Thursday, December 16, 2010

GARTER SNAKE SUBFAMILY (Thamnophis): Gentleness

A child’s first encounter with a Snake is usually with the graceful Garter Snake.  This harmless Snake is often seen basking near a pond or stream.  Sometimes, She is seeking Frogs, Worms, or other small Animals in her territory. 
            Garter Snake’s slender body has light stripes and checkered patterns.  Her name “Garter Snake” came from resembling the garters that once held up men’s socks.  Found only in North America, the Subfamily of Garter Snakes consists of about twenty-two species.
            Garter Snakes are well known for denning together in winter, and for their spring mating balls.  When the weather becomes cooler, hundreds of Garter Snakes will gather at a hibernaculum (communal underground shelter).  Wanting to conserve their energy, these Snakes come together to share their warmth.  During early spring, various Garter Snakes will leave their communal shelter for brief periods but then return before nightfall.
            Garter Snakes have a complex system of communicating by smells.  When Female Garter Snake wants to mate, She emits certain pheromones.  At that time, twenty or more Males will gather.  Wrapping Themselves around Her, the Males form a mating ball.  Rolling around the ground, eventually one Male Garter Snake will succeed in mating.
            Some Male Garter Snakes will pretend to be Females by sending out certain pheromones.  These “She-Males” trick other Males into sharing their heat.  Later They will lead their rivals away, and then race back to mate with Female Garter Snake.
            “Gentleness” is what Garter Snake best exemplifies.  She goes about her business tolerating children and their curiosity.  In mating, She uses her scent to tell the others when She wants Them to come.  Even when Male Garter Snake wants to win out over his rivals, he uses guile instead of brawn.  In wintertime, you will find hundreds of Garter Snakes sharing their body heat together peacefully.  Learn to be gentle from Garter Snake.

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