Eastern Garter Snake Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
Colonel Samuel Smith Park
3 September 2014
I found myself with about a half hour to kill while waiting to go to an appointment, so I decided to do a little birding at Colonel Samuel Smith Park.
The birding was very slow indeed with a true paucity of both species and numbers, but I observed this Eastern Garter Snake in the water.
While most snakes have the ability to swim, and some species are primarily found in or close to water, I had never previously seen a Garter Snake in water, nor is this behaviour mentioned in the two references I have on my shelves. This species which is quite common in southern Ontario can attain a length of 66 cm and I would conjecture that this individual was approaching that size. I cannot recall ever having seen a bigger specimen.
I observed the snake for about four minutes and it made no attempt to locate prey as far I could tell, and small minnows, and doubtless frogs were in the area. It finally moved into a stand of dense phragmites and disappeared from view.
Conant R. and Collins, J.T., 1998, Reptiles and Amphibians East Central North America, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY
Cook, F.R., 1984, Introduction to Canadian Amphibians and Reptiles, National Museum of Natural Sciences, National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, ON