(Thamnophis) General Care and maintenance
DISTRIBUTION: Southern Canada, most of the USA into Mexico.
SIZE: Up to 4.5 feet (135 cm), usually 30-32 inches (76-81 cm.)
TEMPERAMENT: May be nervous at first and discharge a musky secretion from their vent. May also bite at first, but frequent handling and time spent in captivity will usually calm the snake. These snakes can become extremely tame.
HARDINESS: Extremely hardy when properly maintained. Cold tolerant.
FOOD: Live goldfish, minnows, guppies, various other small fish, tadpoles, frogs, nightcrawlers, insects and occasionally pinkie mice. In time, it may be possible for you to hand feed your snake with pieces of fish from the market. Give entrails and skin also and do not completely cut out live food to ensure full dietary requirements are met.
HOUSING: Minimum 10 gallon standard fish tank. You may use pine or aspen shavings, potting soil or orchid bark as a substrate, but unless you have a micro-habitat established, I recomend newspaper. Newspaper is easy to remove and replace, ensuring the cage stays clean. Branches, select driftwood, hollow logs, corkbark slabs, rocks and green moss may all be used for landscaping. Limit your landscaping materials so it is not too difficult to clean your snakes cage.
WATER: Provide a shallow water dish for feeding live fish or tadpoles. Provide a second water bowl for drinking water. Clean daily.
TEMPERATURE/HUMIDITY: Day 68F-84F (20C-29C) gradient. Night 58F-70F (14C-21C.) Moderate humidity is provided by water dish and occasional mistings.
LIGHTING: Fluorescent full spectrum/UV radiation reptile lights are recommended, but may not be absolutely necessary for long term health.
HEATING: An under tank heater can be used to maintain proper warmth, but may not be necessary. Use a thermometer. DO NOT use an infra-red lamp for heating.
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