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Old 06-21-19, 12:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
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My snake thinks my finger is food.

So i caught a wild garter snake a few months ago and as of late when i go to feed him/her or clean its cage or even handle it... It tries to nip at my fingers thinking im food. Now he has always been docile and when i caught him he didnt even realease his stink glad. So i know he isnt acting out of aggresion. What can i do to help him learn im not food?
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Old 06-21-19, 11:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: My snake thinks my finger is food.

Put him back outside
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Old 06-21-19, 07:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: My snake thinks my finger is food.

I don't really see a need. He is healthy and domestication of wild Western garter snakes is quite common as well as harmless. If you look it it's nothing out of the norm.
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Old 06-22-19, 07:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: My snake thinks my finger is food.

There is no such thing as domestication when it comes to snakes. Even captive bred animals aren't truly domesticated. Absolutely zero need to take something from the wild that is commonly bred in captivity, but sounds like you're set on keeping it.

How is it accessing your fingers in the first place when you feed it? The answer to that question may help us.
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Old 06-22-19, 09:00 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: My snake thinks my finger is food.

Let it go back outside. Buy a captive bred animal from a reputable breeder. Wild caught animals often carry parasites.
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Old 06-23-19, 02:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: My snake thinks my finger is food.

Andy G, when we put his pinkie in , we use tweezers and he now associates our hands as the ones that feed him. So now when we try to handle him he comes towards our fingers a bit nippy. He settles down after we get him out but i think we will start feeding him in a separate feeding tank and use a food dish from now on. We are set on keeping him and he is very healthy. He has grown half a foot since we got him and shows all signs of a healthy snake.
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Old 06-23-19, 02:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: My snake thinks my finger is food.

For the record, there is no need to get rid of him. There cant be any captive bred snakes unless someone took them from the wild and did the same thing we did. We plan on getting an opposite gender snake after we take it to the vet to properly sex it. Snake breeding is something i have decided to do.
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Old 06-24-19, 07:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: My snake thinks my finger is food.

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Originally Posted by Garterdad13 View Post
Andy G, when we put his pinkie in , we use tweezers and he now associates our hands as the ones that feed him. So now when we try to handle him he comes towards our fingers a bit nippy. He settles down after we get him out but i think we will start feeding him in a separate feeding tank and use a food dish from now on. We are set on keeping him and he is very healthy. He has grown half a foot since we got him and shows all signs of a healthy snake.
I see. Perhaps try using longer tweezers to reduce the association, as well as interacting more with it so that it doesn't expect food when your hand approaches.

Feeding tanks do nothing to stop such associations. In fact, it may then associate handling with feeding since every time it eats you'd have to handle it first. A step in the wrong direction. A food dish however may be helpful.
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Old 06-24-19, 07:38 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: My snake thinks my finger is food.

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Originally Posted by Garterdad13 View Post
There cant be any captive bred snakes unless someone took them from the wild and did the same thing we did.
Garter snakes have been bred in captivity for a few decades now, and just like with other species, one reason we breed in captivity is to reduce populations being taken from the wild. Sounds like it's thriving in your care, though.
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Old 06-24-19, 09:37 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: My snake thinks my finger is food.

Since you're insistent on keeping the animal, I'll try to help you out...

A) use longer tongs

B) do NOT transfer to a separate feeding tub.
Feeding tubs are old school and proven to be counter productive. Feeding tubs will
1) increase the likelihood of the snake refusing food. Moving = stress. Stress = refusal
2) increase the chance of the snake regurgitating it's meal. Moving back to the enclosure = stress. Stress = regurge.
3) increase your chances of getting bit. Snakes remain in feed mode for hours (up to 48 hours, but I've never observed more than 24ish hours) so that will increase your chances of being tagged.

And you're right, there can't be captive bred snakes without them being taken from the field. But garters have been bred in captivity for many, many years. There are reasons people in the pet trade buy captive bred animals. Captive bred are typically much more healthy than wild caught. (just because the snake appears healthy does not mean it is. Snakes are fantastic at hiding sickness).
There's no need to take wild animals out of their natural habitat. I mean, garters are cheap money. Just buy a captive bred animal.

If you're planning to breed, you should seriously take years of studying and learning. Breeding animals is not something to be taken lightly or jumped into. These are living creatures.
And unless you're planning on keeping all of the offspring you're going to have an extremely difficult time finding homes for those animals. Nobody wants to buy garters that aren't from a captive bred bloodline. And selling them isn't easy without building up a reputation. Garters aren't in very high demand, so you may never end up selling them due to inexperience and wild caught bloodlines.

Just some food for thought. But starting with one wild caught animal isn't a very responsible way to get into the hobby these days. Especially to start breeding. Learn about the animals before capturing them and trying to breed them.
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Old 06-24-19, 12:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: My snake thinks my finger is food.

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Originally Posted by Garterdad13 View Post
I don't really see a need. He is healthy and domestication of wild Western garter snakes is quite common as well as harmless. If you look it it's nothing out of the norm.
I never said the snake needed to go back outside. I simply answered your question to solve your problem in the easiest way possible.

Put the snake back outside and your fingers will no longer be thought of as food.
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