Unusual but not unheard of, this northwestern garter snake (Thamnophis ordinoides) was unexpectedly found actively hunting in the grass near the beach on a rare February sunny day on the Oregon Coast in Oswald West State Park. One of the smallest of garter snakes in the region, it is also one of the hardest to identify because of the extreme variability in color and pattern. One of the best clues without counting scale numbers and patterns is the head, which tends to be quite small for a garter snake. This one was quite large for this smaller species – it was over 30 inches when the typical northwestern garter is usually around 24 inches. With a range from Vancouver Island in Canada’s British Columbia in the north all the way south to Northern California, these snakes mostly inhabit the area between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountain Range.
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Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnphis ordinoides) Tillamook County, Oregon
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