Garter snakes, also referred to as gardener snakes at times, are common garden snakes found in most of the United States and Canada. It is one of those species that would prefer to flee, rather than wait and fight. Their docile nature and the fact that they are non-venomous makes them the apt choice for those who are looking for something beyond dogs, cats, and songbirds.
Housing Garter Snakes
When it comes to housing, you will require at least a 10-gallon terrarium for this species. You will have to fill it with 2 inches of sand or soil. If the snake is larger in size, you will need a bigger tank as they are active predators and need a lot of exercise. You should also place a piece of bark in the tank as they need it to help them shed their skin. Garter snakes are semi-aquatic and therefore, you need to place a large dish of water in their tank.
In the wild, garter snakes are usually found under a pile of leaves or in tall grasses. They love to hide under logs and rocks, where they are safe from their predators. You will have to place some fake plants in the tank to help it hide just to feel safe in captivity. Cover the tank with a tight-fitting lid with proper aeration. These snakes are very good climbers and will get out of the tank at any given opportunity. Additionally, the tank should be kept at room temperature.
What to Feed Them?
Garter snakes eat a variety of animals, including mice, rats, fish, frogs, and other aquatic species. In the wild, they will even eat earthworms and slugs, if need be. In captivity, it can be fed mice, variety of earthworms, and even fish. As for young snakes, live guppies or smaller fish will be ideal. The large water bowl you place in the tank can be filled with live fish at the dinner time.
Your pet garter will love to get a live hunt right from their bowl. The snake will switch to its predatory mode and then you can watch him hunt down his meal. You can even try feeding him earthworms. Place them in a plastic tray and place it inside the tank. Make sure that you don't get these earthworms from some place that contains a lot of pesticides or chemicals. You can buy them from a pet store or obtain them from soil that has received a lot of rainfall.
Make sure that you don't restrict its diet to fish. If you are to fulfill your pet's nutritional requirements, you will have to add rodents and earthworms to its diet. You can also give it earthworms that are dipped in powdered reptile vitamins. That will be an apt choice as thiamine deficiency is commonplace in this species. You can feed it earthworms and occasional fish twice a week. On the other hand, those that only eat rodents can be fed once a week.
And the Handling Part
Garter snakes get used to people very fast. You need to allow the snake to slide over your fingers and then lift it up. You should support its weight and allow it to move around your hand as its glides through. Do not startle the snake, or else it will emit a foul-smelling liquid. With time, it will get used to you. After handling your pet snake, you need to make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly.
Like other species, even garter snakes shed their skin. You will have to get rid of this skin from the tank. If you keep two garters together, they won't attack each other, but may end up hurting each other if they try to eat the same thing at the same time. Small, easy to tame, and gentle, garter snake is a good choice for children over 6 years.