San Francisco garter snake - Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia 

 thamnophis st

Origin: The western part of the San Francisco Peninsula, from San Francisco County along the coast to San Mateo County, California.

Length: male around 90/100 cm / female 100/140

age: 6 to 10 years 

They have dorsal scales of blue green, bordered by stripes of black, red (sometimes orange) and blue green. Their head is hardly wider than the neck and is red. His eyes are large compared to other types of garter snakes


Experience: Average snake keeper

Food: Live or dead prey. Primary prey given is, amphibians, earthworms, insects, mice

Feeding adult: earthworms, insects, freshwater fish, mice. 2 times a week.

Feed young: cut into small pieces, rain worms, freshwater fish, insects. Almost every other day.

Water basin: yes

Water change: 3 times a week


There is a choice to offer prey alive or dead. It is advisable to offer dead food. This is because it is more practical and prevents the food animal from injuring your snake. It is advised to offer the food animal with a pair of tongs and to feed your snake outside the residence. This ensures that your hand is not associated with food and prevents you from taking a snake at your hand during feeding. If you go for live food, you must supervise it during feeding. this is because when two snakes grab the same prey, they can injure each other and sometimes even eat each other. The ideal prey is about as wide as the widest part of the snake.


A large water basin, which can accommodate all snakes at the same time, serves as a drinking and bathing place and sometimes also as a toilet. make sure that the water is refreshed when it is dirty. They also drink that water.


A hygienic environment is important to keep your Thamnophis healthy. To achieve this, the accommodation will have to be cleaned regularly. Cleaning once a week is enough. In addition, to prevent the build-up of bacteria, the entire stay must be cleaned and disinfected a few times a year.


This species has a calm character and is usually easy to handle. nevertheless there are some things to look out for while handling. First, never squeeze your snake while handling, because their vertebrae are fragile and can break easily. It is best to keep your snake resting in your hand. Also make sure that your hands are washed and do not smell like food. Lastly,  do not handle your snake when it is sheding and do not handle it in the dark


Minimum size for 1 couple: 100 x 60 x 60

Lying area: 0.5 m2

Day temperature: 24-28C

Night temperature: 18-22C

Hours of light: 12 hours

Humidity degree: 40% -60%

Ground cover: Newspapers, humus or sand

For the stay there are some extra things to pay attention to. The thamnophis is able to wriggle itself through small cracks. Keep this in mind and make sure that there are no small cracks in the accommodation that fits through. In addition, ventilation is needed to keep the air fresh and it is advisable to set up the stay out of the bright sun and as vibration-free as possible.


Hunting method: Strangle snake.

Lifestyle: The San Francisco garter snakes are day-active. Garter snakes are generally more active than most other domestic snake species. During the cooler parts of the day, garter snakes roam their territory in search of food.


This species has a calm character, If garter snakes feel threatened, they will generally flee. If flights are not possible they will defend themselves by threatening and if that does not help by biting. A final defense technique that garter snakes can use is emptying the anal glands, often releasing stools at the same time. This releases a very unpleasant odor.

Points of attention

When purchasing, preferably choose young offspring. Wild caught animals are often infected with (internal and / or external) parasites, regularly carry diseases and are very sensitive to stress.

Costs and Purchase

Legislation: not applicable

One-time costs: This includes the costs for accommodation, lighting, heating, water bowl and decoration. This can together cost a few hundred euros to a few thousand euros. The final amount depends on the quality and size of the products.

Fixed costs: Fixed costs include the costs for the feed, which is a few tens of euros per year.

Unexpected costs: Costs have been incurred if your hose happens to fall ill or your equipment breaks down.

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