Do Garter Snakes Eat Mice? [& How to Feed Them]

Garter snakes make for great pets; they are mild-tempered, harmless, and easy to care for. However, feeding them can be tricky, it’s not like you can just give them table scraps, and most people are not even sure of what garter snakes eat in the wild.

Many people think that garter snakes simply eat mice in the wild, but do they?

So, do garter snakes eat mice? Garter snakes do eat mice, but you should never feed your garter snakes live mice because the mouse will bite and hurt the snake, instead, you should feed your garter snake small fish, crickets, earthworms, slugs, or small amphibians.

In this post, we are going to go through what garter snakes actually eat and what they don’t.

Do Garter Snakes eat mice?

garter snake eating prey to show how do garter snakes eat mice

Yes, they do! Garter snakes have been observed to consume mice on numerous occasions. Despite the fact that mice are too big for young Garter Snakes to eat, they make a wonderful meal for an adult Garter Snake.

Garter snakes may go without eating for up to 7 or 10 days after consuming a mouse.

Mice are a great food for Garter Snakes. They’re easy to come by, and they’re sold at many pet stores. Before feeding your garter snake, thaw it out overnight in the fridge or for a few hours out of the freezer.

You’ll need to remove the mouse’s skull, too, since Garter Snakes can’t eat it. You may also have to trim down your Garter Snake’s meal a bit. Also, keep in mind that if the mouse has an unpleasant odor after thawing, it is not safe to offer to your Garter Snake.

Garter snakes in the wild are less likely to consume mice than fish and other smaller prey because they make up the bulk of their diet. This also necessitates that they open their jaw wide to accommodate the bigger meals.

However, garter snakes are not really picky eaters, and they will eat whatever is available to them.

While garter snakes can eat mice, you should not feed your pet snake wild mice because the mice can bite and often do, and this will not only injure the snake, but can also infect it with harmful bacteria that the mouse is carrying.

You can learn more about why you should not feed pet snake live mice here and what you can do instead.

Do Garter Snakes eat rats?

Garter Snakes do not usually eat rats. Rats are usually larger in size and may resist capture.

Most garter snakes will not want to risk their lives by attempting to eat a rat, which is why it’s not worth the effort for most of them. If the rat is a youngster or juvenile, however, the garter snake may go ahead and consume it.

Garter snakes cannot generally consume meals like these, unless you chop the rat into smaller pieces that are more manageable for your garter snake to digest.

Garter snakes in your garden may be a discouragement for rats. Because the rat will not know if there are any additional predators in the area, it will be less inclined to stop by your yard seeking food.

The rat will just keep on going past your yard or garden, regardless of whether the Garter Snake is unlikely to eat it.

How to feed your garter snake mice?

To feed your garter snakes mice, you will need to purchase live mice from a pet store. Make sure that the mice are healthy and do not have any mites or fleas on them before you offer them to your snake.

Some people like to feed their snakes frozen mice, but I do not recommend this because it can be hard on the snake’s digestive system.

When it comes to feeding your garter snake, do not feed your Garter Snake a pinkie mouse. These are baby mice that have been killed and skinned before being sold at pet stores.

They do not provide enough nutritional value for the snakes, so they should be avoided if you want a healthy meal for your garter snake. When you do feed your snake, make sure that the mouse is thawed out and free of parasites.

You can also dust the mice with a calcium supplement before you offer them to your snake to ensure that they are getting enough nutrients.

If you’re having trouble finding live mice at your local pet store, you may purchase frozen mice online.

How do garter snakes feed in the wild?

Snakes frequently employ the same approach when looking for food; they wrap around and squeeze them, or inject their prey with poison to kill them faster.

Snakes that live in water, like Garter Snakes, are not subject to these limitations. Garter snakes take advantage of their agility and speed to capture and consume their prey in a matter of seconds. Most of the time, while it is still alive.

They can attack swiftly and methodically because to their speed on land and in the water.

In the water, they use their tails as rudders to quickly change directions and grab prey that may be swimming nearby.

Garter snakes consume a variety of small animals in the wild, such as amphibians (frogs, toads), earthworms, slugs, leeches, fish and even other snakes.

They will also eat small mammals, such as rats, mice, chipmunks and squirrels.

Garter snakes do not usually eat birds because they are able to fly away. While they do eat some insects, this is not their main food source.

Garter snakes will consume larger prey if it is available to them, but the majority of their diet is made up of small prey.


Garter snakes can eat mice, and garter snakes are usually not picky eaters. In the wild, Garter snakes will eat anything they can hunt that’s small enough to swallow, and their attitude in captivity is similar.

Garter snakes are usually harmless to humans and not seriously dangerous to other pets, although if you are going to keep one, make sure it doesn’t interact with your dog or cat to avoid any accidents. Dogs, in particular, don’t get along well with snakes.

They do make for good pets, and if you find them in your garden, it’s best to leave them alone.

Garter snakes are friendly and useful to your garden as they can eat small insects or rodents that can wreak havoc on your garden, and even if they don’t eat larger rodents like rats, they are enough to deter them and make the rat stay away from your garden.

Helpful Resources

Common Garter Snakes

Eastern Garter Snakes

Animal Facts: Common garter snake

Thamnophis sirtalis – Common Garter Snake

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