I spent a couple nights looking for MBK's in Arizona a few months ago but their range in the US (for pure individuals and not intergrades) is very small (less than 100 square miles). I doubt I'll be spending any time on them this year, but next year I believe I'll be spending more time in Arizona as well as a trip herping in Mexico for a week or two.
Most, if not all of the MBK's you'll see in the pet trade are pure from Mexico stock, years ago. They're a pretty commonly bred snake here. In the US, they intergrade with Desert kings in a very small section of southeast Arizona, but I believe in northern Mexico they have a larger intergrade zone with California kings further west.
I love doing what I do. I spend a lot of time and put a lottt of work into it though. Haha. You're able to find two of the snakes I want to find most in your area though!
The ones in English pet trade are 50% of the time a mix. You see a lot of snakes labelled MBK, but they have a few very fine creamy speckles all over or/and their belly's have a lot of cream to them, they are still very beautiful though just mislabelled! Surprises me to hear they intergrade more with Calis than deserts though, for some reason I thought it would be the other way round!
I have never seen an adder, I keep my eye out for them as there are groups of them in the spring/summer that mate near dog walking paths. I have manages to see our grass snake though, swimming down rivers a few times they are so beautiful! I'd love to be able to see a lot of the snakes that are in the pet trade in their natural environment though. The closest I can get is my pets and fake plants lol.
As far as thier intergrades go in Mexico, I'm not 100% on which they have a larger intergrade zone with, BUT the CA's range from california into eastern arizona and from CA south quite a ways into mexico where as deserts don't really range into mexico much. Even pure MBK's will sometimes have some white speckling though. They're not always 100% black.
I've worked with a lot of Natricine species (mostly Nerodia and Thamnophis genera over here) so naturally Natrix (which is what your grass snakes are a member of) are of large interest to me, especially because of how similar they are to Thamnophis and Nerodia, depending on the species. Adders and other species of the Vipera genus are one of my biggest targets though, and I'm planning on doing a big Europe trip for multiple species in the next year or two. Plus I have a friend in Brighton that's been bugging me forever to come visit him. Hahahaha
You mean common name? They're California redsided garter snakes. They're really common in some spots in northern California, but some of the better looking snakes come from some less known, harder to access "secret" locales.
Yup. California has the best garters, in my opinion... Your Easterns up in Maine don't have nearly the variety that ours do back home. There is a big variety in easterns throughout the eastern US, but they still don't hold a torch CA's. Where I live now, however, we have the same ones as you guys.
Oh nice. Do you know who the breeder is? I used to work with neons and I'm one of the few that herp the main locality where they're from. I have pics of some on one of my old harddrives and on film that I need to scan one of these days.