Thamnophis sirtalis species…: the Common Gartersnake species…
Thamnophis sirtalis has many subspecies, some occurring in a very small geographic area and some occur over very large areas. Currently approximately 12 different subspecies are described: Thamnophis sirtalis annectens, T.s.concinnus, T.s.dorsalis, T.s.fitchii, T.s.infernalis, T.s.pallidulus, T.s.parietalis, T.s.pickeringii, T.s.semifasciatus, T.s.similis T.s. sirtalis and T.s.tetrataenia.
Distribution and habitat
Thamnophis sirtalis occurs in a very large part of the USA from coast to coast and from north to south. The species occurs in just a small area in Mexico and in large parts of Canada.
Thamnophis sirtalis is the snake that occurs farthest north of all snake species in Northamerica. The species lives up north in areas where the activity period can be as short as 3 months. In southern Florida the species can be active year-round. The snakes can live at sea level but also occur high in the mountains. Some populations are highly aquatic, especially on the westcoast of the US. Other populations occur in drier habitats. So especially for Thamnophis sirtalis it is crucial to know where the snakes originate from in order to keep them in a way that reflects their lives in wild.
The Common Gartersnake does well in captivity. Minimum size to keep one adult couple is 60 x 50 x 50 cm. They do well in a dry and well ventilated cage with just a water bowl for swimming and drinking. Local temperatures in the terrarium should rise to 30 – 35 °C. But it is important to offer them a relatively wide temperature range so the snakes can choose their optimum temperature. Thamnophis sirtalis seems to be sensitive for keeping them too warm, so make sure there is a cool area in the terrarium where the temperature does not rise far above the 25 °C. Hibernation is a must for all subspecies (in my opinion), but duration may vary from 2 – 5 months depending on origin of the snakes.