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.
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