What Does A Garter Snake Eat? (Diet, Habits & Venom)

Garter snakes are carnivores. They have a varied diet due to food being either scarce or abundant in the wild. Although they feed primarily on live animals, they also will eat eggs.

Garter Snake Diet

  • Slugs
  • Earthworms (except red wrigglers)
  • Leeches
  • Lizards
  • Frogs
  • Frog eggs
  • Minnows
  • Small rodents

What does Minnow mean?

The word Minnow is a term that refers to many different types of small fish.

Garter snakes can not eat red wrigglers, also known as compost worms. 

Why are red wigglers toxic to garter snakes?

Red wigglers are also known as compost worms used to make compost. These worms produce coelomic fluids, which is toxic to garter snakes. Garter snakes have a low tolerance for these toxins produced by compost worms. The toxins cause the snake to be very sick and can be fatal. Red wigglers toxicity levels may depend on their diet. However, if you have a pet garter snake or thinking about getting one, you should avoid feeding a garter snake red wriggler worms at all costs.

Physical Characteristics

Garter snakes are one of the most recognizable types of snake in North America. With their vibrant colours and often three-stripe pattern, they can be hard to miss!


Amazingly, the snakes come in different colours such as black, brown, grey or olive background. The stripes can be either white, yellow, blue greenish and sometimes even brown .


Are garter snakes diurnal?

Yes, garter snakes are diurnal. They typically spend the daylight hours hunting for food and basking in the sun to keep their body temperature up.

Garter snakes are one of the fastest-moving reptiles in North America, they often climb into shrubs or vines to hunt for prey. They can also be excellent swimmers when need be!

Are garter snakes venomous? 

Only recently its been discovered that garter snakes produce neurotoxic venom; however, it is very mild and does not pose a health risk to humans. Also, they don’t have fangs or enlarged back teeth, so they cannot effectively administer it to humans. Instead, the venom is stored in their Duvernoy’s glands, and the mild toxin is released when swallowing prey.

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How big do garter snakes grow?

Garter snakes grow up to 100 cm long and are relatively slender.

  • 100 cm long (1 metre)

Can you keep a garter snake as a pet?

Yes, you can keep garter snakes as a pet. They make lovely pets and are surprisingly easy to care for! You can also have more than one garter snake in a tank. However, you will need an appropriate size tank that is large enough for them to not compete for space. 

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By Teresa Mine

Teresa has studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition. She loves sharing her knowledge and educating through her articles. She loves binge-watching animal documentaries. Teresa has some pets; she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster.