For those of you who keep or kept garters, what all did you offer them? I have a very tiny male who eats pinky mice when I have them available but also eats nightcrawlers and worms and such. I was thinking of offering fish but I don’t know what kind is safest as I know some fish are less than desirable. Also unsure if I should be offering it whole or in chunks (is a raw whole minnow better than a slice of tilapia, etc)
I want to offer him a good varied diet so I’m just looking for more opinions.
Their main diet should be mice. The problem with feeding other things that don’t have bones (or very big ones) is that they tend to not offer very many vitamins. You can easily get a snake with vitamin deficiencies if you don’t feed mice, or don’t coat the bugs you feed them in vitamin powders like you would give a lizard. Any feeder fish you get from a pet store are usually bad quality and can be sickly too, so I don’t usually recommend feeder fish. That said, I recommend reading this;
Mice are considered a pretty good staple and you won’t run into many issues, as @ashleyraeanne already said. People have kept garters for years on mice with absolutely no ill effects - which is more than you can say for a more natural diet representative of what they would eat in the wild.
The problem with fish is the various states of freshness/quality/nutritional quality. Some will be particularly high in toxins, metals, possible parasites, etc and others will just not be a good quality food item. Garters will “hunt” out of a water bowl if you want to supplement them with a trusted source of small feeder fish. They’ll also eat frozen fillets, which gets rid of the parasite problem, but may still present nutrition problems.
ReptiLinks are also a pretty interesting item for colubrids. You can get them in whole-prey (it’s ground up) quail, partial prey frog (bullfrog legs), and more.