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  1. #1
    Hi, I'm New Here! garter newbie's Avatar
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    Hi! I'm new to garters.

    Hi! My name is Chrissy! I am married with (2) nature loving boys living in southeastern PA. Last week we came across a garter snake in our yard. My dog was sniffing at something under the grass. At first I thought it was a big slug but once it started moving I realized it was a garter. Of couse, my 7 y/o son begged me to let him keep it. Hence, here I am. I don't know very much about garters except what I've read online at this and other sites and the basic info sheet from the pet store. I have lots of questions but am sure I can get the help I need here . I am new to forums as well so bear with me as I learn the ins and outs of it.

    Chrissy

  2. #2
    Mr Thamnophis ssssnakeluvr's Avatar
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    Re: Hi! I'm new to garters.

    Welcome to the forum!!! Ask away and we will do our best to answer any questions you have!!!

  3. #3
    Dutch, bold and Thamnophis-crazy Thamnophis's Avatar
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    Re: Hi! I'm new to garters.

    Hello Chrissy from Philadelphia.

    Welcome on this forum. Answers to your questions will be no problem, I think.

    Greetings from the Netherlands.

    Fons
    It is always advisable to be a loser if you cannot become a winner. Frank Zappa

  4. #4
    Former Moderator Cazador's Avatar
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    Re: Hi! I'm new to garters.

    Welcome aboard, Chrissy. If you haven't seen Alan Francis' website yet, it's a great place to start gathering information, but for starters, the temperature that the snake experiences (at the bottom of the cage, unless you have a basking spot near the top) is the most important. Also, abcat1993 makes a good point that your snake will need a while to acclimate to warmer temperatures before it will eat. Make sure there are plenty of small hiding spots (like under the leaves) to give the snake a sense of comfort while it acclimates. They like to feel the the edges touching them. Have fun,
    Rick

    Alan's Garter Snakes - Maintenance of Garter Snakes

  5. #5
    Hi, I'm New Here! garter newbie's Avatar
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    Re: Hi! I'm new to garters.

    Ok - I moved the temp gauge to the bottom of the heated side and it is reading 77 F. So is that warm enough or am I going to need another heat source to bring up the temp more? As for the eating thing - how often should I offer food and how long should I leave it in the cage before disposing of it if it's not eaten?

  6. #6
    Former Moderator Cazador's Avatar
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    Re: Hi! I'm new to garters.

    Hi Chrissy,
    For brevity, I'm going to stick with the "heating" theme for now. Periodically check the temp throughout the day. If your home's thermostat is programmed to cool at night and warm during the day, even the basking spot's temp will change since you're using an overhead light. You don't want to exceed about 88F in your basking spot for very long during the warmest part of the day. Hopefully, your light is set up at one end of the terrarium to provide a warmer end and a cooler end. 88F is too warm to keep the entire terrarium, but it's great for basking.

    If your warmest spot is only 77F, you're risking bacterial, fungal, and parasitic outbreaks since your snake's immune system increases and decreases activity according to the temp. One of the first things to do if your snake starts showing signs of illness is to raise the temperature to boost its immune system.

    You can change the amount of heat that your light puts out by switching to a more powerful light bulb (i.e. from a 40 Watt bulb to a 60 Watt bulb). You can also change the amount of heat that your snake experiences by putting a flat rock directly under the heat light. That way, the snake is getting heat from above and below. If the heat from below is too high, it can "cook" the feces and produce "fecoliths" and constipation. There are a lot of other ways to change the temp along a gradient if a larger bulb produces too much heat, so be sure to check back in if you need help.
    Rick

  7. #7
    Hi, I'm New Here! garter newbie's Avatar
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    Re: Hi! I'm new to garters.

    Well, I guess that answers my question about whether or not I need an additional heating source. Since I'm currently only using an undertank heater mat, I'll have to get an overhead ceramic heater or the like with the lowest wattage bulb at first and see how it goes. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again for all your help.

    Chrissy

  8. #8
    Former Moderator Cazador's Avatar
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    Re: Hi! I'm new to garters.

    Hi Chrissy,
    For the record, there's nothing wrong with under tank heat mats. Many people use them, but most people have them hooked up to a rheostat that you can buy at Wal Mart, and just about any hardware store. Heating mats are sold to accomodate different sized tanks, though, so if you're going to buy a new one, make sure you get one of the appropriate size. Remember that with a rheostat, you can turn down the temp, but you can't increase it above the maximum. Whatever you do, don't buy an in-tank heating rock. They're notorious for burning snakes.

    I don't know if this applies, but as I recall, you use shredded aspen as your substrate, right? If so, it may simply be too deep over the heat mat. If you can remove some of your substrate, it will raise the temperature. Try that before buying another heat mat or an overhead bulb. You might even consider replacing the aspen in that section with paper towels and leaving the aspen at the other end of the tank. This should raise the temp even more. If the enclosure is on a naturally cold surface, like tile or concrete, you'll either want to move the enclosure or put some insulative material between the heat mat and the tank. These are probably worth a shot before you spend much more money. Best of luck,
    Rick

  9. #9
    Hi, I'm New Here!
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    Re: Hi! I'm new to garters.

    hi chrissy, having fun with my new garter also found it this nov on the lawn mines only about 6 inches big how about yours? and what have you tried to feed it? mine has eaten earth worms from the yard but now its pretty cold and I dont know where i'll get them any suggestions anyonewould be appreciated.
    Marybeth

  10. #10
    Former Moderator Cazador's Avatar
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    Re: Hi! I'm new to garters.

    Ask the folks at the Sporting Goods counter of your local Wal Mart, K-Mart, sports store, etc if they carry worms. Many people use them for fishing. If you don't have luck, you can go to a pet store and ask for feeder guppies or rosie reds. Then you can work your way up to mice, so you don't have to feed (or clean) as often. Other sources?

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