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Thread: Randall the Wandering Gartersnake

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    Randall the Wandering Gartersnake

    Three months ago, we found a garter snake roaming the rose bushes in front of our house. I was really surprised. Itís been a long time since Iíve seen one in the wild, but I can only recall ever seeing them near creeks and other healthy water sources. With all the cats and cars around in town, I figured he was a really lucky critter. He musked when I first picked him up, but never bit, and that was the only time he ever tried to skunk me or anyone else.


    First sighting beneath our rose bushes

    Doing a little research after that, I IDíd him as a Wandering Garter Snake ó Thamnophis elegans vagrans. Heís about 24 inches long and Iím guessing male because the tail after the cloaca doesnít quite seem to taper for about an inch or so.

    I havenít had a pet garter since I was a kid and had forgotten how awesome they are. Heís just an exceptionally beautiful snake. Bright eyed with a slight olive green tint up top and pastel bluish green gastrosteges beneathóand glossy like a moving ceramic sculpture. We handle him regularly and he is completely comfortable with thatóalways on the move, exploring and flicking, never snippy or skittish.

    He spent the first few weeks in a small 7-ish gallon tank, but is now set up in a better 20 gallon tank with trimmings to hopefully make it as pleasant for him to live in as it is for us to watch. Weíve had friends through the years that have had milk snakes, boas and kings, but I havenít yet seen any that compare to watching a garter just constantly moving and grooving, stretching and reaching around their environment.


    We have some extra faux-vine leaves and a climbing rock that we bring out and set on the table a couple times a week to let him crawl around and explore different layouts. Sometimes one of us will sit there and play or work on the laptop while he takes an extended tour. Thatís where I had been feeding him tooóbig earthworm on a paper towel in the middle of a temporary table garden. A little vitamin dusting on the worm once every couple weeks. He was ravenous the first couple months and at times would scarf his meal before I even had a chance to put him down.


    He shed twice in the first two months, but what I feared has now happened. He stopped eating in September, and has gone into enhanced exploration mode, so I figure heís hunting for a good brumation spot. Iím afraid heíll lose too much weight if I try to avoid brumating until itís too late. So I picked up a thermostat and separate heat mat to set him up in the smaller tank, out in the garage for I guess a couple months to reset his belly clock.


    Checking out the freshly assembled brumation hideout

    Iím really afraid we could lose him to that process. But also donít want him starving himself at higher metabolism in our indoor temperatures either. I wish I could be confident that after a couple months of not eating and warm temperatures, heíd figure it out and start chowing down againÖbut as far as I know, he could get sick and die of malnutrition first. So I guess Iím giving brumation a shot. The cage is covered in foil to keep it dark, thermostat programmed for 50 degrees F, water dish and cover added, and snake in residence. Weíre starting with two or three days indoors to start the dark. Then out to the garage for cooler temps. Weíre going to miss watching him roam and flounce around for a couple months.

    Iím definitely hooked on the gartersnakes though. This is an excellent forumóIíve learned a lot reading through the current and old posts. Thanks for that!

    Albert Clark and Peterra like this.

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    T. radix Ranch guidofatherof5's Avatar
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    Re: Randall the Wandering Gartersnake

    Nice to have you with us. I'd like to see an under tail photo.
    Looks
    femalish to me. Broad, thick head and overall size lead me to a female.

    Garter Snake Forum - Garter Caresheet
    Steve
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    http://www.youtube.com/user/thamnophis14?feature=mhee

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    Re: Randall the Wandering Gartersnake

    Awesome post, Jeremy! Looking forward to reading more -- and seeing some more great pictures.
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    Re: Randall the Wandering Gartersnake

    Steve and Peterra, thank you! Let me see if I can get a tail underside shot. At first I was thinking female, due to size and heft, but later, my rough guess on the tail seemed more like a male. But I also have zero experience with that other than comparing to internet photos. The cool thing is we had a backup plan to switch to 'Randelle' if we found otherwise on male/female

    Until I can get that tail shot...here are a couple others from our pre-brumation photo session the other night...



    You can see some chafing on the nose where he/she has been urgently prodding at the screen on the top of the cage the last few weeks. I need to figure out a way to keep that from happening in the future...maybe some stretched nylons on the underside of the screen or similar...


    ...and from a couple months ago when appetite was mighty...
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    T. radix Ranch guidofatherof5's Avatar
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    Re: Randall the Wandering Gartersnake

    Good looking Thamnophis.
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    Steve
    5 awesome kids!
    Emmy, Kale, Molly, Gabby, Hailee
    They are not just snakes. They're garter snakes.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/thamnophis14?feature=mhee

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    Re: Randall the Wandering Gartersnake

    Really fantastic pictures!
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    "PM Boots For Custom Title" Albert Clark's Avatar
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    Re: Randall the Wandering Gartersnake

    Amazing story, and the photos really put us right there. Yep, i say female too just by the head and body proportions. Can't wait to see the under tail shots. Thanks.
    Last edited by Albert Clark; 10-26-2017 at 12:27 AM. Reason: punctuation and grammar..
    Stay in peace and not pieces.

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    Re: Randall the Wandering Gartersnake

    Sorry for the distracting background, but hopefully it shows what's going on. I think the thing I fixated on was that the tail doesn't seem to taper until after the first 10 or 11 gastrosteges past the vent. But I'm sure I'm not quite interpreting that right. If this isn't a good angle, let me know and we can try another shot. Thanks for taking a look!

    img20171026-IMG_1817_1280px.jpg

  9. #9
    T. radix Ranch guidofatherof5's Avatar
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    Re: Randall the Wandering Gartersnake

    That is a big male. Proves tail/cloaca is the best visual sex indicator.
    Male would have been my other guess, so I was close.
    Steve
    5 awesome kids!
    Emmy, Kale, Molly, Gabby, Hailee
    They are not just snakes. They're garter snakes.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/thamnophis14?feature=mhee

  10. #10
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    Re: Randall the Wandering Gartersnake

    lol thanks Steve! I'm glad to have our eye on that.

    Just headed over to your YouTube channel...WOW!
    guidofatherof5 likes this.

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