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10 Types of Garter Snakes: Morphs & Colors
Garter snakes, often simply called garden snakes, are a common species of wild snake found throughout North America, and they can be readily found in gardens and near bodies of water, like ponds, rivers, and wetlands. They are small, slender snakes, and there are approximately 75 different species and subspecies. Their small size makes them adaptable to living in a variety of different environments.
Garter snakes are rear-fanged reptiles, and although they are mildly venomous, they pose no threat to humans. They are commonly kept as pets, and on their rare occasion that they bite, it only causes mild swelling and itching.
With all the various species and subspecies of Garter snakes, there are dozens of potential unique morphs, and more are being developed all the time. In this article, we look at 10 of the most well-known and beautiful Garter Snake morphs. Let’s get started!
1. Common Garter Snake
One of the most abundant Garter snake varieties, the Common Garter Snake is also one of the most widespread snake species in the U.S. They typically have an olive, tan, grey, or black base color, often with one or more cream stripes running down the length of their body.
Defined as “lacking in red pigments,” the anerythrisic morph has a dark brown to black base color, with touches of blue and grey. They also have a single white, cream, or grey dorsal stripe running down their body and are devoid of the red spotting commonly seen in many Garter morphs.
The albino morph is a rare beauty, occasionally appearing in the wild. Their patterns and size do not differ much from common Garter snakes but have paler coloring and markings. They are usually a combination of white, cream, orange, peach, and yellow, with pink albino eyes. They are a highly sought-after Garter morph among collectors.
4. Blue morph
The blue morph Garter has a very dark blue to black base color, ranging from deep blues to a blueish white tone across their body. They typically have light blue bellies, although they can be found with completely black bellies too. They may even be found with a greenish or yellowish blue coloring on their bodies. They are a popular morph for collectors.
The special red morph, known as the “flame” morph, occurs naturally in wild Garter snakes in a small area of southwestern Canada. They are instantly recognizable, beautiful snakes with varying shades of red, orange, and yellow morphing up from their bellies, creating a flaming appearance. They have the usual white dorsal stripe, which can also occur in bright orange or red coloring. As you can imagine, these snakes are highly sought-after by collectors but are exceedingly difficult to find.
The orange morph has similar patterning to the common Garter snake, but with deep orange base color blending into light browns and tans. They have the characteristic dorsal stripe, but it is typically a light orange color, with an orange or light red belly and red flecks or spots throughout their body.
Red Garter morphs are fairly common in the wild and have been found throughout the U.S. and up into Canada. They commonly have a dark green or brown base color, punctuated by red spots all along the sides of their body. They also have the characteristic cream or yellow dorsal stripe, and some red morphs have small amounts of red dotting their bodies, while others have distinct red and black patterning.
The Iowa Snow morph is a unique morph indeed. They are born pink but tend to get darker as they grow older. They can vary from a yellow to pearly-white base color, with a faint dorsal stripe and bright red eyes. There is also the Nebraska Snow, which has a more lavender coloring in adulthood, and a faint yellow dorsal stripe and dark red eyes.
One of the most beautiful Garter morphs, melanistic morphs are jet black all over their body, occasionally with a faint grey dorsal stripe and a small white patch on their chin. The melanistic gene exists in many Garter species, so almost all varieties can inherit this jet-black coloring, with different faint patterning and markings that can vary in intensity between species.
10. Speckled Flame
The result of breeding two unrelated red morphs, the speckled flame morph has varying degrees of orange, yellow, and red, with black speckling throughout their bodies. They usually have solid orange bellies and orange or red dorsal stripes. Some of these snakes have the same markings as the famed “flame” morph, but these are interspersed with black, red, and yellow specks.
Featured Image Credit: Nature-Pix, Pixabay
Oliver (Ollie) Jones – A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master’s degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.