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This Week’s Creature Feature: Reptiles Awaken

Take a look at two of our neighbor snakes 

A northern watersnake, top, and an eastern garter snake, below.
As the ground warms, hibernating animals start waking up. This past weekend, northern watersnakes and eastern garter snakes were rousing. I found several as I walked through a park in Baltimore County. Both are very common throughout Maryland and are non-venomous.
      The northern watersnake is typically a thick-bodied animal with a banded pattern down its body. They tend to be smaller than three feet long. Females are usually thicker, longer and have a shorter tail and rounder head than males. They eat fish, crustaceans and frogs, catching them by ambush and pursuit.
     The eastern garter snake is also smaller than three feet long but thin and fast. Garter snakes live at the edge of swampy areas and wet forests. They are green with three vertical yellow stripes, one on each side and one down the middle. Garter snakes are active hunters, pursuing worms, insects, fish and frogs. The females have the same characteristics as the watersnakes: larger, longer tail, rounded head compared to males.
     Garter snakes and northern watersnakes have other similarities. Both are ovoviviparous, giving live birth to eggs developed inside the mother. Both also have ridges on their scales called keels, make a musk to deter capture and have irritable dispositions. I don’t try to pick up either of them because they are quick to bite and smear you with their musk.