P90525KThis little critter surprised me at work last week. Even though I knew it to be harmless, my instinctual response was to get away from it fast. I have encountered enough rattlesnakes to know better than to take the time to identify a snake before getting some distance from it. Even after identifying a snake as a harmless garter snake, I still prefer to avoid it as it leaves. This one was in no hurry, so got picked up with a rake and set safely aside.
Between high school and college, I took a summer job for a (primarily) retail nursery in Miramar on the coast of San Mateo County. At this job, I sometime went with the maintenance crew to work in a few home gardens. At one such job, just overlooking the beach in Montara, I needed to mow an overgrown lawn. Rather than mow back and forth from the upper edge to the lower, I mowed a concentric pattern inward from the outer edge.
What that meant was that I mowed the edge first, and then just inside the freshly mown edge, and then just inside that second track, and so on, with the intention of finishing at the center of the lawn. What I did not consider was that this technique concentrated the several garter snakes that happened to be on the lawn at the time into the diminishing unmown center. Needless to say, I needed to stop mowing while I chased them off with a stick.
What I also neglected to consider during my Indiana Jones experience was that these were no ordinary garter snakes. They were the more colorful and endangered San Francisco garter snake. I remember their extra pair of red stripes on top. Supposedly, they also had an extra pair of blue stripes underneath. I did not get close enough to notice.

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18 thoughts on “Garter Snake

  1. We don’t need to worry too much about encountering venomous snakes here though escaped or abandoned exotic varieties have turned up on occasion. I’d like to hear of your encounters with rattlesnakes. An encounter with one would leave me rattled.

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    1. You probably do not want to know what happens to the rattlesnakes. I can not allow them to live so close to where there are so many people coming and going. Even at the farm, I do not want them where the crew needs to work.

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  2. They’re quite beautiful, the garter snakes–and bug eaters of course! But I jump at them as well–It’s instinctive and a survival reaction. Good for you for moving it. Rattlers, copperheads and cottonmouths are entirely another matter.

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    1. Rattlesnakes are rare even here, and they live only in particular spots. At the farm, they live up on exposed stone outcropping, and warm sandy slopes, but not down in the cooler riparian spots.

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  3. I jump when I see a snake, evaluate the situation, then start taking photos. I have a nice collection. My neighbor saw a snake and broke her hip trying to get away. It was a black/rat snake, but I guess they can be dangerous if you are going to hurt yourself.

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