Species group: Garter and Ribbon Snakes
Other common names: Puget Sound Garter Snake
Scientific name: Thamnophis ordinoides
Northwestern Garter Snakes are native to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. They are found in coastal areas and west of the Cascade Mountains from northwestern California to British Columbia, Canada. Their natural habitats include damp areas near bodies of water as well as meadows, thickets, grassy fields, and forest clearings.
Appearance / health:
One of the smaller Garter Snakes, the full-grown Northwestern Garter Snake averages 2 feet in length. Compared to the California Garter Snake, the Northwestern’s head is small, barely wider than the neck. The dorsal scales are keeled. The basic coloration is variable, ranging from gray or olive to brown or black. In most individuals, there are three visible longitudinal stripes that may be whitish or any shade of orange, yellow, green, blue, or red. The belly is yellow, brown, or gray with back or red spots.
Behavior / temperament:
Northwestern Garter Snakes are diurnal. They are shy and will rush to hide when threatened. When distressed, instead of biting, they dispel a foul smelling musk to repel predators.
Northwestern Garter Snakes are relatively small; therefore, the best cage is a 10- to 30-gallon dry woodland terrarium with a large bathing pan and accessories that provide hiding places, basking spots and climbing branches. Larger cages are ideal because they provide room for the snake to roam. The cage needs to be escape-proof.
Since Garter Snakes group together (in dens in the wild), especially when they hibernate, they can be kept and cared for as a group. Because they are active (enjoys slithering in and out of the water) and voracious eaters, and dispel foul-smelling anal musk when disturbed, their cage needs to have a quick-drying substrate and should be regularly cleaned. Water should be changed daily. The snakes should be allowed to hibernate in winter for 2-3 months at 50-60F (colder for those brought in from the northern regions).
Garter Snakes feed on earthworms, snails, frogs, and fish.
Northwestern Garter Snakes mate in early spring and give birth to live young in July to September.
wonderful choice, friendly pet, social nature, hardy reptiles, Low maintenance
British Colombia, Washington State, northern regions, smaller size, great swimmers
Don't Garter Your Heart From These Guys
It seems that I can't stay away from snakes, and it probably doesn't help that I'm not even trying one little bit! Misa is actually my boyfriend's snake, but I've spent a lot of time with her over the last year and a half. She handles extremely easily, and she likes it if you rub under her jaw. She's an albino garter snake, so she's got some really interesting coloring.
She's been really easy to feed. We have this big corner pond/pool for her to swim in, and we'll put a few frozen baby mice in there or some live feeder fish. Its fascinating watching her chase them and eat them. I think she really enjoys it too.
She has a really simple set up like most snakes. A decent sized tank because she's not big at all. She's the smallest snake I've ever worked with actually. She has a hollowed out log that she loves to hang out in, some fake foliage, and some bedding that she huddles down in.
This is a snake I'd recommend to start kids off with. They're not intimidating, and they aren't going to be too strong at all when they wrap around your arm. I couldn't be happier with her..
From BlackCatBlues Jun 11 2015 3:55PM
One of the Most Active Snake Pets
Northwestern garter snakes and their relatives seem often to be written off as “kid’s pets” – a grave error I can assure you! They are among the most active, interesting, and hardy reptiles one can hope for. What’s more, they will breed if given proper care, and produce large litters of live young – no hassling with delicate eggs and incubators! Garters are also an excellent choice for folks who do not wish to feed mice to their pets.
Most garter snakes are best observed rather than handled, although long term pets may “submit” to a bit of contact. Despite their small size, they are quite active and show themselves to best advantage in large, naturalistic terrariums. My experiences, and those of other keepers, indicate that low levels of UVB may be beneficial. They do fine at temperatures of 72-78, with a basking site of 84 F and are best kept on mulch, dead leaves and other substrates into which they can burrow.
Garter snakes take a wide range of prey, including frogs, toads, salamanders, fish and slugs. Many folks have reared them successfully on goldfish or shiners alone, but I prefer to add other tropical and native fish to the diet, along with earthworms. The Northwestern garter and some others will also take pink mice, but the long term effects of rodent-based diets have not been investigated..
From findiviglio Jan 13 2016 1:07PM
Calm Pet Snake
I had a pet snake for a little when I was young. I thought it would be a cool pet to show my friends when they came over. That excitement only lasted about a month. It was fun to show my friends and have them want to hold him and watch him slither around the house but honestly, I didn't think the clean-up and commitment was worth it. I didn't think too far ahead when I decided that I wanted to be a snake. It wasn't like my other pets. He was super friendly but it wasn't like a cat or a dog, or even like a rat that you could pet and feel the warmth from. It was actually quite boring to have a pet snake.
He was always trying to escape his cage, too! Once he did succeed because a friend forgot to put the heavy rock on top of the screen roof and he slipped right out! It was a scare but we eventually found him trying to make it up onto my sister's bed! I liked the pet but I wouldn't own another one..
From Kelli_Hogan Nov 6 2015 8:38AM