Common Garter Snakes Emerge From Hibernation

Around a week before St Patrick’s Day common garter snakes emerge from hibernation in Wisconsin. Legend states St Patrick led the snakes out of Ireland.  Although, this is only a fable. There have never been snakes in Ireland, aside from zoos. Wouldn’t mind if this were the case for Wisconsin.

Gardner Snake

At this time, I only have one snake photo. I fear the critters, but they seem to like me. Shouldn’t fear them as much as I do because there is nothing harmful about them. They even take care of the second creature I dislike, mice.

What Do They Look Like
• Back color comes in a variety of colors. Green, blue, yellow, gold, red, orange, brown, and black.
• Typically thin snakes having a pattern of yellow stripes on a black, brown or green background.
•  Average total length is about 22 inches.
• In Wisconsin, most of our snakes main back coloring seems to be green or grey-green.
• Outside of Wisconsin back colors can widely vary.

When Are They Commonly Seen?
• Most active in the morning & late afternoon
• They love to bask in the warm sun

My Worst Spring Fear
In the spring out searching for wildflowers, you might see a huge gathering of garter snakes. I have encountered them in previous years.

Wood Anemone

Winter Hibernation & Emerging
• Live in dens in the winter with numerous additional common garter snakes.
• When they emerge from hibernation, it is not uncommon to see large numbers in an area.
• They are a little cranky when waking up from their winter’s slumber.
• Can and will lunge as if they are going to strike you, but instead they spit a foul-smelling liquid.  It is nasty.  With our height difference, it normally misses or lands on your pants.


• The snakes mate first thing upon emerging from their winter dens.
• Females give birth to 10-40 snakes from July through October.

Are The Snakes Poisonous?
They are not poisonous in the bit sense.  Just some discomfort.
• Humans react to a bite by having a stinging sensation, itching and general swelling at the site.
• Now, if you want to eat them.  I’d think twice. There is some kind of newt I read that they have in certain states that the snakes eat.  The newts secrete a poison.  Once they ingest the newt, they carry the poison in their flesh.  I have no plans on touching one, let alone eating it. 🙂



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