Garter Snake, Butler's

Latin name

Thamnophis butleri


Fast facts

  • Adult body length: 15 to 20 inches (record 27ΒΌ inches)
  • Body length at birth: 5 - 7 inches
  • Breeding period: March and April
  • Young per year: summer when 4 to 16 are born
  • Typical foods: worms, leeches, frogs and salamanders
  • Named for an early Indiana naturalist, Amos Butler


    Butler's Garter Snake is olive-brown to black with yellow or orange side stripes. These stripes occupy the 3rd scale row and parts of the 2nd and 4th rows. There also is a yellow stripe running down the back, and sometimes there are 2 rows of dark spots between the side stripes and the back stripe. The scales are keeled and they are arranged in 19 rows. The anal plate is single.


    Overall Range
    Eastern Michigan and adjacent southern Ontario, south into northeastern Indiana and northwestern half of Ohio, with an unconnected colony in southeastern Wisconsin just north of Chicago.

    Range in Ohio
    Northwestern quadrant including north central, central, and west central parts of the state. 

    Map showing the range of this snake in Ohio

    Local Habitat
    Wet areas in old fields, meadows, pastures, and the open margins of marshes and streams.


    Butler's Garter Snake is locally common, but rare or absent in some parts of its range. It generally prefers open, prairie-like, grassy areas with water or at least some moisture.

    When excited or threatened this snake often thrashes about from side to side with little forward movement. Some observers find this a useful trait in identifying the Butler's Garter Snake in the field.