Sunday, May 12, 2013

Garter Snakes

Common Garter Snake
Photo by: Brian Gratwicke
While mowing my friend’s lawn, guess what I found slithering through the grass? (The key word here is “slither”.)

That’s right, a SNAKE!

I knew right away what I had found – a common garter snake. Since these cute little guys are harmless, I decided to scoop him up.

Creative Writers, we’ve found another MUSE!


Garter snakes are the most common snakes in North America. They are mildly venomous but harmless to humans. Even if they do bite you, the toxins in their saliva do not harm people. In fact, a garter snake’s bite hardly ever breaks the skin.

Garter snakes like to live near water. Here, they will find plenty of frogs, tadpoles, earthworms, slugs, and small fish to eat. They use a “grab and swallow” method to catch and eat their prey. Take a look at this video and watch a garter snake devour a worm.

Garter snakes hunt for prey during the day. And while they are hunting, other animals are hunting them. Hawks, eagles, and crows eat garter snakes. So do foxes, coyotes, and raccoons. Baby garter snakes are often eaten by bullfrogs.

Like many other reptiles, garter snakes hibernate during the colder months. They usually hibernate in large groups in a hibernaculum. What a HUGE word! Try sounding it out.

A hi-ber-nac-u-lum is a place where animals go to hibernate. For a bear this might be a cave. Garter snakes look for mild underground dens. Take a look at this video to see the largest garter snake hibernaculum in the WORLD!

One of the most interesting facts I learned about garter snakes is that they give birth to live young. Most snakes lay eggs, but not the garter snake. Sometimes a female will give birth to as many as 85 babies. Another snake that gives birth to live young is the ANACONDA!

A baby garter snake is usually about 5 inches long. An adult garter snake can grow over 4 feet long. They can live up to 15 years.
This is the garter snake that I found. He/she is probably just a year old.

Here’s another interesting fact. The garter snake is the ONLY snake that lives in Alaska.

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these WHAT IF questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF your main character was terrified of snakes and he/she had to go on a field trip to a garter snake hibernaculum?

WHAT IF your main character’s best friend was turned into a garter snake by his/her teacher who was secretly a witch?

WHAT IF the garter snakes had an underground city?

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

The word of the day is “reptile”. Here is the definition: any cold-blooded vertebrate in the class Reptilia, comprising the turtles, snakes, lizards, crocodilians, and various extinct members including the dinosaurs.

1 comment:

  1. What if a garter snake could fly
    what if garter snakes had giant ears
    what if garter snakes wore clothes
    what if garter snakes lived in long mushrooms
    what if garter snakes could walk around
    what if there was a garter snake king
    what if there was a garter snake police officer
    what if a garter snake could turn into an ugly witch
    what if garter snakes were poisonous
    what if a garter snake was made out of candy
    what if garter snakes were family pets
    what if garter snakes were 5000 feet tall
    what if garter snakes celebrated Easter and Christmas
    what if garter snakes smelled like flowers
    what if grilled garter snake tasted like chicken
    what if boiled garter snake tasted like candy
    what if garter snakes hopped like frogs
    what if garter snakes could slither through walls

    Professor KITTY (Morgan)