Garter snakes come from the Colubridae snake subfamily and are found within the continental lands of America. Usually, with yellow-striped sports patterns on their green, brown or black bodies, it is now more common to see other colubrids with different morph colorations in the pet trade.
Garter snakes vary in length depending on their species, but the most common are approximately 22 to 54 inches and weigh an average of approximately 5.5 ounces. When they are allowed to exist in nature, these tinny little snakes that are often found clustered together more than they are in independently, live up to approximately 5 years. That length of longevity extends doubly when bred and raised in captivity.
They are found in many regions, areas, and states of the United States of America. They are found in New Mexico, Oregon, and Mississippi. Others are found in many parts of California. Some others that call Chicago their home. You will also find many garter snakes in Texas.
Some of them are indigenous to areas like Hernando County in Florida. There are also those found in the eastern part of the Gulf of Florida coast. Others call the Pacific Northwest coastal zone, namely, Washington, their home. Garter snakes have also been imported abroad, such as Sweden and Canada.
There are species of garter snakes that are found along the eastern shores of Mississippi and then there are others that are widely distributed throughout New England. They prefer to live in areas close to any type of body of water, which makes them hunters and predators of most amphibians.
They can also be found frequently in urban areas. And these are not the type that your neighbor reptile lover has next door and took a pet; They have been seen in places where people are present, but where they are still mostly hidden from flat places, such as parks, sewers or ditches, old fallen logs, stone walls, forests, swampy marshlands, hillsides and the like, again, not too far from where there is some kind of body of water present.
Why Are Garter Snakes Good Pets?
These attractive, considerably small and generally docile snakes are easy to find and make it a pleasure to see them for hours. They are not aggressive and generally accept frequent handling by their owners.
Garter snakes get along relatively well with other snakes when they stay together with those that are not snake eaters. Be sure to research your existing pet snake to make sure it doesn’t take advantage of smaller snakes because there are species of snakes that eat other slithers.
You wouldn’t want that at all. When they stay with their type and species, you will find them socially active with each other.
They like to huddle together during the cold winter months and “steal” warmth from each other and keep each other company. As long as they stay with snakes of the same size that don’t try to gobble them up, they are great to be with other snakes.
Types Of Garter Snakes
There are more than a dozen types of garter snakes spread throughout the United States and North America. Most species and subspecies of garter snakes have reached other coasts and have been introduced in different countries, therefore, their popularity among herpetologists and reptile enthusiasts has become very popular worldwide.
In the wild, these garter snakes live up to 4-5 years given the conditions of being exposed not only to the elements but also have to compete with others for food, not only with their own sort but also with other animals that share ecosystems and habitat.
A very different picture is painted when they are in captivity, which exponentially increases their chances of survival and there have been many garter snake enthusiasts who have reported that their garter snakes live up to 10 years or so.
Eastern Garter Snake
The Eastern garter snake has an average of approximately 18-24 inches with females out-lengthen males. In addition to their striped pattern, Eastern garter snakes come in many different colors, such as black, brown and green, with clearly contrasting body stripe marks along their body in white or yellow.
Its name is due to its strap-like look. The Eastern Garter Snake is a new Latin term due to its striped pattern appearance. California Garter snakes surprisingly transform into two distinct colors of three stripes along its elegant body, typical of Garter snakes; and another with a lonely strip that records its long 18-55 inch spine.
Red-spotted Garter Snakes
These Garter snakes call the marshes, wetlands of western Oregon. They are also found in the coastal cities of California and SD County Valley.
This subspecies of the garter snake is a compelling vision with its deep ebony base scales, and a red-spotted cranium. It measures in at 18-52 inches and is one of the most common of its kind.
San Fransisco Garter Snake
Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia is native to the central-western part of California, particularly in San Mateo County in the brackish estuaries of San Francisco.
This beautiful and colorful species of garter snake, known as the San Francisco Garter Snake, is protected and unfortunately has been classified as endangered by law since 1969, citing the depredation of crayfish for its decrease in the number.
This means that it is illegal to keep or supply them unless the person intends to do so or we have been affected by government authorities and agencies to do so.
Santa Cruz Garter Snake
Santa Cruz Garter Snake found in the ranges of California and Oregon, the Thamnophis atratus atratus is a subspecies that surprisingly the color transforms from a single line of strips to 3 strips that run down its back.
Blue Striped Garter Snakes
Blue-striped garter snakes get their nickname from the blue streaks found in their spine, as well as dorsal scales just above the stomach of their elegant bodies. These snakes also have their own unique appearance due to their light brown spots on each side and placed in the middle of their striated dorsal scales.
The blue-striped garter snake is a kind of protected garter snake and it is illegal to have it as a pet or have it in captivity unless the individual who has one has permission to have it.
Another subspecies of the garter snake is Bluestripe. This garter snake matures to an average length of approximately 26 inches. It was recorded that the maximum length of a blue-striped garter snake is close to 40 inches!
The Mexican Garter Snake
The Mexican Garter snake used to glide in large numbers in Arizona, but now only a few groups of these beautiful sliders, slip, and crawler are isolated in the south-central region of the state, as well as the rim beneath it, so it is currently It is a protected species in Arizona with the mandate to leave it and not make any contact with it.
With a size of 44 inches, they come in olive-brown, other reddish-brown Garter snakes with a creamy fringe behind are vivid with fine dark lines that flank the distinctive cream fringe.
Valley Garter Snake
Vally garter snakes can be found in the many watersheds of California and its range is wide from Siskiyou County, Sacramento County, the foothills of Sierra Nevada, North Humboldt County and many other regions of this particular area of the United States.
Several species with varied patterns and colors, all sharing the same strip at the back and two flanking each side of the snake, prevail in these parts of California.
California Red Garter Snake
The California Red Garter Snake is one of the most colorful Garter snakes. With burning specks of red patterns on its predominantly black body with generally white, sometimes blue markings along its back and on each side of the snake, this elegantly beautiful beast is an impressive sight to behold, even more, when you notice its blue color sometimes. undercarriage.
It occurs in a wide range of watersheds and valleys, as well as in the swamps and wetlands of California. Red garter snakes have relatively larger eyes than other garter snakes and average 38 inches.
It is one of the best swimmers among Garter snake species and dinner in a variety of foods such as small frogs, lizards, the occasional bird, an unfortunate mouse in nature. It’s like most other Gartersnakes tolerant and immune to triton toxins.
Puget Sound Garter Snake
This mottled red-spotted snake native to the Washington regions grows up to a meter long. The Puget Sound garter snake is said to be easier to identify due to the difference in male and female tails; with the male Puget sound garter snake’s tail thicker and longer at the base.
While other snakes have no tolerance for newts, this Washington native has developed a tolerance for them while others do not.
Pros And Cons Of Garter Snakes
It is a bit difficult to mention the cons of owning a Garter snake because there are very few faults to find them. In addition to the usual things like special lighting, heating, temperature and humidity control, Garter snakes are a joy to observe and care for.
As mentioned earlier, they are quite peaceful and would be happy to be in a terrarium or nursery that would mimic their natural habitat. Its saliva has toxic properties for its prey, but they are harmless to humans.
A small number of people who have been bitten by garter snakes, in the worst case, will experience a rash that will disappear on its own soon enough.
A downside we can think of is that we are surprised by the number of live snakes a gravid female can give birth to if an owner has no knowledge of the gravid and birth process of garter snakes.
Be sure to prepare for more instead of less and set your expectations high to be prepared for the unexpected when caring for one or two very gravid females.
Snake Licensing To Keep Garter Snake As Pet
If you own a San Francisco garter snake, then you must have a permit to do so. If you are lucky enough to have obtained a license and are now keeping one, you should know that it thrives in a humidity range of 60 percent, it needs to be housed in an enclosure with temperatures ranging between 75 and 85 degrees F.
This native of the outback of San Francisco should also be housed in an enclosure with a heating pad (ideally located under its tank) with temperatures ranging between 90 and 95 degrees. Most garter snakes are common in the United States, except for the one we just said you need a special permit.
Otherwise, garter snakes of many species and subspecies are readily available in the reptile trade and are quite cheap to acquire.
The western land garter snake, as well as the plains garter snake, are also two other exceptions that they would need to obtain a permit depending on the number you wish to own and keep. These two subspecies of the garter snake can be proprietary, as long as an individual does not own more than a dozen.
Cost Of Owning A Garter Snake
garter snakes are born alive and the litter can be from 4 to 42 snakes, this can be a large average margin but it is also a reality. And if you start considering raising them, you will have to have deep pockets and a good solid plan at the beginning of taking pairs that can reproduce.
The availability of garter snakes in the pet trade is abundant and readily available. Therefore, the simple acquisition of one will not affect your wallet too much. It is the upbringing, maintenance and long-term feeding for what you want to prepare.
Depending on the simplicity or complexity of the home you decide to provide to your snakes, it will be a big factor in your finances. Many garter snake owners have experimented over the years on the easiest and most cost-effective methods of housing and feeding.
Again, depending on the number of garter snakes you have or decide to take in will also determine how many enclosures you will need to purchase, outfit with heating mats, thermal regulators, substrate and proper lighting. All these equate to initial purchases, i.e. machines that would heat and regulate the temperatures in the enclosures. These spell a monthly increase in your energy costs.
Food will not come cheap especially if you have a lot of these little monsters in your care. As you get to know your garter snakes so will you get to know their appetites; in the wild, they feed on fish, tadpoles, and frogs.
The diet expands a little more when garter snakes are raised in captivity. Garter snakes raised by loving humans at home feed on mice, pinkies, live fish, mealworms and earthworms.
So the truth of the matter is depending on how many you keep is how you will be spending.
Nutritional Needs of Garter Snakes
Garter snakes in the wild get the majority of their food around locations where there is water where there is an abundance of food sources they prey upon. Typical garter snakes have evolved to develop immunity to poisonous rough-skinned newts.
Whilst other snakes who may attempt to eat them could successfully get them in their mouths and systems, the poisonous newt toxins, called tetrodotoxin, would eventually get them in the end.
Garter snakes have developed a tolerance for newts at a level where the garter snake is actually able to absorb the toxin of the newt into their system which wards off would-be predators. This is an advantage to them because this makes them unsavory to their own predators.
Most garter snakes prefer to stick near waterways to hunt for earthworms, voles, fish, newts and the occasional small mammal that may unsuspectingly cross a garter snakes path.
Garter snakes in the wild would thrive on newts, small amphibians and mammals, fish, nightcrawlers, mealworms, slug to name a few. When in the care of a herp keeper it is important for the potential caregiver to introduce foods like pinkies as this will actually be readily more available and cheaper than fish.
You don’t want to raise choosy garter snakes, therefore, be patient when introducing foods.
Garter snakes are not big fans of insects so let’s just get that out there and out of the way so you need not have to learn the hard way.
Red wigglers are worms that produce a smelly, sticky, bitter orangey – yellowish slime that could most likely make your garter snake very, very ill which could actually cause it to die.
So be careful not to feed them these red wigglers marketed under names like trout worms, compost worms or Panfish. As much as possible feed them fresh food that has been recently cut up, i.e. earthworms, mealworms, nightcrawlers which bait shops carry.
If you are harvesting them yourself, then make sure that you are not collecting them from places where you know pesticides have been used.
Feeding Conditions And How to Feed Your Garter Snakes
Remember when talked about how housing, enclosures habitat, and feeding taking up a chunk of not only money, your careful efforts and time? Well, let’s discuss this more for a bit now.
Raising a number of garter snakes all at once will see you going through hits and misses on this one and we wish you all the good fortune and wisdom from the get-go so you get to raise them all well.
Do not attempt to place food randomly or just drop them into the enclosure like storm relief goods off of a hovering chopper lest you want to start a world war” of snakes. Your pet snakes getting hurt by another pet snake will not be a pretty picture.
Feeding will mean them in the same enclosure could spell mayhem and chaos which may even result in unintentional cannibalism.
Here is where your keen observations, imagination, and ingenuity come in. Some suggestions we have been placing the food of each of your garter snakes in a separate container and once all in, you can introduce each snake into each container.
Remember each container need not be an expensive sort, but ones that are clean for each feeding.
If there are only a couple of snakes to feed in one enclosure then make sure that you have a place for each of them all. Position dishes on separate corners so they don’t fight over once piece of a meal when there is enough to go around. Do this by putting each container dish of their preferred food in a separate place in the enclosure.
You may opt to use tongs to introduce the food to your garter snakes instead of offering chow with your bare fingers. We give a couple of more suggestions of how to feed them throughout the book, so you can check out and try some of these methods of feeding we suggest and learn a bit more on your own through experience.
As you see the mere method and routine of feeding your garter snakes will take up a lot of your time and effort. Hence, be ready and committed.
Feeding Amount and Frequency
How often you feed your garter snakes is something you will definitely need to pencil in into your schedule. Juveniles will need to be fed at least once a day but the feeding ratio and frequency will both increase as they grow.
Feed newborn juveniles immediately. After that, you can schedule feeding your garter snakes two times every week if you are feeding it mealworms, earthworms and nightcrawlers then you will have to set aside 2 weekly feeding schedules for each of the snakes.
If you are feeding the garter snake a more nutritious fare like pinkies or fish, you can stick to a once a week feeding schedule for them.