California Red-Sided Garter Snake: A Rare Sight in the Golden State

A Rare Sight in the Golden State: California Red-Sided Garter Snake

California is home to a wide variety of wildlife, from the iconic California condor to the more elusive mountain lion. But one species that is rarely seen in the Golden State is the California red-sided garter snake. This small, non-venomous snake is found in only a few areas of California and is considered a rare sight.

The Natural History of the California Red-Sided Garter Snake

The California red-sided garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis) is a subspecies of the common garter snake found throughout North America. It is typically between 18 and 24 inches long and has three yellow stripes running down its back. The stripes are bordered by black on either side, and its sides are marked with red or orange spots.

This species prefers wetter habitats such as marshes, ponds, streams, and other areas with abundant water sources. They feed primarily on amphibians such as frogs and salamanders, but they will also eat small fish, insects, and other invertebrates.

Where to Find the California Red-Sided Garter Snake

The California red-sided garter snake can be found in only a few areas of the state. It is most commonly seen in coastal regions from San Francisco south to Santa Barbara County. It can also be found in some inland areas such as parts of Fresno County and Kern County.

In addition to these areas, there have been occasional sightings of this species in other parts of California including San Diego County and even as far north as Humboldt County. However, these sightings are rare and it is not known if these snakes are established populations or just passing through from other areas.

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Conservation Status of the California Red-Sided Garter Snake

The California red-sided garter snake has been listed as a species of special concern by the state since 1980 due to its limited range and declining population numbers. This means that it is not currently threatened with extinction but could become so if its population continues to decline or if its habitat becomes further degraded or destroyed by human activities such as development or pollution.

In order to protect this species from further decline, conservation efforts have been put into place by both state and federal agencies including habitat protection measures such as fencing off wetlands where they live or creating buffer zones around them to prevent development from encroaching on their habitat. In addition, research projects have been conducted to better understand their ecology so that more effective conservation strategies can be implemented for their protection.


The California red-sided garter snake may be a rare sight in the Golden State but it still plays an important role in our ecosystems by helping keep amphibian populations in check while providing food for predators like hawks and owls. With proper conservation efforts in place we can ensure that this unique species will continue to thrive for generations to come!