Species group: Garter and Ribbon Snakes
Other common names: Red-barred Garter Snake
Scientific name: Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis
The Red-sided Garter Snake is found from Chihuahua in Mexico to the Yukon territory in Canada. It is found in a wide range of habitats including marshes, along streams, fields, woodlands and urban parks and yards. In the northern part of its range, the Red-sided Garter Snake hibernates for up to seven months a year in huge groups of several thousand snakes.
Appearance / health:
The Red-sided Garter averages 2 to 4 feet in length. It is similar in appearance to the Eastern Garter snake, but has red or orange bars between the back and lateral stripes. Coloration is dark green, brown to black with a light dorsal stripe. On the sides there are large red spots.
Behavior / temperament:
Red-sided Garter Snakes are active all day, but mostly in the warm afternoons for those living in the cooler northern regions. They are shy and usually appreciate peace and quiet, basking and soaking throughout the day. They can be gently handled, but will secrete a foul-smelling anal fluid as a defense mechanism. Some pet Garters eventually learn to enjoy being handled.
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. Day temp: 77-82F; night temp: 61-68F; basking temp: 86F; humidity: 50-60%; lighting: 12 hours, partly UV.
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).
Red-sided Garter Snakes eat earthworms, fish, pinkie mice, and small frogs. They are diurnal, so will feed during the day.
After hibernation, Red-sided Garter Snakes mate, gestate, and give birth to live litter of about 12 to 50 baby snakes from July to October. Mating occurs when several males swarm one or two females to form a “mating ball.”
fairly large tank, small teeth
Don't Write This Beauty Off as a "Kid's Pet"!
Red-sided garter snakes are not “merely kid’s pets” as some “experts” may claim! They are among the most active, interesting, and hardy reptiles one can hope for, and after a lifetime of working with snakes in some of the world’s greatest zoos, I remain enamored of them! 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..
From findiviglio Jan 17 2016 5:01PM