© Joseph W. Dougherty. All rights reserved.
Thamnophis sirtalis ssp. infernalis (Blainville, 1835)
California Red-sided Garter Snake
The subspecies epithet, infernalis, means "from Hell," in reference to the red flames that appear to arise along the flanks of this gorgeous animal.
California Red-sided Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis ssp. infernalis (Blainville, 1835)
Garters were long thought to be nonvenomous, but recent discoveries have revealed that they do in fact produce a mild neurotoxic venom. Garter snakes cannot kill humans with the small amounts of venom they produce, which is comparatively mild, and they also lack an effective means of delivering it. They do have enlarged teeth in the back of their mouth, but their gums are significantly larger. Whereas most venomous snakes have anterior or forward venom glands, the Duvernoy's gland of garters are posterior (to the rear) of the snake's eyes. The mild venom is spread into wounds through a chewing action.