Garter Snake Diet

Because they are reasonably innocuous and one of the most prevalent snake species in North America, garter snakes are sometimes kept as pets. These snakes do have a somewhat neurotoxic venom, but it is not harmful to people, and they don’t often bite. They seldom attempt to bite and have a strong, unpleasant odor that is difficult to get rid of.

You might be curious in what these snakes consume as they are frequently seen in backyards and are frequently kept as pets. We examine what these snakes eat in the wild and how to feed them as pets in this article. Let’s get going!

What Do Garter Snakes Look Like?

There are 30 recognized variations of the garter snake, which come in a diverse range of colors and patterns. However, the majority of garter snakes have three longitudinal stripes that run down their backs and sides.

The color of these stripes might vary according on the species, although they are commonly yellow or green. Some contain extra color blotches in the spaces between the stripes, while others hardly have any discernible stripes at all.

The majority of garter snake species are only 23–30 inches long on average. However, some species have been seen to grow as long as five feet.

Garter Snakes Habits And Biology

Garter snakes are very adaptive serpents that are virtually ubiquitous. Although they are not uncommon in urban settings, their typical habitats are forests, fields, and gardens.

Garter snakes typically measure less than 30 inches in length, making them tiny reptiles (76 cm). Some individuals can, however, reach a height of 5 feet (1.5 m).

Garter snakes don’t often deposit eggs. Instead, they give birth to live babies, typically in litters of 15 to 20. Biologists do note instances where the mother snake gave birth to more than 80 snakes in a single delivery, though.

There is, however, an exception to this rule. A maximum of 20 young can be found in each tiny litter of eggs laid by aquatic garter snakes.

The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) lists 30 distinct species of garter snakes. On their backs, they all have three distinct, lengthy stripes.

Some species’ stripes are scarcely perceptible, while others have extra colorful decorations between the stripes. For instance, the Texas Garter snake has two pale lines around a strong red stripe in the center of its back.

The Checkered Garter snake, on the other hand, has three delicate lines. As the name implies, the body of this animal is decorated with a black checkered pattern.

Garter snakes are typically cautious, solitary animals, but during the winter they frequently hibernate in huge numbers. During hibernation, a snake nest may contain 1,000 snakes. Additionally, garters don’t mind other snake species sharing their nest.

Garter snakes can be seen basking in the sun on rocks next to ponds or rivers as soon as spring arrives. They are excellent swimmers, though, and will dive into the water the moment danger appears.

Are garter snakes dangerous?

You notice a thin and little animal slithering away while walking your favorite dog, playing with children in the yard, or working in the garden, and you feel a bit uneasy.

Have you ever experienced it? The good news is that ordinary garter snakes are not deadly, and their slim form was the only way they could enter your home or yard.

But first, how would you determine if it was a common garter snake? How would you accurately recognize the snake and guarantee the protection and safety of your family? Continue reading.

To begin with, an ordinary garter snake—young or old—is not toxic and is not a threat. These species, which prey on tiny rodents like moles and mice, are a natural aid in reducing pests in your yard.

The common garter snake can thus be of great assistance if you are having rodent problems. Even though we may caution you that common garter snakes have small fangs that might bite you, getting the right medical care could help you recover from the incident.

The only potential drawback of their bite is the possibility of developing an allergy to their saliva or experiencing mild itchiness or swelling. Everything would be fixed by properly cleaning the bite mark.

The garter snake’s strong, repulsive odor, which serves to repel any attackers in close proximity, is another important consideration. You may also advise your kids to avoid any creepy crawlies they encounter in the wild, even if they aren’t harmful.

What Foods Do Garter Snakes Eat?

The more than 30 distinct species of garter snakes are strict carnivores, much as all snakes. This indicates that they only eat flesh from other animals and do not consume any plant things.

They prefer to target smaller, weaker creatures that they can ambush and devour whole because they are one of the smallest snake species and lack strong venom or the capacity to constrict their victim.

Animals that are already dead or rotting won’t be consumed by garter snakes either! For them to be interested, the prey must be alive. However, because they are simple prey and contain a lot of protein, they will occasionally consume eggs from smaller birds and reptiles.

What Do Garter Snakes Like To Eat Most

Carnivores include garter snakes. They are said to be gardeners’ best allies since they destroy tiny pests that harm plants and produce.

Garter snakes rarely eat at night and often hunt in the morning or the evening. Nevertheless, because they are adaptive animals, these serpents won’t pass up the chance to eat when something delectable surfaces.

When it comes to their food, they are also not very picky. For instance, despite having a poisonous substance on their skin, these snakes may consume toads. Other creatures are rendered inert by this poison, but garters are unaffected.

The size of the meals is the sole restriction. A young Garter snake can easily consume fish and snails but cannot swallow a huge fowl or chicken. Your snake’s list of prey expands as it gets bigger.

Luckily, since cats and dogs are too big to gulp, you won’t have to worry about it swallowing your other pets. Nevertheless, if you have a hamster, keep it secure.

A poison in Garter’s saliva paralyzes the victim. The snake then consumes its victim fully, relishing it afterwards.

Garter Snakes’ Diet in the Wild

Garter snakes, like many other snake species, eat a variety of different things in the environment to acquire a balanced diet. If fish are present, they may eat a variety of fish species, although amphibians or small mammals are their preferred prey.

Garters also enjoy eating slugs and leeches, and some of them have even been observed to occasionally consume tiny snakes and lizards.

Small frogs and toads make up the majority of the food of wild Garters, however they will consume any that can fit in their mouths. Earthworms, particularly nightcrawlers, are also a favorite food of garters, especially young ones.

Although mice and other small animals are frequently consumed by many Garters, since they spend much of their time near water, fish and tiny amphibians make up their major diet.

How Do Garter Snakes Hunt Prey?

Despite their diminutive size, garter snakes are expert predators who ambush their victims with their lightning-quick reflexes. They also have acute senses of smell and superb vision. Their keen senses enable them to track down and pursue their target without instantly announcing their position to the prey species.

The tongue of a garter snake rapidly shoots out of its mouth, flicking at the ground and the air to gather odors and convey them to its vomeronasal organ, also called a Jacobson’s organ. The roof of their mouth houses this organ.

The information is then interpreted by their vomeronasal organ, which also helps the snake locate surrounding predator animals as well as determine what sort of prey is nearby and how far away it is.

A garter snake will wait for the ideal opportunity to attack before suckling its prey entire after finding its next meal. The animal is then carefully moved down their digestive track using the strong muscles throughout their entire body.

It’s interesting to note that, despite long-standing beliefs that garter snakes were non-venomous, more recent study has revealed that their saliva actually contains a very mild neurotoxic venom.

The venom is weak and non-lethal to humans, despite the fact that it is relatively effective for hunting smaller animals, especially because garter snakes lack the hollow teeth required to consistently and successfully deliver it to their prey.

What Animals Eat Garter Snakes?

Garter snakes are frequently preyed upon by many bigger species, including other snakes, due to their tiny size and lack of many defense systems.

More precisely, when on the prowl for prey, garter snakes must be on the lookout for a wide variety of mammalian, avian, aquatic, and reptile predators.

Garter snakes only only one defensive mechanism, however it is a reasonably effective one given their fragility and tiny size. They have glands around their cloaca that have the ability to release an offensive-smelling fluid, which serves to ward off some predators!

Garter Snakes’ Diet in Captivity

You should try to replicate the diet of a wild Garter as closely as you can while caring for one as a pet. The greatest option is variety, but that isn’t always available, therefore frozen or live mice are the best options.

Because mice are more nutrient-dense than items like frogs or fish, entire, frozen mice will provide your snake with all the nourishment it needs. However, some garter snakes might need to be trained to eat them, so you might need to supplement their diets while you wait for them to become acclimated to eating mice.

Frogs are difficult to locate and may be infested with parasites, while captive Garters will adore them, so you should avoid giving them to Garters. Although occasionally delicious, fish lacks complete nourishment, and the same is true of leeches and snails.

Earthworms are easily discovered in your yard, but you should slice them up before feeding your snake since they are tough enough to escape its jaws! Red wrigglers shouldn’t be given to them since they are allegedly poisonous to garter snakes.

Additionally, earthworms lack calcium, so if you only give worms to your Garter, you’ll need to add calcium supplements.

The best alternatives for captive snakes are typically mice because it may be illegal to take lizards, frogs, or other snakes from the wild.

Do Garter Snakes Eat Dirt?

Garter snakes do not consume dirt since they are carnivores. Simply said, it lacks any nutrients that a snake would require. The young, however, may be seen gliding through sand, mud, and leaves in search of earthworms and other tiny invertebrates.

Cleaning the area surrounding the snake will help you scare it away if you see one in your yard. Cut the shrubs, trim the grass, and take out the pebbles and leaves. If there is nowhere to hide, this snake will depart since it wants to stay away from people.

Do garter snakes harm humans?

You’re lazily strolling around your garden when you discover a reptile-family member animal with spotty skin. Be at ease, though! You won’t die from these garters, I assure you.

The truth is that just 21 snake species found in the US have the ability to kill you with a bite, and tiny, slender snakes like common garter snakes are harmless. Let’s learn more about whether or not common garter snakes are hazardous to humans.

Because they are non-venomous, common garter snakes have been deemed harmless to people, whether they are young, adults, men, or females.

The finest feature is that, unless provoked, they will not bite members of the human population; yet, if mistreated, all they will do is urinate or release musk. They’re a little repulsive, but at least they won’t hurt you too much, right?

The lack of poison in ordinary garter snakes is another reason why people keep them as pets. Due to their ease of handling, common garter snakes have become popular pets in North America. The garters are also said to be wrigglier than other snake species, which is a fun fact.

The garter snake would also be able to subsist on fish if you or the place where you buy food for your snake was lacking in rodents. Yes, common garter snakes kept in captivity could survive on nothing but fish.

Common garter snakes don’t contain poison, unlike cobras, vipers, and rattlesnakes. Even yet, certain garter snake subspecies contain poisonous saliva that is deemed venomous but not to humans. So once more, getting bitten by the garters is unimportant.

If you were bitten, make sure to properly clean the bite wound to prevent infection. If you have any health problems, such as nausea, vomiting, trouble breathing, or disorientation, go to the hospital right once.

Itching and swelling in humans following a bite may be symptoms of an underlying medical issue or an allergic reaction in certain people. Consult a doctor right away if you’re unsure whether the snake that bit you was a garter snake.

In fact, if you have a pet dog, the toxin of ordinary garter snakes might irritate them as well. If your pet dog and a garter snake share a home, keep a watch on them to make sure they don’t interact too much. If your dog gets hurt, be sure to treat it properly.

How to Feed Garter Snakes

Depending on their size, age, and the food you choose to feed them, your Garter will require different amounts of food more frequently. For example, worm eaters require more frequent feeding than mouse eaters.

Although juvenile snakes can be fed more regularly since they are still growing, worm eaters should typically be fed two to three times per week and mice-eaters once per week. Juveniles and worm-eaters are difficult to overfeed, but while feeding mice, you must exercise caution because your snake might easily gain weight.