Garter snake substrate?

ErikWestblom

Arachnobaron
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Hey guys! New to snakes, and I'm wondering what to use as substrate.. wood chips or newspapers? Got em on newspapers now... The guy I bought them from suggested wood chips, but from what I've read on this forum, they retain too much moisture that helps bacteria grow.

Got a nicely sized water bowl, a smaller dish for food and some stuff to climb on. Anything else I should add?

Sorry for the newbie questions :/
 
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pouchedrat

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I currently use paper towels, but they're just itty bitty babies right now. For adults some people use carefresh bedding, others aspen bedding (no pine or cedar), and others use cocohusk fiber. They do like to burrow, and can be messy things
 

pitbulllady

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With Garter and Water Snakes, you need something that will stay dry and that can be changed often. A dry, clean substrate is an absolute MUST with this type of snake, since they are far less "forgiving" than many other Colubrids when it comes to a dirty enclosure and are very prone to "scale rot", a serious, life-threatening skin infection. I use newspaper, which might not be the most attractive substrate, but it is readily available and easy to change.

pitbulllady
 

Shrike

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Aspen has always worked well for me. In addition to staying nice and dry, it provides some measure of cover. However, newspaper is probably easier to keep clean.
 

ZephAmp

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Stick with these:
Paper towel, newspaper, aspen, carefresh, cypress mulch.
Only use aspen or cypress mulch if you're going to be hand-feeding; otherwise they might ingest some of it while they eagerly eat by themselves.
Paper towel is best for babies; it's easy to change, cheap, and cannot be swallowed.
Adults will do well on any of the above substrates; just make sure you keep it as clean as possible. In the wild garters may poop where they sleep or rest for extended periods of time but there are many clean-up crew creatures that eat it before it becomes problematic (mainly isopods.)
Cypress mulch mimics wild garter "substrate" the most out of all these, however it's harder to spot poop so it may need a clean up crew living in it. (I use a setup of cypress mulch and isopods with my dekayi's snake, a garter relative often found resting with garters, and I have no problems with impaction or keeping it clean.)
I don't recommend coconut fiber because it's easily ingested and harder to see/clean poop than with the other mentioned substrates.
 

xchondrox

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i use carefresh for my adult albino checkerds, they like it and i love it. Garters poop almost constantly, if you use newspaper youll be changing it all the time. The carefresh soaks up liquids and absorbs most of the odor, plus little guys love hiding underneath it! on the down side it is pricey $20 a bag, if you only have one tank it will last you along time though, you only need 1" or so in there.
 

xchondrox

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Cypress can give you mites, and if you try to bake it to rid it of potential mites/eggs your whole house will smell like burning wet wood.........
 

LeilaNami

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Since garters are typically nonrodent feeders, may I ask what you are feeding him?
 

ErikWestblom

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Since garters are typically nonrodent feeders, may I ask what you are feeding him?
Chopped up fish and pig's heart is what the breeder told me to feed them, with an addition of calcium and vitamins.

Thanks all of you for your responses!
 

the toe cutter

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I have quite a few Garters and I feed them all F/T rodents. An eastern female and a Puget's Sound Garter female and they have eaten rodents since I've had them. You can always try scenting rodents with fish.
 

pitbulllady

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Stick with these:
Paper towel, newspaper, aspen, carefresh, cypress mulch.
Only use aspen or cypress mulch if you're going to be hand-feeding; otherwise they might ingest some of it while they eagerly eat by themselves.
Paper towel is best for babies; it's easy to change, cheap, and cannot be swallowed.
Adults will do well on any of the above substrates; just make sure you keep it as clean as possible. In the wild garters may poop where they sleep or rest for extended periods of time but there are many clean-up crew creatures that eat it before it becomes problematic (mainly isopods.)
Cypress mulch mimics wild garter "substrate" the most out of all these, however it's harder to spot poop so it may need a clean up crew living in it. (I use a setup of cypress mulch and isopods with my dekayi's snake, a garter relative often found resting with garters, and I have no problems with impaction or keeping it clean.)
I don't recommend coconut fiber because it's easily ingested and harder to see/clean poop than with the other mentioned substrates.
DeKay's Snakes aren't related to Garters at all, actually. Garters are Natricine snakes, which means that they are closely related to the Nerodia Water Snakes, and have been known to interbreed with them. Cypress mulch holds moisture too well, and a humid enclosed environment can be absolutely lethal for Garter and Water Snakes, for reasons I explained in my first post in this thread. I found out the hard way many years ago that putting my Water and Garter Snakes on mulch was a death sentence. Since these snakes eat fish, primarily, any loose-particle substrate is a risk for impactions, since pretty much anything will stick to fish and can easily be ingested along with it.

pitbulllady
 

ZephAmp

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Garters are Natricine snakes
pitbulllady
Dekayi's are Natricine snakes as well.
Since these snakes eat fish, primarily, any loose-particle substrate is a risk for impactions, since pretty much anything will stick to fish and can easily be ingested along with it.
pitbulllady
The diet of garters is incredibly locale-specific. The primary diet of eastern garters in my range, for example, is earthworms; Primarily the invasive giant forest worm. In micro-environments within the range that one of my projects surveyed they consumed frogs and toads when they were seasonally available. In yet another area the primary diet was found to be fathead minnows; AKA rosy reds. It all depends on the species and locale. Generally within the T. sirtalis species complex, worms are the best bet.
As far as ingestion, seeing as they consume mostly worms it has been observed they also consume large amounts of particles from the surrounding environment. Although their labial scales do prevent some of this from being ingested it does not prevent a lot. These extra particles may in fact provide trace minerals to the garters. Therefore, impaction due to small particle ingestion in is not a problem.
 
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xchondrox

Arachnobaron
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All 2.2 of my albino checkerds feed readily on f/t fuzzy-adult mice, isnt to hard to switch them over to f/t pinks once the babies have some size to them.

Nearest Mejier is 45 minutes away from me....:(
 
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