» Garter Caresheet

Garter Snake Care Sheet

Garter and ribbon snakes make wonderful pets. They are active during the day, especially if provided with a light source, and are very curious and inquisitive creatures. Whereas many snakes will hide for most of the day, garter snakes do very little hiding and actively move about their enclosure and sit out in the open. They can very readily become conditioned to take food directly from the hands and for the most part, are easy to tame and handle (there are of course, exceptions to this).


Housing

At an absolute minimum, the length plus the width of an enclosure's floorspace should equal the length of your snake. This, however, often restricts movement and encourages a sedentary lifestyle, which is fine during brumation, but not appropriate for daily living conditions. Activity levels increase as floor space increases, so garter snakes are generally more active in larger enclosures. A standard ten gallon aquarium here would be the minimum recommended primary habitat for a single, adult male garter snake or 8-10 newborns. Multiple snakes require even more space to avoid stress-related suppression of the immune system. Most female garter snakes will eventually outgrow a ten gallon tank.


Glass tanks, plastic manufactured, and plastic tubs all make good housing. One thing that is absolutely necessary when keeping snakes is to be sure that no matter what type of cage you use, it must be very secure. Snakes are escape artists, and especially garters because they are very curious and thin, allowing them to squeeze through spaces you would not even think were possible.


There are a few basic elements to housing, these include the Substrate, cage furniture, water supply, and heat source. These are all things that are very important in making your garter snake healthy and happy in his home.


Substrate

Substrate is the material that is used to cover the floor of your cage. There are a wide variety of substrates to choose from, but some are better than others and some should be avoided at all costs. Your substrate, whatever the choice, should be kept dry. Prolonged exposure to a moist substrate will surely cause blisters on your snake, making him sick and even possibly killing him.


Substrates to avoid:

Sand of any kind - it irritates the snake's scales, eyes, sticks to food, and if ingested in can readily cause impaction.


clay cat litter of any kind - for the same reasons as sand, not to mention its extremely dusty and would irritate their respiratory tract


Cedar shavings, pine shavings, sawdust - both cedar and pine are very bad for a snake's respiratory tract


Gravel - Gravel is non-absorbent and is a very bad choice for snakes. It traps urine and feces, and does not soak them up and will breed heavy amounts of bacteria, causing your cage to turn into a cesspool.


Corn Cob - it's easily accidentally swallowed during feeding, and will not soften or break down. Baby snakes are especially at risk and are practically guaranteed death if they ingest even a single piece of corn cob.


Dirt - plain dirt dug from outside. Contains mold spores, organisms, and microorganisms that while outside can be fine. But indoors can mold, bacteria populations can explode. Bottom line is, dirt is dirty. Best to avoid it.


Substrates that are O.K.

Newspaper - Newspapers are cheap if not free and readily available, it is also fairly useful if you need a simple setup, (in the case of monitoring a sick snake, or constant substrate changes to clear mites etc. ) It's not the most aesthetically pleasing covering, and also not the most natural for your snake. Take care that it does not get too wet, paper is fairly absorbent, but care must be taken to not let it get moist as this can cause blistering on your snake. Newspaper is very inconvenient if you own many snakes because the entire cage must be taken apart every time the snake soils it so that you may replace it with fresh. It cannot be spot cleaned.


Paper Towels - Very similar to newspaper, an ideal substrate for monitoring a sick snake (looking for mites, colour of feces etc.) again though not that aesthetically pleasing, great absorption rates, but can get 'mushy' if too wet. Always replace if wet. Again it is easy to get hold of, cheap and easy to use. It's great to use if you need a sterile environment for an injured snake.


Cage Carpet - Strongly resembling felt, it looks nicer than paper towels or newspaper. It comes in a variety of colors (red, blue, green, black) and can complement your snake's coloration. It's easy to see when snakes have defecated, but thoroughly cleaning it without removing it is practically impossible. It is not absorbant, so liquid and smaller waste products filter down through the astroturf and often lie on the bottom of the enclosure. The obvious presence of feces causes the owner to remove the cage carpet and clean the snake's enclosure more often than might occur using more natural substrates. The sheets are easily removed and replaced, so it's more convenient to have at least two pre-cut sheets of astroturf for each cage. One replaces the other when it's being cleaned. After one sheet has been removed, it's easy to clean the remaining waste products from the bottom of the enclosure with a mild bleach solution. If it isn't precisely cut to fit the enclosure, garter snakes will get underneath it and disappear from view. This can be annoying. For snakes that poop as much as garters do, cage carpet may work but is not the best option.


Aspen Shavings - Aspen is the safe alternative to cedar and pine shavings. It's not harmful to the respiratory tract and has a pleasant sweet smell. It's absorbant and inexpensive. One downside to aspen is that it sticks very readily to anything wet, and since garter snakes eat mostly wet and sticky things such as worms, fish, and thawed mice, care must be taken that it is not ingested during feeding.


Wood Bark Chips - This really does look good in a vivarium, very natural and of odd shapes and sizes. This can be obtained from a number of places; pet stores often stock it, one popular brand is Reptibark. but it can be very expensive to buy it this way. Garden centers sell larger bags much cheaper; however this will not have been treated to remove all mites and flies etc and also maybe too damp at first. Allowing it to dry, and then freezing it to kill any organisms should solve those issues. If you purchase mulch from a garden center, be sure to check that it is not dyed or treated with any chemicals, and that it is made from a safe source of wood such as hardwood or cypress. Avoid bark from cedar, pine, and juniper trees.


Newspaper Pellet - This is my (aSnakeLovinBabe) most absolute favorite substrate. It is highly absorbent, easy to spot clean, and does not readily stick to food like most other granulated substrates such as shavings, bark, etc. It's made from recycled newspaper and is commonly sold packaged as cat, rabbit, and ferret litter but is safe for reptiles as well.


Alfalfa Meal - This is very similar to newspaper pellet in texture and function, but is sometimes easier to find and may or may not be cheaper. Alfalfa meal can be found packaged as bedding for reptiles and also simply as rabbit chow. Alfalfa meal turns to complete mush when wet, making it one of the safer substrates to be accidentally ingested because in a small quantity should pass harmlessly through the digestive tract.


Carefresh - Carefresh and other similar products are made from recycled paper pulp. It's soft and very absorbent. Snakes love to burrow into carefresh. It is easy to clean and is an all around great substrate. It does stick to food easily but that's really it's only downfall besides it is one of the more pricey substrates.


Reptile bark - Sold under several brands, made from 100% douglas fir bark, is cleaned to be relatively dust-free, sized appropriately, resists mold, contains no irritating oils, cuts down on odor, smells nice, and looks nice but is also expensive. If you're keeping only one or a few tanks and prefer a natural look, this might be for you. Might be harmful and cause impaction if swallowed however. May be combined with coconut fiber substrate or used alone. It is sold mixed with coconut fiber and called "Forest mix" for vivarium animals. Check the ingredients to be sure.


Cage Furniture

Cage furniture includes all of the items you use to decorate the cage and/or make your snake feel more secure.


One item that is very important to have in any cage is a place to hide. All snakes, even garters, need a place to retreat. An ideal hide has one small opening not much wider than the snake, and is very dark inside. All cages should ideally have at least one hide like this. Additional hides, with multiple openings and of different shapes and sizes may be added as well to allow the snake to choose. Hides can be home made cheaply from cardboard, toilet paper tubes, plastic bowls, and more. Nicer hides can also be purchased at reptile expos and pet stores.


Additional items, such as fake or live plants, vines, sticks, wood pieces, rocks, or decorations from a pet store may also be used. Garter snakes love to have plants in their cage to climb on. The more things you can put into your cage for your garter snake to climb around on the happier he will be. Garter snakes seem to enjoy checking out new objects that have recently been placed in the cage.


Heat Source

There are two main ways to provide heat to your snake and many products to choose from. Whichever you choose, a heat source should be provided on the far end of one side of your cage so that the snake can get away from it if he wants to. Garter snakes will generally also thrive at an ambient room temperature between 70 and 80 degrees farenheit, but a temperature gradient is still ideal.


Top Heat- this generally would indicate the use of a light fixture with the use of a heat emitting lightbulb or a ceramic heat emitter. Garter snakes absolutely love a bright white light that gives off heat. As soon as it is turned on they will be drawn like magnets to sit under it. They almost seem to be unable to resist it. Take care to choose the right wattage bulb and have the light on the outside of the cage so that the snake cannot access the bulb itself and become burned. The nice thing with using a basking light is that if it's too hot, you can simply use a lower wattage bulb to achieve the right temps, and no thermostat is required.


Belly Heat- This would indicate that you are using an under-the-tank heater or heat tape placed underneath the cage. Ideally it would not take up any more than a third of the cage and absolutely needs a method of control, such as a thermostat. Heat mats themselves are not too expensive but their major flaw is that their surface temperature gets far too hot for any snake, meaning that without thermostat regulation they can burn your snake.


It's best to provide a temperature gradient within the enclosure, so the snake(s) can choose the temperature that suits them at any given time. The daytime range should be between about 72-88F (22-30C). Nighttime temperatures shouldn't regularly fall below about 65F (18C) for northern species or 75F (21C) for southern species. Though these are somewhat higher than ambient nighttime temperatures throughout much of their range, it keeps their metabolism slightly elevated and enhances growth, digestion, and immunity. Snakes will generally choose warmer temperatures during the day and while digesting and cooler temperatures at night and for sleeping. Different day:night temperature regimes can be created simply by plugging the heat source into an automatic timer that shuts off for approximately 6-8 hours during the night and re-activates in the morning. More sophisticated (and much more expensive) thermostats are also available that precisely lower the temperature to a preset point, but they're not generally necessary.


Since snakes are ectotherms, the heat you provide plays a critical role in regulating their metabolic rate. Feeding rates, digestion and passage rates, growth, immunity, and activity levels are all affected by the temperature gradient that you provide. Not surprisingly, the first line of defense for an ailing snake is to raise the temperature in its enclosure to approximately 90F (32C) day and night to give their immune system a boost. This technique, however, is not a suitable substitute for proper medical attention. It is merely the first step toward recovery and should not be continued beyond a week to 10 days.


Water Supply

Ideally, a large water bowl that is big enough for the snake to swim in should be used. Garter snakes will do fine with a smaller water bowl but they are, by nature, semi-aquatic and prefer a large water dish. Clean, fresh water should always be available to your snake.


Feeding

Anything you feed to your snake should be raw and unsalted. Do not offer your garter snake dog or cat food, ground meat, or cooked products. Dog food is made for dogs to eat, ground meat is extremely fatty and nutritionally lacking, and anything cooked has also lost it's nutritional value.


Garter Snakes do Not Eat Crickets

This is a point that needs to be made right off the bat, simply because the largest misconception about garter snakes is that they eat insects. Do not bother offering your garter snake crickets or other insects, regardless of what anyone may tell you. It has even been published in books that they will eat them, but garter snakes cannot even properly digest insects.


Food Types

Earthworms - Earthworms and nightcrawlers are widely accepted by many types of garter snakes. They are likely to be turned down by ribbon snakes and the more aquatic garter species such as Blacknecks and Santa Cruz. Nightcrawlers and earthworms can be purchased at bait shops, in the fishing gear section of variety stores such as Kroger's, Fred Meyer, or Walmart, as well as harvested at night from one's yard, provided it is a pesticide free area. Nightcrawlers can be cut into small pieces for smaller snakes and even chopped into bits for babies.


Beware not to feed "red wigglers". Red wigglers are identified by their reddish color with light banding as in these pictures. When bothered, red wigglers secrete a yellow/orange slime that smells very bitter and is extremely sticky. This substance makes these worms toxic and many snakes may sicken, regurgitate or even die after eating these worms. Red Wigglers are often sold as Panfish worms, trout worms or compost worms. They are not earthworms and are not an acceptable food for snakes.



Safe, thiaminase-free live fish - Feeder fish that are thiaminase free are rather hard to come by. (see more about thiaminase below) Fish that contain thiaminase are not an acceptable food item for snakes and should not be considered even as an occasional "treat". The main fish to be wary of is the goldfish. Aside from red wigglers, goldfish may be the worst thing you could possibly feed your snake. Rosy red minnows, also known as flathead minnows also contain thiaminase, although it is rumored to a lesser extent. If possible, they should also be avoided.


Feeder guppies and platies are thiaminase free if you find yourself needing to feed live fishes. You may also use wild caught dace minnows, bluegills, and the like. The major concern with feeding live fishes is that they may be carrying parasites that could be passed on to your snake especially if wild caught.


Frozen Thawed Fish - this is by far a better option when feeding fish to your snakes. Be sure to use a thiaminase free source. Steer clear of catfish and carp for this reason. Commonly used types include silversides, salmon, trout, and tilapia. Silversides are safe to use and can be purchased frozen from pet stores and sometimes even as people food at grocery stores in the seafood section. They are ideal because they are a whole-bodied food instead of just strips of flesh. If strips of large fish are used it's advisable to supplement with calcium because there is no bone matter.


Frozen thawed rodents - some garter will take these right off the bat but many have to have them scented with fish or earthworms at first. Rodents are best used as part of a varied diet, they are not the natural staple food item of garter snakes, but are still great when rotated with other food items. Especially with younger snakes, they will encourage quick growth. (Though, faster growth is not always better and may weaken the heart). For baby garters, pinky mice can be chopped into pieces.


Amphibians - Generally, Amphibians are not a good idea because they usually must be wild caught. Taking large numbers of wild animals as food for your snakes is ethically not a good choice as it could have a negative impact on the ecosystem. There are many better options out there. Wild amphibians may also be harboring dangerous parasites. Also, be aware that many amphibians are highly toxic and one wrong move could spell death for your snake. It has been rumored that a diet very high in toads will, over time, kill off garter snakes. Often, raw bullfrog legs can be purchased at grocery stores in the summer. Garter snakes love these and they will be a cleaner option since they are prepared as people food.


Supplementing and Feeding Techniques

Calcium Powder - If a food source lacks bones, the snake will need occasional calcium supplementation. Buy the type that contains Vitamin D, because Vitamin D is required in order for living organisms to absorb and metabolize the calcium. Yet don't overfeed the calcium supplement, because Vitamin D accumulates in the body and can reach toxic levels. Don't sprinkle more that a large pinch or two on any food item, and only offer calcium with Vitamin D at approximately two week intervals. One might also, for example, dip the last inch of a worm into the calcium powder. Once the snake begins eating the clean end of the worm, it will naturally eat the other end with the powder on it.


If a snake refuses food - There are many, many reasons a snake may not eat. If it has recently eaten, it may still be full. If it's fall or winter, the snake may sense this and instinctively go off feed to prepare for brumation. Increasing temps may or may not remedy this. If not, it's advisable to do a short hibernation period to reset the snake's internal clock. If a snake is new, give it time, up to a few weeks, to settle in. If a snake's home is inadequate, or if he is feeling stressed, he probably will not eat.


Feeding live food is generally discouraged because of the possibility that the food item will contain parasites. However, newborn snakes, and those that have recently emerged from brumation/hibernation sometimes need a little encouragement before they begin feeding. These are circumstances when one might put a few live fish into a shallow dish (or jar lid) with just enough water so the fish's back is exposed above the water line. The smell and movement of the fish often gives the stimulation necessary to make the snake begin eating. A little less water in the jar lid might cause the fish to flop around and really get the snake excited.


Scenting: Tricking a snake into trying new foods -

Garter snakes are all different, some will eat anything offered and others will only eat one single thing. That can become frustrating when you wish to offer your snake a well balanced and varied diet and he is unwilling to try something new. You can use a technique called Scenting to get your snake to eat new things. Take a food item you know the snake likes to eat, let's say in this case, he likes to eat worms but you want to get him eating pinkies as well. Cut up some worms in a dish and smother the pinky in the juices from the worms. The snake may at first, be wary of the texture, but will generally eat it after a few tries. You can gradually decrease the amount of scenting you use until the snake has learned to accept the new food without any scent added.


Thiaminase Problems

Some fish contain an enzyme that's called thiaminase. This enzyme blocks the absorption of vitamin B1 ( also called thiamine). So be careful not to feed your garter snake fish that contains thiaminase or he will develop a lack of vitamin B1, which can/will lead eventually to death if not treated. A good list with fish containing thiaminase can be found page1 and page2. A very good and large article about this can be found at THIAMIN, THIAMINASE, & GOLDFISH


There are 2 solutions to tackle this problem: - Don't feed anything that contains thiaminase. - Heat everything to above 80C for at least 5 minutes will destroy the thiaminase. But cooking also destroys valuable nutrients. This method is not advised unless it's the only thing available at the moment.


Supplementing a fish that contains thiaminase with thiamine is not an acceptable remedy to the situation, seeing as it is unknown what levels of Thiamine are safe/unsafe, as well as how much is needed to overcome the potent effects of thiaminase. There are better options out there.


Safe and unsafe fish

Unsafe fish (Species reported to contain thiaminase)

Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) Anchovies (Anchoa hepsetus) Anchovies (Engraulis mordax) Bass (white) (Lepibema chrysops) Black quahog (Artica islandica) Bowfin (dogfish) (Amia calva) Bream (Abramis brama) Buckeye shiner (Notropus atherionoides) Buffalofish (Ictiobus cyprinellus) Bull Head (Ameirurus m. melas) Burbot (Lota lota maculosa) Burbot (Lota lota) Butterfish (Poronotus triacanthus) Carp (Cyprinus carpio) Catfish (channel) (Ictalurus laccustris punctatus) Clams (chowder, steamer, cherrystone) Fathead minnow (Primephales p. promelas) Garfish (garpike) Goldfish (Carassius auratus) Herring (Baltic) (Clupea harengus var. membranus) Herring (Clupea harengus) Lamprey (adult) (Petromyzon marintus) Mackerel (Scomber japonicas) (Pacific) Menhaden (Brecoortia tyrannus) Menhaden (large scale) (Brecoortia patronus) Moray ell (Gymnothorax ocellatus) Mussel (bigtoe) (Pluerobema cordatum) Razor belly (scaled sardine) (Harengula pensacolae) Sauger (Stizostedion c. canadense) Scallop (Placopecten grandis) Sculpin (Myooxocephalus quadricornis thompsonii) Shad (gizzard) (Dorosoma cepedianum) Shiner (spottail) (Notropis hudsonius) Smelt (freshwater) (Osmerus mordax) Stoneroller (central) (Campostoma anomalum pullum) Sucker (common white) (Catostomus c. commersonii) White bass (Lepimbema chrysops) Whitefish (Prosopium cylindraceum quadriaterale) White fish (Coregonus clupeaformis)


Safe fish (Species reported not to contain thiaminase)


Ayu (Plecoglossus altivelis) Bass (largemouth) (Huro salmoides) Bass (rock) (Ambloplites r. rupestris) Bass (smallmouth) (Micropterus d. dolomieu) Black backs (pseudopleuronectes americanus) Bluegill (Lepomis m. macrochirus) Chub (bloater) (Coregonus hoyi) Cod (Gadus morrhua) Crappie (Pomoxis nigro-maculatus) Croaker (Micropogon undulatus) Cunner (Tautogolabrus adspersus) Cusk (Brosme brosme) Cutlassfish (silver eel) (Trichiurus lepturus) Dogfish (squalus acanthias) Eel (anguilla rostrata) Gar (northern longnose) (Lepisosteus osseus oxyurus) Haddack (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) Halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) Hake (Urophycis spp.) Herring (Leucichthys artedi areturus) King whiting (ground whiting) (Menticirrhus americanus) Lemon sole (Psuedopleuronectes americanus dignabilis) Lizard Fish (Synodus foetens) Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) Mullet (Mugil spp.) Perch (yellow) (Perca flavescens) Pike (northern) (Esox lucius) Pike (wall-eyed) (stizostedion vitreum) Plaice (Canadian) (Hippoglossoides platessoides) Pollock (Pollachitus virens) Porgy (scup) (Stenotomus aculeatus) Porgy (scup) (Stenotomus chrysops) Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) Redfish (Sebastes marinus) Salmon (Salmo salar) Salmon (Coho) (Oncorhynchus kisutch) Seabass (centropristis striatas) Sea catfish (galeichthys felis) Sea robin (Prionotus spp.) Smelt or "silversides" (Hypomesus olidus)(arctic pond. Also known as silversides, usually frozen available in pet stores) Spot (Leiostomus xanthurus) Squid (Loligo brevis) Tautog (blackfish) (Tautoga onitis) Trout (brown) (Salmo trutta fario) Trout (lake) (Christiconer n. namaycush) Trout (rainbow) (Salmo gairdnerii irideus) White trout (Cynoscion nothus) White trout (Cynoscion avenarius) Whiting (Merluccius bilinearis) Yellow tails (Limanda ferruginea)[/

One must keep in mind that just because a fish is on the thiaminase-free list, doesn't mean it's safe to feed to your snakes. Some species (sometimes depending on where it was caught) contain unacceptable levels of contaminants such as methyl mercury or other heavy metals, or PCB's. For this reason I do not recommend freshwater bass of any kind, or wild salmon from anywhere but Alaska. Bluegill (sunfish) and crappie is also sometimes very high in contaminants. Many people have had snakes get sick, or even die after eating seafood section grocery store fish. I myself fed coho salmon for quite some time, and had snakes develop neurological problems. I recommend F/T silversides, AKA "Arctic Pond Smelt" if your snakes will eat them. For more information on contaminated fish: http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=17694


Brumation

Sometimes brumation (hibernation) is necessary to make snakes breed, also needed around winter some snakes will automatically go off feed because their internal clock says its time to brumate


Steps of Brumation

1.) Stop feeding for 2-3 weeks if this is not done the food still inside them will ferment. While doing this increase the number of hours of darkness and decrease the number of light hours, for example instead of giving them 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness give them 10 hours of light and 14 hours of darkness work this down until they are in darkness completely, after this i take them put them in a brown trash bag or container of sorts and put it in a pitch black place, i then clean out their brumation enclosure. I let mine sit in their clean brumation enclosures with pitch darkness for 2 days just to get them settled. And don't worry to much about slowly changing the light/darkness if you just drop it to dark it wont kill them it just wont be as natural.
2.) Put them in their clean brumation enclosure and drop the temperature down to around 60-65f for a week.
3.) Drop them down to their final brumation temperature i keep mine at 40-45f it is okay to keep them anywhere from 40-55f just make sure the temperature does not vary a lot i prefer keeping mine at a lower temperature because they do not lose as much weight, a natural brumation time would be 3 months this is what i recommend if you are trying to breed your snakes though many breeders have had success with only 2 months, also if you are just brumating to make your snake eat again i would suggest 2 months. You should brumate according to when they are going to wake up (if you can) they should wake up sometime around jan/feb/march. And remember to change their water and check on them every week but do not hold them.
4.) At the end of brumation to bring them back you do steps 1,2,3 again backwards, also when breeding it is suggested that you bring back up the male first because if you dont he might just be interested in the female and not want to eat. The male will usually follow the female everywhere and try to mate with her and if he doesnt he most likely will after the female sheds (which they always do after brumation)


Some Notes:

- Make sure they are not skinny and in good health. (there are exceptions such as ones that wont eat)
- I would not recommend brumating anything smaller than 16 inches for the purpose of breeding because they are more likely to die.
- Brumating is a natural part of a snakes life and some people feel that you should do it even if you are not breeding or it does not go off food.



Breeding

Right after Brumation introduce the male and female Garter Snakes this could take several hours or several weeks for a successful Breeding. In a few months you will be able to see if your female is gravid (pregnant) by either feeling the babies(BE EXTREMELY GENTLE)or by just looking and seeing the big lumps. She will also gain weight and begin to look fat in her lower 1/3. In about 70-100 days(if the breeding was successful) live babies will be born.


Caring for the offspring.


Care for babies is not exactly the same care as adults. It's recommended that they have a moist area and/or moist hides especially during the first few weeks. An area with piles of damp moss, or damp shredded newspaper works. Babies dehydrate fast. They also overheat or cool down fast due to their surface to volume ratio. Daily misting is a good idea but make sure the enclosure is well ventilated and it should dry out within a few hours. Do not keep the enclosure/substrate constantly wet but do not allow it to become dry like a desert with low humidity. A large but very shallow water dish (perhaps half a centimeter deep) with some rocks or pebbles in it is preferable over a deep water dish, as babies can sometimes drown. Babies need to be fed as often as they will eat. This means daily, or almost daily. Babies need diligent care if they are to make it past their vulnerable stage. This means no taking a week's vacation for you when there's babies at home.


Sometimes babies will not eat at all right away. It sometimes takes up to 10 days before they will eat. Feed them small, soft bits of appropriate food items. Avoid hard bones. This means you will probably have to cut up bits of fish meat, pinky mice or worms daily (about the size of their head) for them. Do not allow babies to become overstuffed. Their systems are still delicate and developing. A slight bulge is plenty, but feed them daily. Sometimes baby snakes will fight over food. You must not allow this to happen even if you have to feed them individually in separate containers. Food fights can result in injuries of the mouth and delicate teeth, and ultimately be fatal.


For increased immunity, growth and digestion, it's recommended to keep babies warm with ceramic heat emitters or gentle bottom heat even at night when the lights are out. Temperature for babies should not go lower than 70 degrees at night.


Even with the best of care, sometimes babies just don't make it to 6 months old. It's not uncommon for a few to die before then, even with the best care. Good luck.


Submitted & authored by the Thamnophis.com Community. Thank you to all the members involved in the creation of this care sheet.