Fun San Francisco Garter Snake Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun San Francisco Garter Snake Facts For Kids

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A deceptively beautiful reptile, the San Francisco garter snake is a vividly multicolored subspecies of the garter snake. It is often called the most beautiful snake in all of America. An elusive creature, this snake prefers living in marshy areas and is very difficult to trace and capture.

The San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) lives in an ecosystem that also hosts other garter snakes, including the garden garter snake, western terrestrial garter snake, and the Santa Cruz garter snake. These subspecies are known to have the same diet though their preferences differ. The garden garter snake likes to eat slugs, while the Santa Cruz garter snake likes to eat amphibian larvae and small fish.

We've gathered some fascinating San Francisco garter snake facts below. If you like these, do also check out our puff adder facts and speckled kingsnake facts.

Fun San Francisco Garter Snake Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

California red-legged frogs, Pacific tree frogs, insects, fish, newts, salamanders

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

3.88-5.29 oz (110-150 g)

How long are they?

18-55 in (46-140 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Red, orange, blue, black, green

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Humans, Loss Of Habitat

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them?

Ponds, Grasslands, Wetlands, Freshwater Bodies, Rodent Burrows


San Francisco, San Mateo County, And Pacific Coast, Santa Cruz Mountains









San Francisco Garter Snake Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a San Francisco garter snake?

The adult San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) is a slim and multicolored subspecies of the common garter snake that was categorized as Endangered species ever since 1967 in the San Mateo County and San Francisco Peninsula.

What class of animal does a San Francisco garter snake belong to?

San Francisco garter snakes of San Mateo County and Santa Cruz, which are Endangered species, belong to the Reptilia class of animals.

How many San Francisco garter snakes are there in the world?

Researchers estimate that there are 1000-2000 adult snakes of this species left. However, it is quite difficult to get information and population statistics on these Endangered species because of their elusive nature and the fact that their habitat is located on private properties that have not been surveyed.

Where does a San Francisco garter snake live?

They are found in scattered wetland regions at the San Francisco Peninsula from the northern boundary of San Mateo County, south alongside the eastern and western bases of the Santa Cruz Mountains, to the Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir and alongside the Pacific coast south to Año Nuevo Point, and on to Waddell Creek in Santa Cruz.

What is a San Francisco garter snake's habitat?

The desired habitat of the San garter snake is a densely vegetated pond close to an open hillside wherein it could feel the sun, feed, and locate cover in rodent burrows. However, a much less appropriate habitat may also be used. Temporary ponds and different seasonal freshwater bodies also are appropriate. This subspecies avoids brackish marsh regions due to the fact its desired prey, the California red-legged frog, can't continue to exist in saline water. The zone among movement and pond habitats and grasslands or bank sides is ordinarily used for basking, at the same time as close by dense plants or water frequently offer escape cover.

Who do San Francisco garter snakes live with?

Adult San Francisco garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) usually live alone, but during hibernation, they accumulate together to prevent a lot of heat loss and to keep their bodies warmer than they would be alone.

How long does a San Francisco garter snake live?

These Endangered species of snakes usually live for only two years in the wild but can live for up to 10 years in captivity like in San Mateo County, San Francisco Peninsula, or the San Francisco zoo. They don't have a long lifespan in their natural habitat but can live longer in the artificial habitat created for conserving them in the San Francisco zoo. They usually die as soon as they reach maturity.

How do they reproduce?

San Francisco garter snakes initially mate during springtime and then again during fall. As they had already gathered for hibernation, they do not have to waste energy seeking mates. Female garter snakes give off pheromones to draw in adult males. Dozens of adult males will come to at least one female. This mass of mating snakes is referred to as a mating ball. Some adult males use trickery to confuse their competition. They will secrete female pheromones to entice different adult males closer to them as opposed to the girl. After the alternative adult males are away from the mating ball, the adult males posing as women will dart back to the female to try to mate.

Garter snakes are oviparous, which means that they usually bear live young ones. After mating, the females generally store sperm in their bodies till they need to fertilize their eggs. Garter snakes give birth to 20-40 babies at a time, and litter sizes can range substantially according to the size of the female.

What is their conservation status?

This species of electric blue San Francisco garter snake conservation status is categorized as Endangered by the IUCN Red List in their natural habitat. Many wildlife sanctuaries are actively in the process of trying to save this species of garter snake.

San Francisco Garter Snake Fun Facts

What do San Francisco garter snakes look like?

San Francisco Garter Snake

San Francisco garter snakes have keeled dorsal scales on their body of a blue color, which has a border of red, black, orange, and green. Their head is not bigger than their neck and is red in color. They have the largest eyes in the garter snake species, which gives them good eyesight to be active during the day. They are only mildly poisonous, which doesn't really harm humans.

How cute are they?

These snakes are extremely beautiful to behold and look very cute because of their different bright colors. They are not as friendly as they look and, if threatened, may hide or attack only to defend themselves.

How do they communicate?

San Francisco garter snakes communicate with each other by using a complex communication system with the help of pheromones. These pheromones are communicated with the use of a tongue flicking behavior which helps them find other snakes by pheromone scented trails that they leave behind, and it is also essential for breeding.

How big is a San Francisco garter snake?

A San Francisco garter snake is small-sized at 18-55 in (46-140 cm), but it is still 10 times bigger than the smallest species of garter snakes.

How fast can a San Francisco garter snake move?

The exact speed limit of a San Francisco garter snake has not been observed yet, but they are known to be fast and quick in hiding themselves from predators.

How much does a San Francisco garter snake weigh?

This snake weighs approximately 3.88-5.29 oz (110-150 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate male and female names for this species, as with any snake.

What would you call a baby San Francisco garter snake?

Baby snakes are known as juveniles or are simply referred to as young.

What do they eat?

These snakes forage a lot in aquatic habitats. Adult snakes like to feed on California red-legged frogs, Pacific tree frogs, fishes, and other insects. These snakes depend a lot on the California red-legged frogs for their food, and their habitat is therefore always located close to these frogs.

Are they poisonous?

These snakes are only mildly poisonous and cannot inflict much harm to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

A lot of people keep these snakes as their pets as they are quite beautiful to look at. These snakes elicit strong feelings for their owners, which makes them excellent pets for some and troublesome for others.

Did you know...

There was confusion in differentiating of San Francisco garter snake between two subspecies, the California red-sided garter snake and the red-spotted garter snake.

A garter snake's cost ranges from $20-$300. You can own them, but you will have to fulfill many legal formalities and take a lot of permissions from many authorities.

Why is the San Francisco garter snake endangered?

The San Francisco garter snakes are endangered because of the loss of their habitat due to agriculture, commercial development, and predators.

The San Francisco garter snake and humans

These snakes are not friendly with humans and make an attack if they feel threatened. Though they are not poisonous and cannot kill you, they can still cause mild irritation to the human if bitten.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our blue spiny lizard facts and green and black poison dart frog facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable San francisco garter snake coloring pages.

Written By
Divya Raghav

<p>With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.</p>

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