Species group: Garter and Ribbon Snakes
Scientific name: Thamnophis sirtalis annectens
The Texas Garter Snake is one of the many subspecies of Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), and is native to parts of the central and southern United States, including Texas, Kansas and South Dakota. It is mostly found in dry and sparsely wooded areas.
The Texas Garter Snake is common within its range, and typically makes a hardy captive animal. In captivity, the Texas Garter Snake can be nervous, and while they rarely bite, they will musk when stressed - releasing a smelly liquid.
Appearance / health:
The Texas Garter Snake has a green-black back with an orange-red stripe down the center and yellowish stripes on either side of the body.
Behavior / temperament:
Texas 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).
Texas 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 good pet
pee, salmonella disease, poop
crickets, mesh lid, goldfish
Nice Snakes but they Can Bite!
I was young when I acquired my first garter snake. A friend had a very small one that had been obtained from a pet store, and based on a very brief experience with that one, I thought they were all easy to handle and didn't bite.
A few days later, I encountered a similar looking snake in my backyard which was on the edge of the city limits. The one I saw was bigger but seemed fairly sedate while sitting in the sun. When I reached down to catch it it began to slowly move away, so I was able to grasp it around the middle. I carried it to a cardboard box and while I was walking, I was quite shocked when it twisted around and bit me on the webbing between my thumb and finger.
I put the snake into the box and thought about the situation. There was no google then, but I felt fairly sure that garter snakes couldn't kill you. I decided it wasn't worth stopping my fun over (perhaps not a bright decision but turned out OK) and I took my new prize into my room.
Other than the rough start, the little snake actually turned out as a fairly good pet for me. I was able to get free food pretty much since we had tons of earthworms in the yard and we kept guppies so we typically had feeder fish. I found out that small mice are good food for them but I hated feeding it, but found chunks of larger fish to be a decent substitute as the snake got bigger.
My garter snake was fairly easy to handle once it got used to me, and it wasn't a fussy eater. I kept it in an old aquarium that was easy to clean. It stayed healthy and gave me little trouble most of the time. I would recommend garter snakes as pets even to pre-teens although I would highly recommend adult supervision and starting with a younger snake than I did..
From maddieg Sep 9 2014 6:51PM
Perfect for Novices and Pros
Texas garter snakes are not “starter pets” as some “experts” may claim, although, being quite hardy, they are suitable or novices. They are among the most active and interesting 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.
Texas 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 23 2016 4:04PM