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How to Take Care of a Garter Snake

Learn how to take care of a garter snake in this Howcast video about pet snakes.


Can we keep garter snakes as pets? Yes, you sure can. One thing that's important to understand with garter snakes is number one, they can be finicky eaters sometimes. Because these guys can be used to eating fish, earthworms and things that we're not normally ready to feed our snakes, because they normally are more commonly eating mice and things. So it's very important to understand that, because when you get a garter snake as a pet, you need to ask the breeder has it been switched over to mice? Because they can eat mice their whole life and do very, very well, but it's very important because if they have not, then you're going to need to switch the snake over from earthworms and fish to mice.

Now some garter snakes won't do that, so what you'll have to do is the smaller ones will eat a few earthworms and they'll eat every few days. Now earthworms are not very nutritional. They're deficient in calcium, so if the garter snake is eating solely earthworms, you're going to need to supplement. Now a lot of times these guys will eat fish. Little guppies, Platys. Don't feed goldfish and there are several other fish that you shouldn't feed, and there's a lot of fish out there that have what's called thiaminase, which is an enzyme that breaks down B vitamins. So if they're solely on fish, then there's a possibility that we can have B vitamin deficiencies over time.

The one interesting thing about a garter snake over your more common pythons and king snakes, and milk snakes is a garter snake will eat on vision or they need to see their bait moving more than the other snakes. The other snakes it's more olfactory and heat and things of that nature. They don't necessarily have to see movement. But these guys like to see many times that their bait moves. Okay, well feeding a fish, guppies I like the most, head first and they'll see them moving.

It's very easy for them to take them or putting the fish in a small, little bowl. These guys are not aquatic snakes. They don't swim and they don't live in water, although they'll eat fish. That's a very important fact to know about your garter snake. You can feed fish fillet, but again fish fillet can sometimes be a little nutritionally deficient. So my message to you, yes we can have garter snakes as pets. They make very good pets, but we need to make sure that, either they are already eating mice, or be ready to get them on mice. It's healthier for them, they do better and you can enjoy them for a long time.

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