Friday, September 16, 2016

Life on the Watershed: Watch for Baby Snakes along the Sawyer Camp Trail

It’s been called “one of the most beautiful snakes in the U.S.”

And the early fall is when the endangered San Francisco garter snake numbers are on the rise, with females giving birth to about 16 young each.  The baby snakes are about 5 to 7 inches long at birth, the ones that survive will reach adulthood at age 2, and they can grow to about 3 feet in length.

The protected San Mateo County species travels between vegetation or burrows and nearby bodies of fresh water (such as Crystal Springs Reservoir). Its favorite food is the tree frog, but it also likes other amphibians, including bullfrogs and the California newt, which is poisonous to most earth species.

The San Francisco garter snake is not dangerous, and—if you’re lucky enough to encounter one along the trail some September day—chances are it will slither away to safety quickly.  So watch it while you can!

Photos 1 and 2 by Elizabeth Larsen, USFWS.


  1. I wonder if this is what we saw a few years ago! I love watching for snakes, lizards, deer... when we walk along the trail.

    1. It could have been the SF Garter snake. If yes, you were lucky--it's very secretive. And there's a lot to see these days. Happy trails.