snake’s winter refuge is known as a hibernaculum.
6. Garter snakes can grow up to two to three feet in length.
7. A garter snake reaches maturity in approximately three years.
8. In captivity garter snakes have been know to live as long as 18 years.
9. No, garter snakes are not venomous but will secrete a foul smelling secretion on their attachers.

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