Marin County (CA) is a locality where all three subspecies of aquatic Garter Snakes (Santa Cruz, Oregon and Diablo Range Garter Snake) naturally intergrade.
Although garter snakes are found across the United States, aquatic garter snakes are only found in the coastal regions of California north of Santa Barbara and the southern Oregon coast.
Aquatic Intergrade Garter Snakes eat fish, salamanders, toads and newts. They do not have venom, nor do they constrict to subdue prey. Instead, they quickly grab prey by mouth and swallow it whole.
Like other garter snakes, they have a striped pattern. These snakes have characteristics of each of the three subspecies that are combined to create them. This snake can be seen most of the year when conditions allow, but is primarily found during Spring through Fall.
These reptiles inhabit creeks, streams, rivers, small lakes and ponds. They seem to prefer shallow rocky creeks and streams and are often found in woodland, brush and forest.
Although they are often associated with water, I sometimes encounter them quite some distance from a permanent water source. They are active during the day and after dark during very hot weather.
These snakes are always unique and interesting finds while exploring the Bay Area of California.