While on my visit to California I found a couple examples of this “lifer” reptile that is a subspecies of the Common Garter Snake.
This snake is seldom found far from permanent water where it resides in riparian habitat along streams and floodplains and around ponds and marshy areas. I found my specimens in a flooded ditch.
Valley Garter Snakes are active during the daytime and usually found from April through September. They eat a range of food items, including fish, frogs, mice, earthworms, slugs and leeches.
Like most Garter Snakes native to the United States, the Valley Garter Snake it is brown to black with three yellow stripes: One stripe down the back and one on each side.
Valley Garter Snakes breed in the spring, soon after emerging from hibernation. Females typically give birth to 5 to 40 live young in July or August. The young are 7 to 8 inches in length at birth.
This species is the most frequently encountered snake in most parts of its range and adapts well to human modification of the landscape. Despite being common and having wide range, I was thrilled to come across them in the wild.