Thursday, March 4, 2010

CA red-sided garter snake ~ 03/04/10 ~ Fort Ord

California red-sided garter snake
Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis
(ssp. of common garter snake)

Do snakes go stiff after they've died? Because this one was still fairly soft except where there's a big kink, likely from being run over by a mountain bike. We found it on a bridge over a small stream. I'm making a guess as to subspecies.

Yes, this location is Fort Ord, not Carmel Valley Road. We stopped here on our way home from our long drive of looking for wildflowers.

ps 07/16/11 - I originally posted this as a coast garter snake (Thamnophis elegans terrestris) Nope. The red head should have been my clue. I've corrected the ID above.

pss 07/23/11 - I've been in e-mail exchanges with John of WildHerps about garter snake ID. He was kind enough to send me a link to HumboldtHerps and the continuing discussion of intergrades in areas where different garter snake species are known to exist. CA red-sided (T. sirtalis infernalis) may not always have a red head and may be a cross with valley (T. sirtalis fitchi). And, if that wasn't confusing enough, while the snake pictured above is definitely CA red-sided, it could also cross with coast (T. elegans terrestris) which has quite of a bit of red flecks on its side and may sometimes have red on the sides of its head, too. Since both species are found in the area (John has pictures of coast at Asilomar here in PG), I'm making a note for future IDs. I did learn that the number of labial scales may be indicative of species, but, of course, not always.

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