Wondering what do Garter snakes eat in the Wild and if kept as Pets?
Will they eat Just about anything they can catch or do they have their own Preferences?
In this guide you will learn:
- Everything a Garter snake can eat,
- How do Garter snakes hunt for food in the wild,
- How to Feed Your Pet Garter snake or Garter snake babies.
What Do Garter Snakes Eat
In the wild a common meal for a garter snake includes small fish, earthworms, and small amphibians. Garter snakes have also been known to enjoy small mammals like mice, small birds and other small animals.
A Garter Snake’s diet in the wild very much depends on what is available to them. Garter snakes are able to eat a diverse diet without much concern about parasites because wild Garter Snakes will often have their own parasites.
The more common something will be in the area the Garter Snake is found will likely be the source of food for the Garter Snake.
If you keep Garter snakes as pets you can feed them small fish such as fish, pieces of mice that are thawed, crickets, earthworms, slugs, or small amphibians.
In captivity Garter snakes tend to have a much more diverse diet because their owner feeds them a widely diverse array of animals.
Be aware that some fish or amphibians may have parasites that could be harmful to your Garter Snake.
Do Garter Snakes eat Mice?
Absolutely! Garter snakes have been known to eat Mice on many occasions. Although mice are too big for baby Garter Snakes to consume, they make a great meal for an adult Garter Snake.
After eating a mouse, Garter Snakes may not have to eat again for 7 to 10 days.
If raising a Garter Snake as a pet, mice make the perfect meal. They are pretty easy to get your hands on and they are sold at numerous pet supply stores. Make sure that you thaw the mouse out either overnight in the fridge or for a few hours out of the freezer before feeding to your garter snake.
You may also have to cut the mouse up a bit for your Garter Snake. Also, remember that if the mouse smells funky after thawing, it is not good to feed to your Garter Snake.
In the wild, Garter snakes are less likely to eat mice as fish and other smaller prey make up the bulk of their meals. This also requires that they unhinge their jaw to fit the larger prey into their mouth.
However, it is not uncommon, if that is what is available to them at the time.
Do Garter Snakes Eat Rats?
Rats are one of the meals that Garter Snakes do not typically eat. Rats tend to be larger in size and they sometimes fight back.
For most garter snakes, it is not worth the trouble to try to eat a rat. However, if the rat is a smaller size, perhaps a baby or juvenile, the garter snake may go ahead and eat the rat.
These are not typical meals to be feeding your pet Garter snakes, unless you chop the rat up into smaller pieces that are easier for your garter snake to digest.
Having Garter Snakes in your garden CAN be a deterrent for rats though. The rat will not know if there are other predators around and will be less likely to stop by your garden looking for food.
It doesn’t matter if the Garter Snake is unlikely to eat the rat, the rat will just keep on moving past your yard or garden.
Do Garter Snakes Eat Chipmunks?
Chipmunks are not a common staple in the Garter snakes diet, but they can eat chipmunks if they are available.
Garter snakes can also be a good deterrent for chipmunks that may be getting into your garden and stealing your fruits and veggies.
Their patrolling around your garden can keep Chipmunks from coming anywhere near your yard.
Chipmunks tend to be on the larger side of small mammals, but again if they are smaller like babies or juveniles, garter snakes will go after them for a tasty meal.
Chipmunks would be a good meal to hold off a garter snake for several days after.
Do Garter Snakes Eat Crickets?
The short answer? No. Pet stores may tell you that Garter Snakes will go after Crickets, but they don’t actually like crickets that much.
They may occasionally eat feeder crickets, but they should be few and far between when feeding to your garter snake.
Most garter snakes are extremely picky when it comes to insects at all. It may be best to completely cut out the insects from your Garter Snakes diet.
In the wild, Garter Snakes typically avoid eating insects as they have other options available to them that taste better.
Do Garter Snakes Eat Spiders?
Your pet Garter Snake will most likely not like or even eat spiders.
It is not even worth catching spiders to have your Garter Snake try to eat. As stated above, there are far many more better tasting options to feed your Garter Snake.
However, in the wild Garter Snakes are left to eat whatever they have available to them. This means that spiders are not entirely out of the question.
They are definitely not the first choice of Garter Snakes but if they have no other options, they will make a snack out of spiders.
Do Garter Snakes Eat Slugs?
Slugs are a favorite treat for Garter Snakes. In the wild, slugs can be a pest to many gardeners, so Garter Snakes take care of the slugs for them.
For any gardener who has a slug problem, a Garter Snake is a welcome sight in the garden.
Not only are slugs a great snack for Garter Snakes in the wild, they are also a good food option for your Garter Snake in captivity.
Slugs can be fed to your Garter Snake alive, and your Garter Snake may welcome a moving target. They will swallow the slug whole after rapidly advancing on the slug.
Do Garter Snakes Eat Chicken Eggs?
Most snake species find chicken eggs to be a delicacy. The Garter snake however, is not one of them.
The chicken eggs are actually too big for the Garter Snake to eat. Garter Snakes are not the biggest snake in the world and therefore their diet reflects on what they can eat.
This can be a positive for many farmers or keepers of chickens. Garter Snakes will not harm the chicken or their eggs. But they can also keep other pests at bay.
Even Your Garter Snake in captivity will not be able to consume a chicken’s egg.
Do Garter Snakes Eat Ants?
Garter Snakes in the wild and in captivity CAN eat ants. They don’t eat them very often, as it takes many ants to fill up a Garter Snake but they are not completely out of the question.
Especially in the wild, if there is an abundance of ants, potentially a pest problem, Garter Snakes will eat them.
If the ants are seen as a pest problem, that means that there are enough for the Garter Snake to eat in one sitting to find the meal worth the expended energy.
It is not recommended that you feed your pet Garter Snake ants. They can become a bigger problem if they are able to escape from your Snakes enclosure.
There are also many other options that are better for your Garter Snake than feeding them ants.
Do Garter Snakes Eat Worms?
Yes, Worms are one of the foods that will work for wild and captive as well as young and mature Garter Snakes.
Garter Snakes really enjoy eating earthworms. Just be careful where you find the worms.
Bait shops have great worms, and even nightcrawlers, but you don’t have to resort to paying for them all of the time.
You may be able to find earthworms just fine in your own garden or backyard.
Just be extremely careful if you are finding your own worms. Worms found along the road, sidewalks, and in golf courses when it rains may contain poisons that could be harmful to your Garter Snake. Convenience would not be worth the health of your Garter Snake.
When feeding to younger Garter snakes you may have to cut up the worm when feeding. Just make sure that the worm still has a little wiggle or the Garter Snake may not have any interest in the meal.
Do Garter Snakes Eat Other Snakes?
Garter Snakes in the wild CAN eat other Snakes, but only if they are able to overpower them.
Snakes are not a common addition to the Garter Snakes diet. If the snake is starving and there happens to be a smaller snake available, they can attack and eat them.
This being said, Garter Snakes in Captivity are not likely to eat other snakes. Mostly because Snake owners are not likely to take one snake and feed it to another.
Here’s how Garter Snakes Hunt For Food
Lots of snakes typically use the same method when hunting for food; they wrap around and constrict them, or even inject their prey with venom to kill them faster.
Garter Snakes are an exception to this rule. Garter snakes use their agility and speed to grab their prey in the blink of an eye and swallow it whole, most of the time while it is still alive.
Their speed inside and outside of the water allow them to strike quickly and methodically.
How To Feed Your Pet Garter Snake
Garter Snakes are incredibly Visual Hunters. This means that they tend to like it when their prey moves so they can strike.
When feeding your garter snake fish, you can just plop the fish into a water filled dish. This is in addition to their water dish. Be sure to remove the extra dish within several hours of the snake eating.
How Often Do You Feed Your Pet Garter Snake
An adult garter snake can be fed every 7-10 days depending upon what you fed them last. If fed mice or pinky parts of a mouse, they can usually go a bit longer. If they last ate fish or worms, it may be closer to 7 days.
If they don’t eat for a while, don’t panic. Shedding and hibernation can affect how often your adult Garter Snake will eat.
The longest time an adult Garter Snake can go without food is a couple months; this is usually during their hibernation phase in the winter.
If you have any female Garter snakes that are pregnant, you will need to feed them more often. Every 4-6 days is perfect for a pregnant female garter snake.
The increase in feeding is due to the babies needing nutrition as well as the mother. Garter snakes are one of the few snakes in the world that have live births instead of laying eggs.
Feeding baby Garter Snakes
Baby Garter snakes will need to be fed less, about half of an adult’s diet and more frequently once every 4-6 days at least, depending upon what they ate last. This is due to their smaller size and growing nature.
Baby Snakes ideally, should be fed just about every other day. Don’t worry if your baby Garter snakes are not eating right away. They are notorious for being picky eaters. If feeding them pink meat from mice, you can try other food sources like pieces of worms.
Make sure that they are cut up into bite sized pieces so your garter snake can digest the pieces properly. You may even try something like grubs or slugs as these are smaller and may seem like a treat for your baby Garter Snake.
Their schedule will ultimately depend on their own temperament. Each snake is unique and will want different things. As your baby Garter Snake grows, you will get to know them better and will be able to better anticipate their wants and needs.
How Long Can A Baby Garter Snake Go Without Eating?
Baby Garter Snakes should not go longer than 2 weeks without food. At this point their health will begin to deteriorate. They will also begin to lose substantial weight.
If they simply are not eating at all, consult with your vet, who may recommend force feeding. This should only be done as a last resort and after consultation with a professional.
How Do You Know When Your Garter Snake Is Hungry?
Your Garter Snake will let you know in it’s own way that it is hungry. You may observe your Garter Snake moving with procision around it’s enclosure, perhaps like it is on the hunt for food.
You may also see it’s tongue flick more frequently and more often.
These are the easy signs to tell you that they are hungry.