Thamnophis radix
Eastern Plains Garter Snake
(Thamnophis radix)
Photograph: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Interesting facts:
Instead of striking and biting an aggressor, this snake may expel musk and fecal matter consisting of digested earthworms.

The eastern plains garter snake is a medium-sized (to 40 inches long), slender snake. It can be identified by its three light stripes that run the length of its body. The basic color of the body is brown; the dorsal (back) stripe is yellow-orange; the side stripes are yellowish-gray.

Habitat and behavior:
The easter plains garter snake occurs in grassy areas such as vacant lots, abandoned fields, meadows, pastures, and suburban lawns. It is common to see them near towns. This snake is diurnal (active during the day). From 10 to 70 young are born alive in a litter in late summer or early fall. They hibernate in winter, using mammal burrows and other places below the frost line.

This garter snake eats earthworms, fish, amphibians, mice, birds' eggs, and dead animals.

Distribution and status:
In the United States, the eastern plain garter snake is found from Montana east to Wisconsin, and extends south to the Texas panhandle and east to central Missouri. In Illinois it occurs in the northeast quarter of the state. An isolated colony may exist in the Jersey and Madison County area in southwest Illinois.