The Garter Snake is one of most common snakes across North America and Central America. It is a popular first pet for children, since it is inexpensive, interesting to watch, and easy to feed.
Garter snakes are meat eaters, but can be fed only fish, such as minnows or small feeders. They need about 10-15 small feeders a week.
A 20 gallon aquarium is appropriate for a garter snake. It should have a mesh top and locking clips to prevent escape, since these snakes are famous for getting out of their enclosures. In the wild, they live near water, so they should have a shallow dish of water for bathing. There should be hiding places such as foliage and bark tunnel, as well as a stick for rubbing against to remove skin. In order for the snake to digest properly, it needs a heater. An undertank heater is best but it should not cover the entire aquarium, so the snake has a place to be if it gets too hot. Place the aquarium in a room with sunlight (to prevent bone malformations). There should be activity in the room, or else the snake will be bored and spend all its time hiding. The aquarium should be cleaned weekly.
Garter snakes shed their skin every month or two. Before shedding, the snake's eyes will start to look cloudy and it will stop being interested in food. It should take about a day or two for all of the skin to come off. If it doesn't come off completely, this is due to lack of moisture, so spritz the snake with water to help the process along.
These snakes can and should be handled but it is important to do it right. Firmly reach into the cage so as not to stress the snake. Handle it very gently and allow it freedom of movement, moving its head very carefully in the desired direction.