Alan Francis Garter Snakes – updated 2023


Alan Francis Garter Snakes

Updated 2023

Garter snakes - cheap to run?

Low energy consumption

Garter snakes - cheap to run?

Whilst keeping any reptile in the UK is going to require some form of heating, and therefore add to energy bills, garter snakes are arguably amongst the least expensive of all reptiles to keep in captivity. Most are temperate species, and are adapted to relatively cool climates, and are cold-tolerant. They do not require 24/7 heating, and indeed there are suggestions that warm night-time temperatures are counter-productive and can cause gravid females to retain their babies. 

Most garter snakes require only a warm basking spot (for example, a 50W basking bulb (my preference is for Arcadia solar flood 50W) connected to a dimming thermostat. This bulb can be on a timer linked to natural daylength. No night time heating is required. 

Based on average current utility costs (April 2023 – 33.2 p per unit) then a single cage with such a bulb would cost a maximum of £6.05 per month to run, based on 12 hours per day, and no reduction below 50W being made by the dimming stat.


Reduced feeding costs

California garter snakes eating cat food

In comparison with many other snakes, garter snakes are amongst the cheapest of all to feed. Generally they do not require to be fed rodents, and will readily eat fish – with foods such as trout fillets, smelt and even cat food working out considerably less expensive than mice. There is an option to make food for them (see ‘home made food’ on my maintenance page).