SB Wildlife Care Network’s Patient of the Week: Common Garter Snake


Patient #3988 of 2021: Common garter snake
Status: Still in Care

This juvenile common garter snake was found in Goleta right before Thanksgiving in 2021. The snake was brought to SBWCN after it was attacked by a cat. Upon its arrival, patient #3988 was mildly dehydrated, covered in debris, and had a laceration on the left side of its body very near the heart. Initially, the team cleaned and bandaged the wound while stabilizing the snake for surgery. In order for it to properly heal, SBWCN’s veterinarian, Dr. Avery Berkowitz, performed an advancement skin graft to help suture the wound closed. Because of snakes’ shedding cycles, wound care can be a long process.

This snake has been in care for over eighty days. Along with the operation, the team has continued administering medication and providing supportive care as this patient recovers. Once the rehabilitation process is complete, the reptile will be ready for release. 

Common garter snake facts:

  • Garter snakes are one of the most prominent species in North America, living all around the continent ranging from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean and from California up to Canada. 
  • In the winter, garter snakes hibernate in dens called hibernacula.
  • Common garter snakes live in various habitats, including wetlands, ponds, rivers, grasslands, forests, and deserts. 
  • Garter snakes usually give birth to 20-40 young; however, some have been found with over 100 young in a single nest. 
  • Unlike most other snakes, they are ovoviviparous, meaning they give live birth to their young. 
  • They are excellent swimmers and hunters; their diet includes fish, amphibians, crawfish, worms, small mammals, and even other snakes. 

Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1988. For over 30 years, SBWCN has served to rescue, rehabilitate, and return to the wild sick, injured, orphaned, and oil-impaired wildlife in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties and to educate the public about living in harmony with wildlife. The SBWCN Helpline is available everyday from 9 AM–5 PM for animal emergencies and wildlife advice: (805) 681-1080. Donations in support of this work can be made at


Written by SBWCN

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