When I started selling captive-bred baby garter snakes in 2001, I wrote a care sheet — we call homemade care manuals “care sheets” in this hobby — for my customers and for people who were interested in learning how to take care of pet garter snakes. The care sheet was seven pages long. Friends who read it had two reactions: it was the best care sheet they’d ever seen, and boy did I ever overdo it. I was accused of being the most anal-retentive breeder in the reptile biz.
I shrugged. I felt very strongly that pet garter snakes should get the best care possible. I also felt very strongly that many of the books about garter snake care had some of their facts wrong, so, I thought, I should try to do something about it.
This Care Guide is descended from that early care sheet, though it’s been rewritten, revised and expanded since then. It’s meant for beginning snake keepers with a million questions, who need accurate and detailed information about how to take care of their garter snake — the keepers for whom other care guides generate more new questions faster than they answer the old one.
If you have questions about garter snake care, this is a good place to start. If you’ve read it all and still have questions, don’t despair. Poke through the Articles and Questions sections and read the FAQ. Be sure as well to search the Web for information on snake care in general: garter snakes aren’t that different from other snakes, and a lot of what goes for corn snakes and pythons is also applicable to garter snakes. But if all else fails and you’re truly stumped, drop me a line — but I have to say that I don’t know all the answers either.
This Care Guide is a living document, which is to say that I tinker with it a lot in hopes of making it better.
- This page explains what to feed pet garter snakes; what not to feed them; how much they should be fed and how often, how to do it, and what to do when a garter snake won’t eat.
- This page explains everything you need to know about how to set up a pet garter snake’s cage. This includes how big it should be, how to make it escape-proof, what it should contain, how warm it needs to be (and how to heat it), as well as whether it’s a good idea to keep more than one snake in the same cage.
- This page explains how to handle a garter snake, and how to deal with garter snake bites.
- This section deals with the most common health problems encountered in garter snakes, including internal parasites, vitamin B1 deficiency, blister disease, shedding problems, and mites.
- This page talks about hibernation: whether you need to hibernate your snakes, and how to do it.