Saturday, April 1, 2017

Garter Snakes Mating

Our huge snow pack in the Bear Lake Valley melted fast.  While there is still snow in the mountains, here on the valley floor we are dealing with a lot of water, and the smaller members of our wildlife community are appearing.
I was driving around the valley looking for photos of the flooded fields when I spotted these two intertwined common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) that had probably just emerged from hibernation.
I assumed they were mating, but after reading about them it is possible they were huddled together for warmth in our cold climate.  Some males are able to produce female pheromones which attract other males away from the den.  Then the first male ditches the pheromones and races back to the den where he hopes to have the females to himself.  This same technique tricks other males into “warming up” the trickster.
These snakes were very patient with me.  When I got down to their level, the smaller one stretched out toward the lens curiously, and I wonder if he was looking at his reflection.  Also, I wonder about the dusty color of these usually brilliant snakes.  Could it be that after emerging from hibernation their colors are dull until after they molt?  I just don’t know.

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1 comment:

  1. I saw a HUGE snake last night
    when we were saving-some-souls o'thar, o'yonder...
    yet, I had my literal cross
    so I wasnt afraid, putting my
    God bless your indelible soul.
    cya Upstairs someday, bro...