Porter, please keep us posted about what you find out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a "Thamnophis couchii porterii."
I'm no judge in these matters, as I'm a part-time community college English teacher, but I do think it's funny how variable garters can be. The coast garters in southern Santa Cruz Co. can be tricky to differentiate from Santa Cruz aquatic garters at a glance, as they can have no red at all, or at least very little. They tend to have much more red in the northern part of the county, although occasionally you get this:Coast Garter Snake, Thamnophis elegans terrestris
by J. Maughn
, on Flickr
This snake was...blue.
Anyway, I hope you have a new subspecies on your hands. Those are beautiful snakes you found. And I look forward to the inevitable fights about whether you should divulge the specific locality...
Haha cool, think I'm going for a Thamnophis couchii oliva though... JK Great looking snake man! I'm quite the fan of blue colored herps. Instant favorite for me
Have you found any others like this before?
Haha... "inevitable" sounds pretty accurate. I have told a couple people about the locale, but I haven't posted it on here. I'm going to keep it on a "need to know basis" until this thing is cleared up. I'll be honest, I'm kinda worried about jealous herpers going out there and messing with the location. I couldn't believe the negativity I was getting over this thing... I told Gary Nafis, whom I trust and I'm pretty sure I told Chad Lane (who I also trust) where I was heading to, the night before I found the snakes.
I did a little more reserch on the locale. I drove up there Saturday and spent the day thoroughly checking the area. Here's what I found:
Olive Sierra Garters with blue belly: 2
Olive Sierra Garters with blue mixed with little redish color belly: 5
Olive Sierra Garter with purple belly: 1
Mountain Gartersnakes: 9
Normal looking Sierra Garter Snakes: none
Originally, I found 2 blue bellies and 1 juvi with redish color. I was thinking the redish color might be something that fades with age, like Yellow-bellied Racers, Western skinks, ect... Now, I know it's just a variation between individuals, like the dorsal stripe (adult from the post's video has a more defined dorsal stripe than the patternless sub-adult and darker juvinile with more checkard pattern). One of the blue bellies I found on Saturday was a Juvi. All Sierra Gartersnakes had olive green ground color, brown eyes, and blue side/belly coloring. The ones with red coloration, had red mixed into the blue belly color. The more red each snake had, the more purple the belly looked. This didn't surprise me that much because the mountain Gartersnake I found (in the video and photographed in the post) also had a red/rusty colored belly. The red, I believe, is simpily mountain stream coloration found in snakes of higher elevation (better camouflage for mountain streams). The amount of red varried amoung each of the 9 idividual Mountain Garters, found on Saturday. I found no normal looking Sierra Gartersnakes. All were Olive and blue... or Olive and blue some red/rusty belly color as well.