Endangered Species in Santa Cruz County - Reptiles


San Francisco garter snake

San Francisco garter snake

Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis tetraenia

Status: E

The San Francisco Garter Snake is a colorful garter snake, averaging 2-3 ft. in length. It can be recognized by its mid-dorsal stripe of greenish-yellow bordered by a black and a red stripe on each side which may be broken or divided. The belly is greenish-blue, and the top of the head is red. All known populations of this species occur in San Mateo County, CA. It mates in early March, and lives on a diet consisting primarily of frogs, toads, immature newts, fishes and occasional small mammals.

Habitat: Near freshwater marshes, ponds, and slow-moving streams; upland areas near pond/marsh habitat are important in fall and winter. Marshes provide important feeding and breeding habitat; often basks on floating algae or rush mats or on grassy hillsides near drainages and ponds; seeks cover in bankside vegetation such as cattails, bulrushes, and spikerushes, and in rodent burrows.

Threats: Urbanization has destroyed most prime habitat, leaving highly fragmented populations.

To Learn More:

  • CA Dept. of Fish and Game
    Provides status notes (including distribution, habitat and breeding) about the rare, threatened, and endangered animals and plants of California.
  • CalPhotos Database
    Enter species name, common or scientific, in search box to access browseable photographs on the species.
  • NatureServe Explorer
    Enter species name in the search box to access a detailed description of habitat, behavior, food, current conservation status, ecological and distribution data, with citations to relevant management reports.

Last updated by lorenzop on May 22, 2008

Browse by Status Key

E — Endangered

T — Threatened

CH — Critical Habitat

PE — Taxa proposed for listing as endangered

PT — Taxa proposed for listing as threatened

PCH — Critical habitat which has been proposed

C — Candidate species for which the Fish and Wildlife Service has on file sufficient information on the biological vulnerability and threats to support proposals to list as endangered or threatened