You are hereCheckered Garter Snake, Thamnophis marcianus marcianus

Checkered Garter Snake, Thamnophis marcianus marcianus

albino checkered garterIntroduction Checkered Garters range from central Texas westwards intro extreme southeastern California. They are a moderate to small snake topping off between two and four feet in length. They are frequently encountered in wooded forests, grassy fields and even along sandy shorelines. Checkered Garters are among the most popular and commonly encountered Garter snake in private collections. There are several morphs becoming available.

Acclimation and Quarantine Quarantine and acclimation enclosures need not be elaborate, but rather sterile and easy to clean. Plastic storage bins are often used for such enclosures as they are easy to clean, come in a variety of sizes, and most provide the security needed new snake. Paper towels, newspapers, or other easily cleaned materials may be used as the substrate. A few simple branches or pieces of pvc can provide climbing opportunities. And a ceramic crock could be used as the water bowl as these are powerful snakes and are likely to tip lighter dishes. A hide of some sort, and foliage should also be incorporated into the quarantine enclosure. This setup should be used until the snake is feeding regularly and appears to be in good health.

Housing Once the snake is acclimated and feeding well it may be put into a permanent cage. Garter snakes require enclosures relative to their body size. You don't want to put a 12 inch snake in a 5 ft cage, it would simply get lost. Neonates and juveniles can be kept in 10 gal. tanks or smaller. Appropriately sized plastic ware is also acceptable. Vertical space is not a necessity as these snakes are mostly terrestrial. A 20 gallon long will comfortably house an adult pair. Furnishing the enclosure is of personal preference. Branches can be used in the furnishing of the enclosure, however the snake will stay on the bottom most of the time. Hide boxes should also be placed on each end of the cage to provide the snake with a sense of security as they thermoregulate. Foliage may be added to the cage to provide the snake with more places to hide. For substrate, soil, mulch, ground coconut, and sphagnum moss are all acceptable and will help to maintain the proper humidity levels the snake needs to thrive.

Lighting and Heating There should also be a thermal gradient in the cage, so that the snake may choose the area of the cage where it is most comfortable. The warmest extreme of the cage should be between 85 - 90 degrees Fahrenheit, while the cooler side of the cage should be between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is extremely important that the snake is provided with this thermal gradient so they can escape the heat, if it is not provided, your pet may suffer from heat exhaustion and possibly die! At night there should be a slight drop in temperature, preferably of about ten degrees. This will help promote certain natural behaviors for the snake, and will also help to recreate the natural drop in temperature that the snake would experience in the wild. I prefer to use a fluorescent or incandescent bulb during the day to provide light. A heat lamp of appropriate wattage or heat pad should be all that is needed to heat the enclosure. We simply use a heat pad on one end of the cage to provide the proper gradient. Use of thermometers and or temp guns are highly recommended to ensure proper heat gradients. If you choose to use a heat light be sure to place it on one end of the tank and not in the center. By placing it on the end you ensure a hot spot and a cool spot.

Feeding Checkered Garters are normally pretty easy to feed and will accept a wide variety of prey items including frogs, salamanders fish, earthworms and fuzzy mice. Some will even accept Reptomin turtle sticks as part of their diet. They have are active snakes with a high metabolism and should be fed 2 -3 times a week in order to maintain good body weight. We recommend feeding be done in an enclosure other than what the snake lives in. By doing this you reduce the likely hood of an aggressive feeding response when you open it's cage. The feeding container can be bear bottom to ensure that the snake only swallows it's food and not any bedding which can lead to a mouth infection or an impaction in the stomach.

Water A dish of fresh water should always be available. Almost all species of Garter snakes love the water and can be frequently found soaking in their dishes, especially after a meal. With that said, they will often times defecate in their water dishes so keeping their water dish clean is of utmost importance.