A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Bike stops for snake; what kind is it?

Written September 10th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Up close, this little snake looked bigger than it really was. Another view is below.

When you’re on your bike in Albany, it’s not often that a snake crosses your path. When it does happen, you may want to stop and take a closer look, which is what I did one day last month.

On the way back from taking photos of Monteith Riverpark under construction, I was pushing the bike along an overgrown trail. That’s when I spotted the snake and stopped.

The snake didn’t move. It remained still on the ground long enough for me to unlimber my phone for a shot or two. Then it hustled away.

The obvious question: What kind of snake was this? I found a website on Oregon snakes put up by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. (If you’re interested, google “ODFW Oregon snakes” and you’ll find it too.)

The site shows 15 kinds of snakes, along with a photo of each. The one that most closely matches my photo is a Pacific Coast aquatic garter snake.

“This highly aquatic snake is found in wet meadows, riparian areas, marshes, and moist forests near rivers, streams, lakes and ponds,” ODFW says. “It requires streams with thick riparian vegetation for escape and exposed boulders for basking.”

Wet meadows? That hardly describes where this one was. It was resting in dead grass instead. But this was up above the Calapooia River, so the rest of the description fits, kind of.

But then, ODFW adds: “The Pacific coast aquatic garter snake takes aquatic prey such as small fish and fish eggs, salamanders, tadpoles, frogs, toads, earthworms, and leeches.”

It wasn’t going to find any of that on the park construction site. At least not until they install the planned children’s splash pad and the kids splash water around on the grass. (hh)


The snake in the grass before it slithered away, as seen over my handlebars on Aug. 25.

13 responses to “Bike stops for snake; what kind is it?”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    Certainly not an expert- “While the coloration of the common garter snake varies (green, blue, black, yellow, gold, red, brown, orange), the most defining and consistent feature is the dorsal stripe that runs down the length of its body.”

    I’m not sure if the dashes along the sides disqualify it as an “aquatic”.

    I’ve see a couple “extremely similar” snakes in my 40+ years in Albany. Both at least 6 blocks away from water. Periwinkle Creek and the Calapooia.

  2. MarK says:

    I found one climbing our 6’ vinyl fence the other day. Like you, I just watch them.

  3. Cap B. says:

    Poor snake. It is being affected by man-made climate change just like all of us (and by CARA’s aggravating tearing up of a park and a riverfront. I hope my comment gets your quadriga of conservative followers riled up and off their couches and onto their laptops with some comments. Tee, hee!

    When I was a kid, we called those snakes water snakes. I am glad you did that research. That is interesting to me. Thanks.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      ” I hope my comment gets your quadriga of conservative followers riled up and off their couches and onto their laptops with some comments. Tee, hee!”

      You pretty much said what you’re all about. NOTHING meaningful.

      • Cap B. says:

        Whoa! Aren’t you a delightful excuse for a human being…just casually throwing out comments that people have no worth! You’ll get our comeuppance one of these days, I’m sure.

      • William Gibbs says:

        I sure am glad Hasso is enforcing his civility standards; otherwise I would have thought you’re rude.

  4. William Ayers says:

    Happy to know it got away and didn’t get run over!

  5. chris j says:

    They are sometimes called red, yellow or blue racers by people depending upon their stripe color. They eat bugs and slugs too. Nonvenomous and good pest control. They do stink when you pick them because they produce an unpleasant odor as a defense. We do not see them as much due to pesticides, fertilizers and over zealous lawn care. Natural areas have their own maintenance and keep everything in balance if we let them. Thank you for the picture. It is nice to see a healthy little snake!

  6. Craig says:

    I spotted a three footer in Starker Forest on Sunday

  7. Mike says:

    That’s one of the good ones. Thanks for being careful around it and letting it slither away.

  8. Lundy says:

    Just pulled one out of our backyard water feature a few days ago — it probably couldn’t have eaten any of our sort of large goldfish, but I removed it nonetheless and turned it loose in the ditch/seasonal creek that borders our place. I love snakes. I’m sure the one I just caught/released wasn’t the first one to visit our little pond, and I’m equally sure it won’t be the last.

  9. Doug Baker says:

    Yellow Racer


HH Today: A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley
Albany Albany City Council Albany council Albany downtown Albany Fire Department Albany housing Albany parks Albany Planning Commission Albany police Albany Post Office Albany Public Works Albany riverfront Albany schools Albany Station Albany streets Albany traffic Albany urban renewal apartments ARA Benton County bicycling bike lanes Bowman Park Bryant Park Calapooia River CARA climate change COVID-19 Cox Creek Crocker Lane cumberland church cycling Dave Clark Path DEQ downtown Albany Edgewater Village Ellsworth Street bridge Highway 20 homeless housing Interstate 5 land use Linn County Millersburg Monteith Riverpark North Albany ODOT Oregon coast Oregon legislature Pacific Power Portland & Western Queen Avenue Republic Services Riverside Drive Santiam Canal Scott Lepman Talking Water Gardens The Banks Tom Cordier Union Pacific urban renewal Water Avenue Waterfront Project Waverly Lake Willamette River

Copyright 2024. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Hasso Hering