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Thread: Coast Garter Won't Eat (4.5 months without food)

  1. #1
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    Coast Garter Won't Eat (4.5 months without food)

    Hi there,


    Wish my first post was a more upbeat one but I'm at a loss on what to do about my snake not eating? The snake is a wild Coast Garter I rescued from a sticky mouse trap at work in June of 2017. It's about 24 inches in length and was eating a pinky or two every week since I have had it until the very beginning of October, 2017. At that point, it just stopped eating and would hide away from any food offered it. I tried: night crawlers, and even thawed frozen goldfish but it wouldn't touch anything. After reading a ton on brumation, I figured the snake was just gearing up for winter. I brumated it from November 28th, 2017 until January 23, 2018. It came out of the two month brumation looking healthy and not thin and I figured it would be totally ready to eat again. However, this was not the case. The snake still has not eaten anything since the brumation ended. Even though it appears healthy, I'm getting worried as it's been nearly 4.5 months with no food! At this point, the snake spends most of the day hiding under moss in the terrarium on the cooler side. Any help would be very appreciated.

    Many thanks,

    Heiko

  2. #2
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    Re: Coast Garter Won't Eat (4.5 months without food)

    How hot is the warm side? Under tank heat or lamp? If you do have a lamp is it on a timer? What size enclosure?

    What is your method of presenting prey? Tease feed? Water dish drop? Drop it in anywhere? If tease feeding do you use feeding tongs or your fingers?

  3. #3
    "PM Boots For Custom Title" Albert Clark's Avatar
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    Re: Coast Garter Won't Eat (4.5 months without food)

    Firstly, always look to your husbandry for the reasons why a animal is off food for extended periods. Illness is another reason why. Last is mostly injury but certainly can be seasonal and the time of year. Sometimes the animal may be inclined to forage and will want to "hunt" for food ( which is more natural) especially for a wild caught individual. As Reedsbreeds suggested, start with the enclosure and the temps and light cycle you have in place.
    Stay in peace and not pieces.

  4. #4
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    Re: Coast Garter Won't Eat (4.5 months without food)

    Hi there,

    The enclosure is a 10 gallon tank. I have a very small UTH on the warm side that is always on. I use one of those dual dome light combos with one 100 W daytime bulb and a 40 W nighttime bulb. The daytime temps are: 84 F on the warm side down to 74 F on the cool side. The nighttime temp is 75 F. The daytime bulb is set on a timer to be on from 10 AM to 10 PM and the nighttime bulb is on the opposite schedule: 10 PM on to 10 AM off. She has a small water bowl big enough to soak in on the cool side of the tank. The substrate is 1.5 inches of Sphagnum moss. She usually burrows but also has two carved out half logs as hides in each side of the tank.

    For feeding, I've used tongs and tease fed her pinkies in the past which was successful until this past fall. I tried giving her a night crawler tonight in a separate barren plastic temporary enclosure where she and the prey were left alone for 30 minutes but no luck with this either.

    Hope this helps paint a better picture.

    Thank you,

    Heiko
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  5. #5
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    Re: Coast Garter Won't Eat (4.5 months without food)

    I think you might have to try some other food options or scent the mouse with something else, if you can buy a frog leg or a piece of fish and thoroughly rub the pinkie with it you may be able to get her to take the pinkie, if not try feeding the fish(guppies, mollies, silversides, smelt, salmon, etc) or a piece of frog leg.
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  6. #6
    Juvenile snake Qwerty3159's Avatar
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    Re: Coast Garter Won't Eat (4.5 months without food)

    What are you measuring the temps with?
    To me an 100 watt bulb and a heat pad for such a small tank seems a bit overkill, is it possible it's too hot in the cage?
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  7. #7
    "PM Boots For Custom Title" Albert Clark's Avatar
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    Re: Coast Garter Won't Eat (4.5 months without food)

    Quote Originally Posted by frost View Post
    Hi there,

    The enclosure is a 10 gallon tank. I have a very small UTH on the warm side that is always on. I use one of those dual dome light combos with one 100 W daytime bulb and a 40 W nighttime bulb. The daytime temps are: 84 F on the warm side down to 74 F on the cool side. The nighttime temp is 75 F. The daytime bulb is set on a timer to be on from 10 AM to 10 PM and the nighttime bulb is on the opposite schedule: 10 PM on to 10 AM off. She has a small water bowl big enough to soak in on the cool side of the tank. The substrate is 1.5 inches of Sphagnum moss. She usually burrows but also has two carved out half logs as hides in each side of the tank.

    For feeding, I've used tongs and tease fed her pinkies in the past which was successful until this past fall. I tried giving her a night crawler tonight in a separate barren plastic temporary enclosure where she and the prey were left alone for 30 minutes but no luck with this either.

    Hope this helps paint a better picture.

    Thank you,

    Heiko
    Nice. Kudos to you for the timers on the bulbs but what Qwerty says is paramount. The uth (even small ones) can generate excessive heat if its not regulated by a thermostat or rheostat! I would unplug the uth immediately if it is'nt on a thermostat. Always feed the animal in its enclosure rather than a separate tub. Especially if they are having feeding issues bc it only adds to the stress factor.
    Reedsbreeds and frost like this.
    Stay in peace and not pieces.

  8. #8
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    Re: Coast Garter Won't Eat (4.5 months without food)

    On my ten gallon set up a simple 70 watt incandescent bulb puts the hotspot around 90 maybe over, and at 24" long it might be time for an up-tank. But if he's used to the set-up he's in try waiting a lil longer before upgrading enclosure size. And try this day length trick first

    try increasing his day length to between 14 and 16 hours. Give it a couple days, then try feeding again. Skip right ahead to Live scented prey. Using worms or fish. If scenting doesn't work I might recommend braining pk or ft. After he's eaten a couple times then attempt offering pk or ft again

    But it sounds like youve got a handle on what your doing. By keeping day length over 12 hours I've never had an animal go off feed due to seasonal reasons,

    If I'm preparing to brumate I change the cycle to 12/12 when I start fasting. (Sounds like grow talk!)

    On top of that I agree 110% with albert

    One more question. Is it a slide top tank? Either way does it get jarred or shaken when you open it to offer food? I got a garter that if the enclosure moves at all or the top opens in a jarring manner its not interested in food, but if I open it slowly enough it takes anything offered
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  9. #9
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    Re: Coast Garter Won't Eat (4.5 months without food)

    Thank you all for your help with this. I'm still having no luck with any of the food options even after messing with the light and heat. I think I will release it back into the wild in the next day or two as it's nearly spring here on the west coast.I want to try and do the best thing for the snake and it appears to be beyond my aid. Thanks again and perhaps I will try a captive bred garter snake in the near future.

    Hope you all have a great weekend,

    Heiko

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