Common Gartersnake - Thamnophis sirtalis


*The colored areas of the map above represent parishes with currently known records for the given species
 (Source: Jeff Boundy, LA Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries). By no means does it represent the full range of the species in the state, nor does it necessarily mean that a species can be found throughout the parish with the record. This is provided as a guide to where you might be able to find these species in the state and to aid in identification. A descriptive explanation of the range of each species can be found in the text below.

Other Common Names: 

Subspecies: Only the Eastern Gartersnake, Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis, occurs within Louisiana.


Garter Ribbon Compare LARE

Similar Species:  Common Gartersnakes have lateral stripes on the second and third scale row whereas the two species of Ribbonsnakes in Louisiana have lateral stripes on the third and fourth scale row. In addition Common Gartersnakes have a relatively shorter tail than Ribbonsnakes and typically posses black bars on the posterior labial (lip) scales whereas Ribbonsnakes have raltively longer tails and typically have unmarked labial scales. In addition the preocular creamy spot is typically more prominent in the Ribbonsnakes than the Common Gartersnake. In the small area of the eastern Florida Parishes where the Eastern Ribbonsnake overlaps the range of the Western Ribbonsnake, the two species can be told apart by examining the top of the head and the area where the dorsal scales meet the ventral scales. Typically Eastern Ribbonsnakes either lack parietal spots completely or they are much reduced compared to the bold marks typical of Western Ribbonsnakes. Also, Eastern Ribbonsnakes typically have a brownish tinge to the edges of the ventral scales where they meet the dorsal scares whereas the ventral scales are typically immaculate in Western Ribbonsnakes.

Species Range: 

Louisiana Range:  Nearly statewide, but uncommon in southwest Louisiana and westernmost parishes.


Natural History: 

Best Time and Place to Observe:

Global Conservation Status:  Common Gartersnakes are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. Their NatureServe Global Conservation Status Rank is G5 (Secure).

Federal Conservation Status:  None

Louisiana Conservation Status:  Common Gartersnakes do not have any special status in Louisiana.

Author's Remarks: Based on experiences in other states, I have surprisingly found very few individuals of this species in the state. I have observed one individual from the Atchafalaya Basin north of I-10, another from Hammond (Tangipahoa Parish), one from EBR, one from Black Bayou Lake NWR (Ouachita Parish), one from Tickfaw State Park (Livingston Parish), two at Chicot State Park (Evangeline Parish), and two at Fontainebleau State Park (St. Tammany Parish).

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