Plains Gartersnake Thamnophis radix

Adult from Lake County
Subadult from Lake County

Identification: At first glance, this snake is similar to its eastern counterpart, but this species's vibrant colors and restricted range sets it apart. Plains gartersnakes are dark brown to black snakes with a yellow to orange dorsal stripe and lighter lateral stripes. Though adult females may grow to over three feet (1 m) in length, most adults are around two feet (60 cm) long.

Similar Species: Eastern gartersnakes occur alongside plains gartersnakes in northwestern Indiana but tend to have a less vibrant dorsal stripe (never orange) and are often lighter in color. Upon close examination the lateral stripes are also positioned lower on eastern gartersnakes (scale rows two/three) than on plains gartersnakes (scale rows three/four). Eastern ribbonsnakes and western ribbonsnakes are overall very similar, but tend to be notably slimmer with a longer tail.

Remnant Prairie in Lake County

Distribution: Plains gartersnakes are a species of the great plains and, in Indiana, are only found in the northwestern corner of the state. Here they inhabit remnant prairie patches as well as more disturbed habitats like railroad right of ways and old fields.

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Plains Gartersnake (Thamnophis radix)