How Do You Identify the Garter Snakes of Missouri?

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Garter snakes in Missouri are typically dark colored and have orange, yellow or white stripes that run lengthwise down the body of the snake. The snake may be greenish, black, olive or dark brown.

As of 2014, five species of garter snakes can be found in Missouri. Garter snakes can grow up to 4 feet in length and have a rounded head that flattens out to appear triangular if the snake is threatened. Garter snakes can have a checkerboard pattern on dark areas of the body. Garter snakes have eyes with rounded pupils, and there are two rows of scales on the underside of the snake.

Garter snakes can release a foul odor if they feel threatened and are among the first snakes to become active after winter hibernation. The snakes may be found in areas with water, such as near rivers or lakes, but they are typically found in low-lying areas like meadows and valleys.

All species of garter snakes in Missouri are readily identified by the horizontal stripes that run down the length of the body, allowing garter snakes to be distinguished from other types of snakes in the region. Some garter snakes feature a single stripe down the center of the back, while others have multiple stripes. The stripes are typically brightly colored, but the color of the stripe can vary depending on the exact species of snake.