Alan Francis Garter Snakes – updated 2023


Alan Francis Garter Snakes

Updated 2023

Flames and Eastern Garter Snakes

Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis

High red flame garter snake

An exceptionally high red flame garter snake

flame garter snake

A more typical flame garter snake

The flame garter snake is not a recognised species or subspecies: more it is a colour variant of the eastern garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) found in the northeastern part of its range, mainly in Quebec. Some specimens can  be spectactularly red in colour, and selective breeeding has enhanced this. Often the red colouration improves as the snakes grow. 


newborn flame garter snakes

Newly-born flame garter snakes

Flame garter snakes can exhibit considerable varation, both within a litter of individuals, but also, within the same invidividuals over a period of time – with the amount, and the intensity, of any red or orange colour often improving over time.  

Newly-born flame garter snakes

three flame garters showing variation in colour

Variation in colouration of flame garter snakes

These three individuals, all young females, illustrate the degree of varition in colour than can be displayed by flame garters. This colouration isn’t always so apparent at birth.

Variation in colouration of flame garter snakes

Baby flame garters

Baby flame garter snakes

Flame garter snakes are generally quite mellow in their temperament, and are easy to handle. They lack the ‘excitedness’ that some of their western cousins (for example the California red sided garter snake, or the San Francisco garter snake) exhibit, and in particlar seem less willing to musk when handled.


They often can appear quite inquisitive in nature, and are the most likely to show an active interest at feeding time – in comparison with other garter snakes which may prefer to feed when undisturbed.

Baby flame garter snakes