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Posted by CaseyLazik on April 03, 2003 at 11:22:15:
I went to a local pond yesterday to show a young friend some local herps. The previous day I found two pairs of Puget Sound Garter Snakes, Thamnophis sirtalis pickeringi. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me but thought I'd go back the following day to see if I could get some photographs. The conditions were less than ideal. The temperature was 51 degrees F. with a brisk wind, heavy overcast with a few drops starting to fall. There were short intervals of weak sun on occasion.
Despite the typical cool northwest weather, a few garter snakes were out.
This was the first one we encountered. I wanted to take a photo "in situ" but I nearly stepped on this big girl as her mud covered body blended in with the ground. I grabbed her and let my little friend hold on to the prize.
Here's the same snake after a rinse in the pond.
A close up of her relatively cleaned head
Here's one making a speeding retreat. It's amazing how they can warm up in these conditions.
Occasionally, I'll find some individuals that look more like T.s. fitchi, the Valley Garter Snake. I live in the Cascade foothills where the range of these two subspecies seem to merge. Some individuals are clearly pickeringi, others have a definite fitchi influence.
a closer look at the same snake.
This is the habitat.
Another local resident, the Northern Red Legged Frog, Rana aurora. Fortunately, the bullfrogs have not found their way to this pond. I have seen them within a few miles, however. The bullfrogs have taken over in many areas in the Northwest. Unfortunately, the red legged frog, spotted frog, and western pond turtle have been affected by this species. Other species, no doubt, have been harmed by the introduction as well.
Last spring, I found this road kill in front of my house. It was messy so I cropped the photo to show the red areas on the snake. T.s. fitchi?
Another snake, clearly different, found in my driveway. A classic t.s. pickeringi.