Northwestern Garter Snake

Save as favorite

Avg. Owner Satisfaction


(10 Reviews)

J Maughn

Is the Northwestern Garter Snake right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Puget Sound Garter Snake

Scientific name: Thamnophis ordinoides

The basics:
Northwestern Garter Snakes are native to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. They are found in coastal areas and west of the Cascade Mountains from northwestern California to British Columbia, Canada. Their natural habitats include damp areas near bodies of water as well as meadows, thickets, grassy fields, and forest clearings.

Appearance / health:
One of the smaller Garter Snakes, the full-grown Northwestern Garter Snake averages 2 feet in length. Compared to the California Garter Snake, the Northwestern’s head is small, barely wider than the neck. The dorsal scales are keeled. The basic coloration is variable, ranging from gray or olive to brown or black. In most individuals, there are three visible longitudinal stripes that may be whitish or any shade of orange, yellow, green, blue, or red. The belly is yellow, brown, or gray with back or red spots.

Behavior / temperament:
Northwestern Garter Snakes are diurnal. They are shy and will rush to hide when threatened. When distressed, instead of biting, they dispel a foul smelling musk to repel predators.

Northwestern Garter Snakes are relatively small; therefore, the best cage is a 10- to 30-gallon dry woodland terrarium with a large bathing pan and accessories that provide hiding places, basking spots and climbing branches. Larger cages are ideal because they provide room for the snake to roam. The cage needs to be escape-proof.

Since Garter Snakes group together (in dens in the wild), especially when they hibernate, they can be kept and cared for as a group. Because they are active (enjoys slithering in and out of the water) and voracious eaters, and dispel foul-smelling anal musk when disturbed, their cage needs to have a quick-drying substrate and should be regularly cleaned. Water should be changed daily. The snakes should be allowed to hibernate in winter for 2-3 months at 50-60F (colder for those brought in from the northern regions).

Garter Snakes feed on earthworms, snails, frogs, and fish.

Northwestern Garter Snakes mate in early spring and give birth to live young in July to September.


wonderful choice, friendly pet, social nature, hardy reptiles, Low maintenance


British Colombia, Washington State, northern regions, smaller size, great swimmers

Member photos