The Eastern garter snake is a medium-sized non-venomous snake that is native to North America. These snakes are greenish, brown, or black in color and have a distinct yellow or white stripe. Their belly is cream to yellowish-green. Females in this species are typically larger than males.
Eastern garter snakes have a wide range across eastern North America, going as far north as southern Ontario and Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico in the south, along the eastern shores of America to the Mississippi River. In New England, the snake is described as the "most widespread and ubiquitous" serpent. Eastern garter snakes live in a variety of environments, with a preference for forests, grassy or shrubby fields, including abandoned farmland, outbuildings, and trash dumps. In particular, they like to inhabit stone walls that separate the forest from fields. They are also found along moist habitats such as lakes, rivers, streams, swamps, bogs, ponds, drainage ditches, quarries. Snakes are present in urban environments in habitats that include "city parks, cemeteries, and suburban yards and gardens".
Eastern garter snakes are terrestrial and can be active both during the day or night. They like to conceal themselves under logs, stones and other debris that allow them to bask in the sunlight and quickly seek refuge from predators. These snakes can be aggressive and will strike or bite. If threatened, they will release a foul-smelling musk. Eastern garter snakes are generally solitary but may gather in groups when they brumate (similar to hibernation); during brumation, snakes are mostly asleep but still can wake up to drink water. They brumate in large groups during the winter in their dens which are usually located in rock outcropping or even abandoned mammal burrows.
Eastern garter snakes are polygynandrous (promiscuous) which means that both males and females mate with multiple partners. Their breeding season occurs in spring soon after emergence from hibernation and in the fall. Many males may try to mate with one female, resulting in a "breeding ball". Females give birth to a litter of 10-40 live snakelets. Gestation lasts around 2-3 months. The young are 13-23 cm (5-9 in) long at birth and are fully independent of their mother. Males usually become reproductively mature at 1.5 years of age while females reach maturity when they are two years old.
There are no major threats to Eastern garter snakes at present.
According to IUCN, the Eastern garter snake is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.