I was stacking firewood for the winter this weekend and came across a common garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis, sunning itself at the top of the pile. It did not seem too bothered by me and slowly moved through the stacked logs. I have often found discarded snake skins in our firewood, but this is the first time for me to see a live animal.
This snake is very common in New England and is fairly harmless—if handled or threatened, they can smear you with their pungent musk and may bite, but they are not venomous and the bite rarely breaks the skin. Small snakes mostly feed on earthworms and insects. Larger snakes, two to three feet in length, also eat amphibians and rodents. They will occasionally eat nesting birds. Click on the image for a larger view.