Plains Garter Snake

Thamnophis radix

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Family: Colubridae

Plains garter snake range map

Find out more about the plains garter snake from:


Websites -


Publications -

Snakes and Lizards of Minnesota  This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. - 72 page identification and information booklet (10.2 MB)

Plains Garter Snake fact sheet  This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer articles


Problem animals -

Living with snakes


Plains Garter Snake

You might find this snake in fields or even in your backyard or in a neighborhood park. Plains garter snakes tend to avoid water more than some other Minnesota snakes do.


General description: Typically 1 to 2 feet long, this garter snake is brown, greenish or black. Its three long, light-colored stripes are its most obvious marking.

Size: Plains garter snakes are generally 15 to 28 inches long.

Color: The background color varies from greenish to brown and black. The stripes are yellow, orange, or off-white. It also has black spots in rows.

Plains Garter Snake Reproduction

Plains garter snakes mate in springtime. They give birth to 10 to 70 or more young at a time. The babies are about 5 to 8 inches long.


Plains garter snakes eat just about anything they can get their jaws around--frogs, insects, worms, fish, rodents, and eggs. They don't bother to kill their prey before they eat it. However, sometimes they will eat things that are already dead.


Garter snakes are eaten by hawks, skunks, raccoons, and cats.

Habitat and range

The plains garter snake likes open spaces such as farm fields, yards, and parks. It is mainly active during the day. Plains garter snakes hibernate in winter, often with other snakes, in mammal burrows or other holes in the ground.

Population and management

This snake has no special status in Minnesota, meaning that its population appears to be doing fine.

Fun facts

The plains garter snake is not venomous. However, you might want to be wary anyway--when it gets scared, it gives off a bad smell.