Snake – DeKay’s and Garter
Q: My wife and I have found several small snakes in our front and back yard. They have each been about 12 inches long with the same markings. Do you recognize this type of snake?
A: Yours is the most common snake I encounter in my landscape: DeKay’s snake. It was named for New York naturalist James Edward DeKay. They breed in spring and give birth to 5 – 10 living young at a time. They are about four inches long at birth and are nearly black with dark spots and a light collar around the neck.
DeKay’s snakes hibernate in rock crevices and under rotting logs. They eat earthworms, slugs, snails, and soft-bodied insects. Larger ones can eat small frogs and tadpoles.
Q: This snake was in a flower bed at the front of my house. Any idea what kind? Is it dangerous?
A: You saw a common garter snake. It’s life cycle is the same as for DeKay’s snake. Neither are dangerous.
Remember too that all non-venomous snakes in Georgia are protected by law. Killing them is illegal, no matter how much you dislike them.
The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory has an excellent website devoted to identifying snakes, frogs and other amphibians.