08 November 2009

Garter snake in C&O Canal


Last Friday, I was watching a couple of mallards swimming in the C&O Canal near Georgetown. Suddenly, a long, skinny object appeared in the water and started undulating rapidly towards the bank. I gazed at it in amazement for a few seconds before my brain circuitry announced that it was a snake. By the time I finished fumbling with my bag and managed to take my camera out, it had left the water and disappeared. Then I spotted it among the mud covered leaves climbing up the bank (I turned the picture sideways to make it fit the page better). Two shots were all I could take before it disappeared again, this time below the cliff I was standing on.

This is a garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). In the original post I had identified it as a ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus). However, one commenter indicated that it was instead a garter snake (see below). After I obtained confirmation from another source, I revised the post.

1 comment:

Aleta Karstad said...

It looks more like a brightly striped Garter Snake. The Ribbon Snake has a white scale in front of the eye, and the chestnut stripe below the pale lateral stripe is higher up the side in the Ribbon Snake (lower on the Garter Snake, which is what it looks like here). Also it is not as solid and rich a chestnut brown as on the Ribbon Snake.

Aleta (not a snake expert, but a special fan of Ribbon Snakes - keep looking!)