Posts Tagged ‘mating garter snakes’

On Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I stumbled upon a pair of Eastern Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis). Their bodies were intertwined and were undulating. Now I do not know much about the mating practices of snakes, but I assume that was what they were doing.

I got down really low to take the first shot, which gives a close-up view of the head of one of the snakes that appears to be smiling—I believe that this one, which is clearly the smaller of the two, is the male snake.

According to an article by Sue Pike, “Garter snakes bear live young instead of laying eggs. In fact, in most live-bearing snakes, the females are considerably larger than the males. Since a larger female can carry more babies, and larger litter size mean a greater chance of survival for some of the offspring; natural selection will favor larger females. Females also tend to be more bulky and less active than males since they need to conserve their energy for reproduction. Males tend to be skinnier, more active and smaller than the females because, in the wild, their excess energy is used to chase females.”

The second shot shows the bodies of the two snakes when I came upon them—they look almost like they were braided together. I encourage you to click on the image to get a closer look at the beautiful patterns on the bodies of these snakes.

As I was making a little video of the two snakes, they were joined by a third garter snake. This snake, which I think is another male, slithered along the entire length of the intertwined bodies, looking for an opening. Somehow I thought the new snake would be more aggressive, but he was actually quite gentle. He ended up with his body stretched out as part of the intricate braid.

I have embedded the one-minute-long YouTube video at the end of this posting. In the video you can see the undulating bodies of the two snakes and the arrival and subsequent actions of the third snake. If you cannot see the embedded video, you can use this link  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgKIKLVeOVg) to access it directly on YouTube.

mating garter snakes

mating garter snakes

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.



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