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Garter Snakes Make Great Pets

Updated on August 8, 2011
Garter Snakes make great snakes but will escape easily so you need to think of your snake as a escape artist.
Garter Snakes make great snakes but will escape easily so you need to think of your snake as a escape artist. | Source

Garter Snake Care Sheet

Garter Snakes are active during the day and make great pets. You need to provide your snake with a light source but it needs to be a light source that is not going to throw off a lot of heat. You don't want to cook your garter snake. A 20 - 30 gallon aquarium makes a great enclosure for a garter snake. Garter Snakes are a very curious snake and will in time take food directly from your hand. But be warned that garter snakes are excellent escape artists and your cage top needs to be secured with clips or your garter snake will escape. One great thing about garter snakes is they do very little hiding so they should be out and about in their enclosure throughout the day.

Don't use cat litter, sand, or cedar, pine, or sawdust as substrate for your garter snake enclosure. While you can easily use shredded newspaper I recommend buying a large package of substrate for snakes from your local pet store. But shredded newspaper will work perfect as a substrate for your garter snake.

Keep in mind that almost all snakes need a place to hide and this includes the garter snake. It should be placed in a corner of the enclosure and there should be a couple of holes for the garter snake to go in and out.

You can dress your garter snakes enclosure up as much as you like. The more things you provide for your garter snake to climb on the better he or she will like it. Plants will make your garter snake happy.

Your garter snake will need a large water bowl it can get in and out of and the water bowl needs to be big enough for the snake to get in in case it wants to soak. Always keep the water in your garter snakes water bowl extra clean. If you see it the least bit dirty change the water. Your garter snake will like to swim so be sure the water bowl is large enough.

There are many different colors and sub species of garter snakes.
There are many different colors and sub species of garter snakes. | Source

A under the tank heater is perfect for your garter snake enclosure and ideally it should be under one end of the garter snake enclosure. You need a under tank heater that is thermostat controlled so you can set the day time temperature to 78 degrees and the nighttime temperature to 70 degrees. At those temperatures your garter snake should be active and enjoy life. Keep in mind that garter snakes are small and can get out of holes you would not think they can so be sure the top of your snakes cage is secured with clips so it will not get out.

Keep in mind that no matter what you've been told garter snakes do not eat crickets. In fact it is very hard for garter snakes to even digest crickets or other insects. The favorite food of garter snakes is red worms or small night crawlers. Do not however feed your garter snake red wigglers. You can also buy guppies ( fish ) and add them to your garter snakes water and the snake will enjoy the fish. You should buy a calcium supplement and dip your garter snakes red worms in the calcium supplement at least every other time you feed your garter snake. If you end up with a picky eater you may need to dip only one end of the red worm in the calcium powder. Once the snake starts eating the red worm it will eat the end with the calcium supplement on it. Some garter snakes will eat pinky mice. If your garter snake won't squeeze the juice from a red worm over the pinky mouse. If your snake will eat pinky mice it won't need a calcium supplement that often.

If your snake stops eating or will not eat give it time. Offer earth worms and pinky mice in a dish and leave them in a dish in the snake enclosure overnight. If it does not eat watch the garter snake to see if it is about to shed. Once a snake sheds it will usually eat with in a few days. If a new snake is put in an enclosure it is not unusual for the snake to go 10 days or more with out eating.

Do your research. If your going to be keeping garter snakes buy a good book about them and learn everything you can about garter snakes. You should find a good local veterinarian that is knowledgeable about snakes. Keep a journal about your garter snake and make careful notes about your garter snakes daily routine , what you feed it and when it sheds. Keep well detailed notes and you can learn a lot about your garter snake this way. If you take your garter snake to the veterinarian take your journal with you. Take photos of your garter snake often and add them to your journal.

Have you ever had a Garter Snake as a pet? Please post your comments or questions now. And thanks for reading.

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    • JohnM profile image


      7 years ago from Miami Florida

      Garter snakes are one of the few snakes that don't scare me. But I still don't want one in my pocket.

    • moonlake profile image


      7 years ago from America

      Our kids use to catch garter snakes, grass snakes, small pine snakes and some kind of black snake with orange spot. They would setup traps for them in the field by our house. They would have a bucket full of snakes and sit under a tree and play with the snakes, by evening we would make them let the snakes go.

      Good Hub.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 

      7 years ago from India

      Good Hub... Garter snake, i've learnt a new word really. The Garter snake, most widely distributed genus across North America, ranging from Alaska and Canada to Central America.. Thanks my friend :)

    • crazyhorsesghost profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Byers 

      7 years ago from East Coast , United States

      Thanks and yes I think garter snakes and common garden snakes are one in the same. Thanks for your comment. It is appreciated.

    • Theresa_Kennedy profile image

      Theresa Kennedy 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      Hey Crazyhorseghost, I really enjoyed reading this one about garter snakes. When I was a kid, we also called them garden snakes because they seemed to love hanging out in the garden. I assume they are one in the same name?

      Anyway, don't think I'll ever have one for a pet, but I loved them as a kid. I liked that they were almost always little, not scary, and best of all harmless.

      You seem to really know your stuff about snakes!


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