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Garter Snake

Garter Snake species profile.

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The Garter snake (genus Thamnophis) is represented by 22 species ranging from Costa Rica to Canada and from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts.

Usually garter snakes are under 3 feet in length, but certain races can be over 4 feet in length. Most species have a well-defined stripe along the middle of the back that varies in coloration but is usually yellow, orange or red.


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These animals fare best in the typical colubrid cage with dry substrate, a nice hide area and ventral heating in the form of an undertank heater. They can be provided with a large water bowl for the occasional dip, but they should always be allowed access to a dry area. A 40-watt incandescent lamp used in conjunction with a UL-approved porcelain fixture can serve very nicely to set up a basking spot for these animals.

Garter snakes can be maintained on a diet of domestic mice.

Photo: Dick Bartlett