The Checkered garter snake is a small generally harmless snake found in the Americas. It is typically greenish in color, with a distinct, black checkerboard pattern down its back. There is a large cream-colored crescent mark on each side of the head and the belly is yellowish.
Checkered garter snakes are native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America. They prefer to live in the desert, savanna, and grassland, usually close to rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, springs, marshes, swamps, and flooded areas. In the southern parts of their range, these snakes can be found in tropical dry and moist forests.
Checkered garter snakes are diurnal terrestrial creatures. They are good swimmers and may spend a long time in the water while searching for prey. When threatened will release a foul-smelling liquid from their cloaca and may also strike and bite if provoked. They will also slither into the water to escape a predator on land. Checkered garter snakes are generally solitary but during the winter they hibernate in groups. They hibernate in abandoned burrows or deep crevices in rocky hillsides. Garter snakes have complex systems of pheromonal communication and are able to find other snakes by following their pheromone-scented trails. They use the vomeronasal organ to communicate via pheromones through the tongue flicking behavior which gathers chemical cues in the environment.
Checkered garter snakes are polygynous which means that one male mates with more than one female. The breeding season usually takes place from late March through early April. After the gestation period of 80-105 days, females give birth to 6-35 live young. Snakelets are independent at birth and don't require parental care. Young males become reproductively mature at the age of 1,5 years while young females start to reproduce when they are 2 years old.
There are no major threats to Checkered garter snakes at present. However, in Mexico and Central America, some populations of this species suffer from habitat loss, the use of pesticides, and the shortage of amphibian prey.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Checkered garter snake total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.