Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

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tspuckler
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Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by tspuckler » July 12th, 2014, 6:35 am

These were all found this week within a 500 foot radius at a boardline that I have in NE Ohio. I've probably seen 50-60 individual garter snakes there (as well as a few Eastern Milks and DeKay's). The photos give an idea as to some of their different "looks."

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Richard F. Hoyer
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » July 12th, 2014, 9:03 am

tspuckler:
Am I correct in assuming all snake photos are of the Common Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis?

It is my understanding that this type of color polymorphism (if that is the correct terminology) occurs in a good number of species of snakes. For instance, here in western Oregon, a similar situation occurs with the Northwestern Garter Snake, Thamnophis ordinoides. Where one finds an aggregation of several to many specimens, few if any snakes are identical in basic ground color, striping, and blotching. It is as if you have come across a number of different species all together.

Further south along the coast of SW Oregon to central Calif., I believe a similar scenario occurs with the Wandering Garter Snake, Thamnophis elegans. Perhaps Dr. Sam Sweet would chime in with a more professional assessment. (See his post on a pattern variant in C. oreganus.)

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)

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tspuckler
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by tspuckler » July 12th, 2014, 9:12 am

Richard,

Yes, all the same subspecies of Common Garter Snake. I've found Coast Garter Snakes to be variable as well, but not within a specific spot, where there usually tends to be one or two "looks." And I agree that it occurs in a good number of snakes - yet it's still fun to document.

Tim

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John Williams
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by John Williams » July 12th, 2014, 9:57 am

That is one of the best pictures ever posted on this site. Fantastic.

luv_the_smellof_musk
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by luv_the_smellof_musk » July 12th, 2014, 11:01 am

Very cool. So many beautiful forms of garters with reds and blues being my favorites. If they weren't native to here and common, far more people would be obsessed with them lol

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Bostaff of Asclepius
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Bostaff of Asclepius » July 12th, 2014, 12:47 pm

My oh my, that photo is the stuff of dreams :crazyeyes:

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Tim Borski
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Tim Borski » July 12th, 2014, 5:38 pm

I dig the variations of Eastern Garters! Thanks for giving us a look.

Tim

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Don Becker
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Don Becker » July 12th, 2014, 7:52 pm

Some of those Garter Snakes look like Milk Snakes.

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TravisK
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by TravisK » July 13th, 2014, 7:14 am

That last picture looks like the herper equivalent of a jar full of jelly beans where we win something by guessing the correct number of snakes :shock: I think I might just pass out if I ever flip some AC and see that many snakes all at once. Very nice :thumb:

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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Zach_Lim » July 13th, 2014, 9:00 am

I really got to head out your way, Tim...

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mikem
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by mikem » July 15th, 2014, 9:36 am

TravisK wrote:That last picture looks like the herper equivalent of a jar full of jelly beans where we win something by guessing the correct number of snakes :shock: I think I might just pass out if I ever flip some AC and see that many snakes all at once. Very nice :thumb:
Haha, I'd probably have the same reaction! Love the garters! Thanks for sharing them with us :thumb:

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ZantiMissKnit
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by ZantiMissKnit » July 15th, 2014, 10:23 am

tspuckler wrote:Richard,

Yes, all the same subspecies of Common Garter Snake. I've found Coast Garter Snakes to be variable as well, but not within a specific spot, where there usually tends to be one or two "looks." And I agree that it occurs in a good number of snakes - yet it's still fun to document.

Tim

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I remember when this picture was going around Facebook, and it is no less spectacular now than it was then.

We have some amazing variations in Massachusetts as well:

ImageDSCN1364 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

ImageDSCN5628 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

ImageDSC_0033 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8515 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

ImageDisappearing dorsal stripe by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

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pjfishpa
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by pjfishpa » July 15th, 2014, 6:23 pm

Very cool post. I notice a wide variety in them over here as well. Hognose too. Great pics, thanks for putting this post together.

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David O
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by David O » July 18th, 2014, 9:43 am

Until I get access back to my ftp server, a link to my blog will have to do:

Garters from NW Ohio.

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ZantiMissKnit
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by ZantiMissKnit » July 18th, 2014, 10:26 am

Here is one of the very red garters from Oneida County, New York.

ImageDSCN2213 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

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Knightkrawler5
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Knightkrawler5 » July 23rd, 2014, 9:00 am

A Wisconsin Eastern

ImageEastern Garter Snake by beefstu6586, on Flickr

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ZantiMissKnit
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by ZantiMissKnit » July 23rd, 2014, 9:17 am

WHOA!!! That blue dorsal stripe!

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PsychedelicTarantula
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by PsychedelicTarantula » July 23rd, 2014, 11:41 am

This is an awesome thread. I'm a definitely a Thamnophis fan.

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Knightkrawler5
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Knightkrawler5 » July 23rd, 2014, 1:40 pm

West Tennessee Eastern

ImageEastern Garter Snake by beefstu6586, on Flickr

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Owen
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Owen » July 24th, 2014, 3:54 pm

Very cool post. Reminds me of the variation we have in the Coast Garters out here in the SF Bay Area.

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tspuckler
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by tspuckler » July 26th, 2014, 7:35 am

Here's one that I found in Ottawa County (OH) in May of this year.
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CrimsonCoils
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by CrimsonCoils » July 31st, 2014, 4:05 pm

New Jersey Pinelands -

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Southeast Pennsylvania -

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ZantiMissKnit
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by ZantiMissKnit » August 1st, 2014, 5:52 am

This is my favorite post of the summer. :thumb:

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AndyA1031
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by AndyA1031 » August 1st, 2014, 6:39 pm

This is one of the more interesting garter snakes I've seen- this is a brick-red individual found on the eastern shore of MD back in 2010.

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pjfishpa
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by pjfishpa » August 2nd, 2014, 6:00 am

Another melanistic one from NW Ohio.

T sirtalis (melanistic)
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Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » August 2nd, 2014, 6:21 am

From south Alabama, last year:
Imagegarter by Tamara McConnell1, on Flickr
Imagegarter in grass by Tamara McConnell1, on Flickr
Baby, from 2012:
Imagegarter by Tamara McConnell1, on Flickr

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Trey
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Trey » August 2nd, 2014, 1:02 pm

That orange one from bama is a stunner!

I am amazed by the amount of garters in (far) NE ohio. Everytime I am out/ up there, it seems like theres no way Im seeing less than 50 of them.

Kfen
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Kfen » August 2nd, 2014, 3:33 pm

This was a cool post, I love the variety. When I was a little kid and solely id'ing stuff from the pics in the Audubon field guide, I thought I was finding several species of garter snakes around my grandparents house in upstate NY. Only as I got older did I realize they were all the same.

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Noah M
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Noah M » August 4th, 2014, 5:05 pm

All three are Thamnophis sirtalis

Here is a blue one from the gulf coast down here
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Here is one from my garden in central Florida
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And here is another one from central FL with a more checkered pattern.

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Tim Borski
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Tim Borski » August 4th, 2014, 5:48 pm

OMG Tamara!! That first one orange one is the stuff!! Maybe I'll throw some up in a bit.
Tim

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Tim Borski
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Tim Borski » August 4th, 2014, 6:55 pm

Here's a few from the Midwest.



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Tim

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by BillMcGighan » August 5th, 2014, 5:26 am

All this diversity, especially of the eastern race, is great.

TB
That first one orange one is the stuff!!
I have to second that.


Tim, your 3rd is pretty impressive too!

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Noah M
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Noah M » August 5th, 2014, 5:55 am

I like the blue and yellow ones Tim put up towards the end of his post.

I almost forgot, I have an Indiana garter to share.

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PrimitiveTim
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by PrimitiveTim » August 5th, 2014, 8:39 am

This is a pretty typical garter from the east coast of central Florida.

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tspuckler
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by tspuckler » August 6th, 2014, 5:10 pm

Some spectacular stuff being posted here! This is my favorite out-of-state Eastern Garter Snake - from Union County, IL.
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Zach_Lim
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Zach_Lim » August 7th, 2014, 8:52 am

New favorite thread

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Mike VanValen
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Mike VanValen » August 7th, 2014, 9:41 am

I thought this guy had some nice colors. Fairfield County, CT.

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...and this one seemed to glow. Fairfield County, CT.

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Classic striped. Middlesex County, CT.

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Noah M
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Noah M » August 7th, 2014, 11:00 am

Seems like there are only a few colors they don't represent. So far I have seen:

Green
Yellow
Orange
Brown
Blue
Red
Black
Tan
Cream

If anybody has a purple one, then I think that about covers the available colors.

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jonathan
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by jonathan » January 17th, 2016, 12:25 am

Here's another Eastern a bit different from the ones posted. I would say, "Why isn't that a red-sided?", but all the maps say Eastern.

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ZantiMissKnit
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by ZantiMissKnit » January 19th, 2016, 5:58 am

Here's a stunner from PA that Kyle Loucks flipped last May.

ImageDSC_0044 by Andrea, on Flickr

John Williams
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by John Williams » January 19th, 2016, 7:12 am

A few coastal Texas animals

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intermedius
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by intermedius » January 20th, 2016, 11:44 am

Individual Sirtalis that I have found in Cape May County, NJ have a substantial amount of red. This might be due to residue tannin. Another Pine Barrens specimen that sadly slid away before I could photographed it was a gorgeous rusty red.

ImageEastern Garter Snake by Justin (NoNameKey), on Flickr

ImageEastern Garter Snake by Justin (NoNameKey), on Flickr

Specimens near my area in Mercer County, NJ can vary somewhat. Here are some that I have found underneath my board lines. Most of them are speckled with lots of spotting and large vertebral stripes. I rarely see garters with the classic black dorsum and yellow stripes pattern. A few Garter's I've had under my boards showed some substantial amounts of red or mahogany.

ImageEastern Gartersnakes by Justin (NoNameKey), on Flickr

ImageEastern Gartersnake by Justin (NoNameKey), on Flickr

ImageYearling Eastern Gartersnake by Justin (NoNameKey), on Flickr

Specimens I have found in Maryland seemed to have the same dominant color, but some seem to be more "spotty" than others.

ImageEastern Gartersnake by Justin (NoNameKey), on Flickr

ImageEastern Gartersnake by Justin (NoNameKey), on Flickr



There are also some interesting publications regarding Garter Snake polymorphism and color variation. Some populations that are melanistic seem to be Mendelian in their inheritance of color patterns. I haven't had the time to read all of these, but they all seem to be good reads. Mooi et al. (2011) is the newest and is pretty interesting.

Carpenter, C. C. 1954. The presence and variation of lateral red coloration in a population of common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis). Herpetologica 10:89–91.

Fitch, H. S. 1941. Geographic variation in garter snakes of the species Thamnophis sirtalis in the Pacific Coast region of North America. American Midland Naturalist 26:570–592.

King, R. B. 1988. Polymorphic populations of the garter snake Thamnophis sirtalis near Lake Erie. Herpetologica 44:451–458.

King, R. B. 2003. Mendelian inheritance of melanism in the garter snake Thamnophis sirtalis. Herpetologica 59:486–489.

Lawson, R. and R. B. King. 1996. Gene flow and melanism in Lake Erie garter snake populations. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 59:1–19.

Mooi, R. D., Wiens, J. P., & Casper, G. S. (2011). Extreme color variation within populations of the Common Gartersnake, Thamnophis sirtalis, in central North America, with implications for subspecies status. Copeia, 2011(2), 187-200.

Placyk, J. S., G. M. Burghardt, R. L. Small, R. B. King, G. S. Casper, and J. W. Robinson. 2007. Post-glacial recolonization of the Great Lakes region by the common gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) inferred from mtDNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 43:452–467.

Westphal, M. 2007. On the evolution of correlated color traits in Garter Snakes. Unpubl. Ph.D. diss., Oregon State University, Portland, Oregon.

Westphal, M. and T. Morgan. 2010. Quantitative genetics of pigmentation development in 2 populations of the Common Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis. Journal of Heredity 101:573–580.


Regardless, Garter Snakes are awesome. I myself am guilty of not appreciating them to their full level.

- Justin

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Trey
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by Trey » February 2nd, 2016, 10:52 am

Crappy picture of a nice one from Ohio

ImageT. sirtalis by Trey Keyes, on Flickr

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tspuckler
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Re: Color and Pattern Variations in Eastern Garter Snakes

Post by tspuckler » February 2nd, 2016, 1:57 pm

Here's a series from last summer of snakes from the very same spot as my original post:

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