Garter Snake Living at LNC
Nature Center admits dozens of snakes each year into our
wildlife rehabilitation hospital; one of the most common species
is the Eastern Garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis).
You can imagine our surprise when a very young albino Garter
snake, injured by a weed eater, was brought to us. The staff
administered medications and the snake soon began to thrive.
Because of the low survival rate in albino snakes (or any
albino animal), the decision was made to permanently house the animal
at Lakeside where it will be used for education programs and a
Melanin is the
substance in our skin that gives it the dark color, and snakes
that lack this dark pigment are said to be amelaninistic. It is
a recessive genetic trait passed down from parents that are
normally heterozygous (they have the gene but they look normal).
If both parents had the hidden gene, the odds are
that out of a
group of four babies; one would be an amelanistic, two would
have the gene but look normal, and one would look normal and not
have the gene. The occurrence of amelanism is rare in the wild
as the odds of compatible pair meeting, mating, successfully
reproducing and the off-spring surviving is low. In captivity
this gene is more often expressed and that is how there can be
many different variations of the same species.
are one of the most common species found in the United States.
Adults reach about 2 feet in length and feed on amphibians,
invertebrates and, sometimes, other snakes. They are most often
found near bodies of water; however they will venture into other
habitats as long as food and shelter are available. Breeding
occurs in the spring with the babies being born alive in the
late summer or early fall. The average litter size is 12 but as
many as 103 have been produced from one mother.
Article by LNC Naturalist Richard Kupronis;
Photo by FOLNC Volunteer Deborah