Eastern Gartersnake (female)

Eastern Gartersnake (female)

Kara Jones, a graduate student and teaching assistant at George Mason University, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, is shown examining an Eastern Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) as part of her field studies at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female, according to Kara.

Snakes can be sexed based on the length and shape of the tail. Males have intromittent organs called hemipenes, which are stored within the tail. Therefore the tails of male snakes are longer and thicker than females. So it takes some time to learn how to sex snakes visually since you have to handle a number of snakes before you get used to the relative thickness and length between males and females. Source Credit: Kara Jones.

I was fortunate to meet Kara during a photowalk through the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park on 06 April 2014. Thanks to Kara for sharing lots of good amphibian- and reptile knowledge during our walk-and-talk along the boardwalk!

Eastern Gartersnake (female)

Fun fact! Gartersnakes are ovoviviparous, that is to say they give birth to live young. Females can store males’ sperm for long periods of time, even years, waiting for the appropriate conditions to reproduce. Gartersnakes are born in litters of up to 80 or more, and are immediately able to live independently with no parental care. Gartersnakes (Thamnophis sp.) are the most widely distributed genus of reptiles in North America. Source Credit: Karen Loughrey Richard, Project Noah Facebook group.

Eastern Gartersnake (female)

Editor’s Note: Please don’t try this yourself — collecting specimens for observation is not allowed at Huntley Meadows Park.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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