Snakes, New York
From the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry...
New York state is home to 17 species of snakes. These animals, whose tubular, limbless bodies are instantly and universally recognized, produce mixed reactions among people, from fear to fascination. Serpents figure prominently in the mythologies of nearly all human cultures; however, only in Christian religions are they a symbol of evil and temptation. It is perhaps for this reason that snakes often are persecuted and killed without any understanding of their true nature.
Snakes play critical roles in the environments where they occur, primarily by the position they hold in food webs in natural communities. Many snakes are top level predators; for example, a single rat snake can consume over 100 rodents a year.
common garter snake
Other snakes are important in the control they exert on insect and other invertebrate populations. All snakes form part of the diet of other predators such as hawks and foxes and thereby serve to link higher and lower feeding levels.
The most widespread and frequently encountered snakes in New York state are the garter snake and the water snake. Garter snakes use a wide variety of habitats, from woodlands to marshes to fields and exist quite well around human habitations. These snakes, like many other species, are variable in color and pattern; the basic color is dark brown or green with three yellowish stripes down their sides and back. They may reach lengths of two feet, but are typically smaller. They are completely harmless to people.