California red-sided garter snake information (Are they toxic?)

California red-sided garter snake information (Are they toxic?)

California red-sided garter snake

California red-sided garter snakes are greater than only a fairly face. For many pet house owners and herpetologists, they’re nice companions. With their distinctive coloration and lean, svelte shapes, California red-sided garter snakes deserve to sit down properly on anybody’s listing of the guess pet snakes.

What is a California red-sided garter snake? The California red-sided garter snake is a member of the household Colubridae. It is a subspecies of the widespread garter snake, a gaggle of natricine snakes indigenous to North America. They are often recognizable for his or her distinctive blue/yellow stripe sample on a black and crimson background.

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There’s quite a bit to find when studying in regards to the California red-sided garter snake. You could be questioning, due to its placing crimson sample, if this snake is venomous.

You may also marvel the place you might be almost definitely to seek out one among these snakes within the wild. How must you arrange an enclosure when caring for a California red-sided garter snake? Fortunately, you’ve got all the knowledge you want proper right here!

What do California red-sided garter snakes appear to be?

These mesmerizing snakes are recognized for his or her uncommon and fascinating scale patterns.

California red-sided garter snake close up

As fully-grown grownup snakes, California red-sided garter snakes attain a most of about 3 ft. in size. But they’re very slender, making them light-bodied and fast. These nimble snakes can dart with an agility and velocity unknown to many different snakes.

The base shade of a California red-sided garter snake is crimson, or a type of crimson and black speckle. They have longitudinal blue or yellow stripes – relying on the place you discover them. This snake additionally usually reveals strains, spots and blotches of interlocking crimson and black. When it strikes round, the colours writhe and wriggle. It could be fairly spectacular!

People usually mistake the California red-sided garter snake for a San Francisco garter snake. There is usually some overlap between their two patterns. Also, patterns fluctuate considerably inside a snake species. For instance, typically the California red-sided garter snake is extra prominently black than crimson. Sometimes, its blue stripe is hardly seen, and it’s marked as an alternative with a powerful yellow stripe. These variations imply it may be straightforward to mistake this snake for one among its relations.

Are California red-sided garter snakes toxic?

The California red-sided garter snake produces toxins that it releases into its prey when it bites. These substances might have a poisonous impact on mice, shrews, frogs, voles and small fish (these type part of this snake’s weight loss plan), however they don’t seem to be robust sufficient to poison people.

Because we’re a lot bigger, we’re much less inclined to small quantities of weak poison. If a California red-sided garter snake bit you, you would definitely discover. Getting bitten by any type of animal could be shocking. However, the shock itself could be the most important indicator: the poison itself would solely provide you with a gentle itch.

After the shock wears off, merely clear the wound and bandage it up. California red-sided garter snake tooth are neither very lengthy nor very robust. The puncture wounds are unlikely to be deep sufficient to require any acute medical consideration. However, in case you are involved in regards to the chunk getting contaminated, go to your registered doctor for an examination.

Are they harmful?

California red-sided garter snakes usually are not notably lengthy, and are undoubtedly not notably huge of girth. As a consequence, they’ve a low physique mass. Their petite appetites imply they largely maintain themselves on small prey. Most California red-sided garter snakes eat a mix of bugs, leeches, earthworms, eggs, and small mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

This offers a sign that the California red-sided garter snake is just not a lethal snake. Also, as members of the Colubrid household, they’re totally non-venomous. Their humble dimensions and urge for food, mixed with their lack of any important venom, makes them nearly utterly innocent.

If you step on a California red-sided garter snake accidentally, there’s a probability it’s going to chunk you in self-defense. However, in the event you present respect and warning to this snake, it’s going to almost definitely move you by.

The California red-sided garter snake is just not thought-about a harmful snake, to people. It is mild-mannered and deferent. If threatened, it’s going to nearly actually run away. Only if it feels cornered will it retaliate – it is a organic response, a product of evolution. And even when it does, you shouldn’t come to a lot hurt!

Where are they often discovered? 

California red-sided garter snakes are often discovered on coastal dunes and marshes of… you guessed it – California! It will not be notably well-traveled past the Californian border, however it’s aware of a lot of California’s counties.

Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis happens all through the state of California, in a distribution sample generally known as ‘disjunct’. This mainly means that there’s a inhabitants within the north, in coastal Humboldt County, and a definite inhabitants within the south, between Santa Barbara and San Diego County. The north inhabitants can be unfold into Monterey County.

The cause for the ‘disjunction’, is as a result of the California red-sided garter snake was largely changed by one other subspecies of garter snake in southern Monterey. These two subspecies of garter snake reside in conjunction, however they’re genetically completely different snakes.


As it says above, the California red-sided garter snake is often related to everlasting or near-permanent our bodies of water. This means they occupy marshland, shallow water, and dunes, in addition to lakes.

For instance, the sag ponds within the San Andreas Fault rift zone and freshwater coastal marshes are their main habitat. They like to flee into water to keep away from consideration, and to cover from doable risks or predators.

You would possibly discover them additional inland, in grassland and woodland areas.  

Are they good pets?

Yes! As snakes go, these are sometimes low-maintenance and mild-mannered. Not solely this, however the California red-sided garter snake’s small measurement means it takes up much less area, and a inexpensive urge for food to maintain up with.

You can preserve a California red-sided garter snake in a tank with a 20-gallon capability. Of course, it’s kinder to supply more room, in the event you can. Remember, within the wild, these snakes would possibly journey over miles and miles in the course of the course of a single yr, not to mention a lifetime.

What is the suitable substrate?

The beneficial substrate (bedding) for these snakes is cypress mulch. While this is a bit more costly, there are causes that make it price it:

  • Cypress mulch gained’t dry out your snake’s enclosure in the identical manner as different substrates do.
  • It appears a lot cleaner and aesthetically pleasing than, for instance, paper towels or newspaper.
  • It can be good in your snake’s epidermal (pores and skin) well being – it assists the snake in shedding.

What type of water dish must you put within the enclosure?

Not solely do they should drink, however snakes require a really specific stage of moisture of their pores and skin. This varies from one species to the subsequent. As California red-sided garter snakes are accustomed to residing in, or near, recent water our bodies, this should be emulated inside your snake’s enclosure.

Provide a water dish that’s massive sufficient in your snake to wash in. This will help your pet snake in sustaining a wholesome, well-nourished dermis!

Even if the humidity stage is sufficiently excessive, your pet snake might sometimes wish to totally submerge itself in water. A big water dish can be sure that it has the chance.

What is the life expectancy of a California red-sided garter snake in captivity?

California red-sided garter snakes often reside someplace within the area of 10 years – pretty near the life expectancy of a canine or a cat. However, the longest-lived garter snakes have reached well beyond that, for so long as 17 years!

Do California red-sided garter snakes want a warmth lamp of their enclosure?

Reptiles are cold-blooded. Many folks count on ‘cold-blooded’ to point chilly blood, however this isn’t strictly true.

Cold-blooded animals have a otherwise functioning homeostatic system to warm-blooded animals. A result’s that they require exterior warmth sources. Mammals, alternatively, produce warmth themselves.

An odd anomaly to the expectation is introduced by these animals which indulge in very popular solar – their blood temperature will increase in keeping with the temperature through which they bask. Imagine a lizard sitting beneath a 120°F solar. Its blood would truly be considerably hotter than that of a warm-blooded animal!

The upshot of all that is: sure, California red-sided garter snakes do require an exterior warmth supply. Even if the room which homes your snake is sufficiently heat, it’s a courtesy to supply an additional direct warmth supply. This manner, your pet snake can regulate its personal temperature, by transferring nearer to, or additional manner from, the lamp.

What do California red-sided garter snakes eat?

As you discovered earlier on this information, California red-sided garter snakes have a variable weight loss plan. In the wild, what a snake eats relies upon largely on what it could actually discover, and what it could actually overpower. They usually are not recognized to be fussy eaters. These snakes eat slugs, earthworms, leeches, minnows and rodents. They additionally fortunately eat numerous species of lizard and amphibian – together with frogs’ eggs.

In captivity, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a provider who can imitate a wild California red-sided garter snake’s weight loss plan precisely. But the great factor is – you don’t have to!

California red-sided garter snakes can simply survive, and thrive, on a weight loss plan consisting primarily of frozen thawed rodents. These can be found in a wide range of sizes, and may simply be thawed shortly earlier than feeding. However, it’s a good suggestion to supply some selection, so your snake doesn’t get bored. Variety additionally ensures a broader dietary profile.

Add in some night time crawlers and feeder fish (these comprise a helpful enzyme known as thiaminase, which breaks down vitamin B1). Note: don’t feed your snake solely on feeder fish – this may be very unhealthy and in the end lethal.

Garter snakes do NOT eat crickets, mealworms or bugs.

Last however not least: garter snakes have cool scales

Well, all snakes do. But California red-sided garter snakes are distinctive of their scale construction and kind. Their scales are keeled all the way in which down the size of the snake. ‘Keeled’ scales have a ridge working lengthways down the middle.

What’s the purpose of keeled scales? That’s query. Unfortunately, there aren’t any good solutions on the market to match it. Some folks have steered that keeled scales play a job, nevertheless oblique, in snake survival.

The ridge impact reduces the sheen of the scales. This makes them duller in look that, in flip, makes these snakes more durable to identify from afar. Being seen benefits some snakes; others bask of their camouflage. They are more durable to see within the wild that, for these small and largely defenseless snakes, has acquired to be a bonus.


That’s about all there’s to know in regards to the California red-sided garter snake. Or is it? If you’ve got any extra information you’d wish to share with us, be at liberty to jot down them within the feedback under. Add your voice to the combination – be part of the dialog!

Do California red-sided garter snakes make good pets? Our verdict is: Yes! They make nice pets. They are comparatively small and mild-mannered, low-maintenance and low-cost to feed – in contrast with another snakes. If you wish to hop onto the snake-keeper bandwagon, this can be place to begin.

If there’s anybody on the market – a buddy, a member of the family – who’s eager on snakes, be sure you ship this information their manner. Or, in the event you’re extra desirous about retaining different varieties of snakes, there are many out there guides on our web site. You can learn all about the way to preserve rosy boas, ball pythons, or a special subspecies of kingsnake.

Either manner, your suggestions is appreciated. Happy snake-keeping!

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