snake food size?

hassman789

Arachnobaron
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Dec 2, 2009
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Hey I have a garter snake that I have been feeding rosy reds (the fish your not supposed to feed) until a couple months ago when I remembered not too. He was getting one a day and always appeared healthy, not skinny. I switched him to small "comets" every day/otherday but they still worry me either way and I read they are not complete nutrition. I want to feed him pinky mice that i can just give him one a week for full nutriton. My problem was not getting him to eat it but the size of it. I could tell he was going to be able to get it down but it just seemed a little un healthy. I also read you should feed them once a week enough to make a small buldge (which is what my fish make) but I feed him every day and he's not getting fat. So my question is if the snake can fit it down is it ok for them? Can they put down a dangerously large prey item (prekilled by the way) without knowing it? Or do they know the limit?

PS he didn't eat the pinky I gave him. I accidentaly scared him off of itwhile picking parts of the aspen bedding off of the mouse.:rolleyes:.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/48944632@N02/5137725638/ That is him and the size of the fish he eats. Does he look under weight? And is that how big his mice should be?
 

VickyChaiTea

Arachnosquire
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Sep 3, 2010
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Ok, first of all never give them godlfish. Ever. Goldfish can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency in reptiles. In captivity, garter snakes should eat nothing but mice. It's the healthiest thing for them, absolutely.

Feeding nothing but fish is going to cause malnutrition and a short lifespan. Start the snake on mice asap. It's good that you're feeding prekilled, it's safer that way.

Also, you say you had to pick off aspen pieces from the mouse? I always reccomend feeding them in a separate container for just that reason. It also helps to deter cage aggression.

Anyway, you should feed the snake a food item that is at LEAST the width of the snake at it's widest part, not the head. Feeding when the bump goes away is a very inaccurate method, often resulting in fat snakes. The best method is to go by the wieight of the snake. How much does it weigh? It's always good to invest in a digital scale that can measure grams for these occasions. But judging by the size of the snake, I'd go with a large mouse fuzzy or small hopper once every 7 days.
 

pitbulllady

Arachnoking
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Piscevorous snakes(fish-eating)CAN live and be very healthy on a fish-only diet, provided it's the right kind of fish. I've got several Water Snakes that I've had for years, that only eat fish from the supermarket, the kind sold as human food, and yes, I've got a Garter I've had for a few years on that diet as well. However, goldfish and "rosy reds"(aka "fat-head minnows)are both very high in dangerous Thiaminase, which does, as has already been stated, cause a lethal Vitamin B deficiency over time, and the smaller the snake, the more deadly it is. There is nothing wrong with switching over to mice, though, especially if it's difficult to obtain the proper types of feeder fish. I don't have that problem, since I live near the Southeastern US coast, and we have a thriving fishing industry as well as aquacultural industry here, so fresh fish are easy to get at any supermarket, but I guess if you live in certain parts of the country this could be an issue. Freezing breaks down and destroys vital nutrients, so frozen fish is not a good idea unless it's been properly fortified with those vitamins, and supplementing can be tricky. It is fortunately very easy to switch Garters and most Water Snakes over to mice by simply scenting them with fish; even canned tuna will work! Just don't feed the snake while it's on the aspen bedding, since this can and will cause impaction problems. Get him used to eating in a separate container. My Water Snakes will eat while I'm holding them, but then they are total gluttons, anyway! Fish are digested much quicker, but yield far less nutrients compared to water, than rodents, which is why you have to feed fish much more often. Once or twice per week should do it with pinkies, though, to avoid having a fat snake.

pitbulllady
 

hassman789

Arachnobaron
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OK no more fish for him. But I still need to know. Can he hurt himself by eating too large a meal? :confused:
 

Offkillter

Arachnosquire
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Jun 18, 2010
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I'd always heard up to one and a half times the widest part of the snakes body.That's how we feed our corn snakes and it's worked out fine.Sometimes they get fed mice bigger than that and still have no problems.
 

hassman789

Arachnobaron
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Dec 2, 2009
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I'll feed him one tomorrow and take a picture for size comparison to ask you guys if that can be a regualr meal (once a week)
 

VickyChaiTea

Arachnosquire
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Sep 3, 2010
Messages
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They most certainly can eat something that is too big for them, usually resulting in a regurgitation which you really don't want. Just make sure that the food is no larger than one and half times the width of the snake at it's largest.

And pitbullpady I always reccomend feeding garters mice because of that. Getting apprpriate fish to feed them can be quite a hassle, it's much easier to feed mice. Though garters really eat frogs more than anything in the wild.
 

pouchedrat

Arachnolord
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I feed my garters silversides, guppies, and salmon pieces with supplements. They'll also eat slugs and worms.

I've always heard that while they can eat mice, it might negatively affect some species, like weakening their heart, shortening their lifespan, etc. Dunno how true it is or not, but I keep garters mainly because they're not rodent eaters, and I keep rats as pets. None of the snake species I keep are rodent eaters, it's easier for me.

Like stated, it's usually best to feed them pieces the size of their widest girth on their body. My guys are pigs (typical for garters anyway) and will wolf down a ton of pieces of fish. I usually cut up a larger fish into smaller bits, and I'm sure the same can be done with a pinky for the snake. I hear of people feeding tiny snake babies pinky tails or heads all the time
 

pitbulllady

Arachnoking
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I feed my garters silversides, guppies, and salmon pieces with supplements. They'll also eat slugs and worms.

I've always heard that while they can eat mice, it might negatively affect some species, like weakening their heart, shortening their lifespan, etc. Dunno how true it is or not, but I keep garters mainly because they're not rodent eaters, and I keep rats as pets. None of the snake species I keep are rodent eaters, it's easier for me.

Like stated, it's usually best to feed them pieces the size of their widest girth on their body. My guys are pigs (typical for garters anyway) and will wolf down a ton of pieces of fish. I usually cut up a larger fish into smaller bits, and I'm sure the same can be done with a pinky for the snake. I hear of people feeding tiny snake babies pinky tails or heads all the time
I sell a lot of Water Snake babies to people who keep rodent pets, who don't want to have a snake that eats rodents. Like I said, here in the Southeast, it is actually EASIER to feed fish than rodents. I have to drive nearly two hours, one-way, every two weeks to purchase frozen rodents from a breeder. He's the nearest large-scale rat and mouse breeder in the state from me. I'm highly allergic to all rodent dander(which sucks, believe me, otherwise I'd have pet rats, too), so I have to wear a surgeon's mask while feeding even f/t, and wash my hands like I've been exposed to Anthrax or something afterwards. Feeding live is OUT, because of that, as would be breeding my own feeder rodents. On the other hand, I can pick up food for the Water Snakes when I do my own grocery shopping, since fresh fish of appropriate species is always available around here, year-round. We also have many fish markets that specialize in fresh fish. One local marketeer actually breeds his own tilapia! I aksed him once, how fresh they were, not wanting frozen fish for the snakes, and he went into the back, where I heard some splashing, and came out with a big net with a large tilapia flopping around in it, and asked, "is THIS fresh enough?" He keeps a big cement tank in the back of the store and keeps fish in it for customers who insist on really fresh fish, and will clean and cut it up to specifications. That is just so much easier for me than a four-hour, twice-per-month drive to get rodents, so I don't really make too much of an effort to switch my Garters and Waters over to rodents, even though most have taken rodents from time to time.

pitbulllady
 

hassman789

Arachnobaron
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I am so confused on what to do. I cant get him to eat when he's not in his enclosure. He will strike at prey when dangled in front of him when he's at home. But when I dangle it in front of him in a box or container he is all scared. I also just put the pinky in and left him in a dark container with it for about an hour and still nothing. Any ideas on how to get him to eat when he isn't in his enclosure?
 

VickyChaiTea

Arachnosquire
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Well, first put the snake into the feeding container. Put a lid on, leave it alone for 30mins. (I find this helps the snakes calm down and get into a sort of routine) Then come back with food, dangle it but don't hit the snake with it if he's fearful. If he doesn't strike, just drop it in there and check back in an hour. If he still doesn't take it there are alot of things you can try. First I would try scenting it with tuna fish oil.
 

pouchedrat

Arachnolord
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I live near Baltimore, MD, so yeah, fish is no problem whatsoever here what with the bay area

try scenting the pinky first with fish, unless it already is taking to pinkies without scenting, that could be the key. Once my guys smell that fish, they're in feeding frenzy mode, lol
 

demonmyst

Arachnopeon
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Nov 6, 2010
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Garter snakes eat fish in wild. I have two and they have been eating fish(guppies) since they were born! I know that they aren't going to die because they haven't yet and are very healthy! It's actually hard to get them to eat pinkies for the reason of they mainly eat fish!{D
 

hassman789

Arachnobaron
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I scented it with bait fish. the worst smelling fish I know so probably the best smelling for him and he still wouldnt take it. I'm thinking he needs a smaller pinky so it is more reasonable for him.
 

Toirtis

Arachnobaron
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May 14, 2010
Messages
316
I am so confused on what to do. I cant get him to eat when he's not in his enclosure.
So feed him in his enclosure....just clear away an area of aspen for the feeding so he does not inadvertently ingest any.

As far as diet goes, stick with guppies, earthworms, slugs, and the occasional mouse (and frog, depending on availability and the garter species/locale....emulating natural diet as best possible is the best for the snake.
 

the toe cutter

Arachnobaron
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Mar 20, 2010
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PBL is exaclty right here about the feeding. I have owned Pugetts Sound, Fla Blues and checkered Garters for some time now and feed them human food fish with the appropriate vitamin supplements and rodents. I like to switch it up and they don't always readily accept rodents, but will never refuse a nice cut piece of fish!
 

VickyChaiTea

Arachnosquire
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Sep 3, 2010
Messages
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Garter snakes eat fish in wild. I have two and they have been eating fish(guppies) since they were born! I know that they aren't going to die because they haven't yet and are very healthy! It's actually hard to get them to eat pinkies for the reason of they mainly eat fish!{D
This isn't true. They eat frogs, toads, mice, slugs, salamanders, AND fish. They'll eat whatever they can get their hands on really. How much do your snakes weigh? I can only imagine a garter fed nothing but guppies would be undersized.
 

hassman789

Arachnobaron
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Dec 2, 2009
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I found smaller pinkies and will give these a chance. but these pinkies seem TOO small. They are about as wide as his head and probably about an inch. should I just give him 2 of these in one sitting once a week? that is if he takes it.
 

the toe cutter

Arachnobaron
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Mar 20, 2010
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They do have a pretty quick metabolism, so feeding 2 small pinks 2x a week would work sufficiently.
 
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