Like other snakes, garter snakes are highly opportunistic feeders. They will eat a wide variety of insects and invertebrates including amphibians. In captivity, they are fed with different animals but mice are the best foods for garter snakes.
If you’re feeding your garter snake with mice then there is no need to feed anything because mice represent a complete nutrition. Other foods ought to be offered in combination just to make sure snake gets what it needs.
What Do Garter Snakes Eat
In the Wild
- Garter snakes are carnivorous. In the wild they will eat leeches, crickets, fish, snails, slugs, earthworms, mice, lizards, amphibians, minnows, rodents, frog eggs, and toads. Frogs include Pacific tree frogs, Red-legged frogs, and Western toads.
- While few snakes consume newts and salamanders others find it hard to digest. California newts and mosquitofish are one of them.
- Amphibians and reptiles make up 90 per cent of snake’s diet. Seldom do they eat other small snakes.
- They will be most likely to prey on small birds especially their helpless nestlings. Garter snakes are able to hunt underwater. Their diet is composed of chipmunks, shrews, earthworms, crayfish, spiders, millipedes, carrion, and other assorted insects.
- Garter snakes hunt salamanders by following the scent trail and when it reaches near it, it goes for the final attack.
- They will strike amazingly fast on a prey, holds it and disable it as quickly as possible. Sometimes they do chew the prey especially when the prey is active. Frogs and mice are highly active prey.
- If the water is nearby they will probably prey on aquatic animals. The Ribbon Snake fancy eating anurans (tadpoles and frogs) even though these creatures offer strong chemical defenses.
- Garter snakes swallow the entire prey in one go. Not every day these snakes find their favorite appetite. They must rely on anything when the food is not sufficient.
- While garter snakes prey on live animals they rarely eat eggs.
Garter snakes will enthusiastically eat nightcrawlers (Lumricus terestris) from your garden. Fish is yet another food source for these species as it is readily available in the market. Many keepers feed their snakes with fish only which is NOT good.