Meet Pete

Pete is a Yellow Racer garter snake.  A friend of ours who is very knowledgeable about snakes came over to help teach us how to take care of Pete and brought us a big snake tank he didn’t need.  He spent a lot of time handling Pete and ended up telling us far more than we could have hoped about the baby snake.  He’s about one year old.  He hadn’t eaten, most likely, since before the new year.  He had puncture wounds on him most likely from a small rodent.  If Max hadn’t have brought him home, out of the wild, he would probably die.

We have him in a small terrarium for the moment.  Robert and Shanta (our friends who keep snakes and are our snake advisers) said to leave him in the small terrarium until he’s eaten.  He finally did eat a tadpole.  You could have heard my shouts and screams of joy from a mile away.  Snakes are not frequent eaters (once a week generally, or in the wild, whenever they can catch a meal) but six months of no food is not good for any snake.  Because I’m a phenomenally anxious person I have kept Pete in the smaller terrarium for longer because I want him to eat TWO meals before getting used to a brand new environment (which may cause him to refrain from eating again until he’s adjusted- hey- snakes sound just like me!) (Except for the whole eating dealio.  I tend to eat at least two times a day.  Sometimes more.  And I don’t eat tadpoles as a general rule.)

Garter snakes ARE venomous but their venom doesn’t happen to be toxic to humans.  Their teeth are like a ridge of cartilage and don’t easily break human skin.  Pete did finally bite Max and he said it tickled.

It is the sweetest thing in the world to see how gentle Max is with Pete and how much he enjoys him.  Most nights he brings Pete out just before bed so we can all say good night to him.  I think it’s good for a young boy’s soul to watch over an animal of his own.



  1. Aimee says:

    Oh, that is so sweet. I’m glad he’s getting this opportunity. (As to whom the “he” refers, take your pick!)

    (You have to understand the depth of my phobia to appreciate that I read this whole post and didn’t click away when I saw the subject. And I didn’t even get nauseated looking at the photos. Go, me!)

  2. angelina says:

    You are very very brave!! Philip has the same phobia. It’s like his worst nightmare to have his son come home from school shoving a snake at him excitedly. To live with one in the house? also not so comfortable for him. He’s doing marvelously well. You both deserve a medal of bravery for overcoming phobias to sit here and even talk about them. Although I don’t have a snake phobia, I’m not sure I would be as calm as Philip is if Max brought home a black widow to love and care for as my brother used to do when I was a kid.

    It really is sweet. I think that’s what’s helping Philip cope with this whole snake in his house freakitude.

    So go you!!!!

  3. French Knots says:

    I’m not over keen on snakes but Pete does look rather sweet. Possibly because he is living in your house not mine. Though a spider would be worse or a stick insect, because of their legs I think, they make me feel itchy all over.
    Will he grow much bigger?

  4. Allison says:

    Yes, every boy (and girl) should have an animal to watch over, and the more unusual the better! Cats and dogs…phhht. I was the little girl who collected insects and eventually toads – none of which thrilled my mother, but my dad was very supportive, punching hols in the tops of mayo jar lids, and finding an old aquarium to be re-purposed as a toad habitat. Kids caring for animals, even strange ones, teaches so much about patience and the value of simply enjoying the act of observation and providing basic necessities to another living creature…

  5. angelina says:

    Yes! Exactly. I find it just adds to the charm that is Allison that you kept a toad when you were a little girl! I have a deep fascination and respect for insects but, like I think I mentioned, I’m pretty thankful Max isn’t bringing black widows or any other spiders home as pets. I have a hard time sleeping when I know there are spiders in the next room. My brother used to keep spiders he found in jars and sometimes they would escape, to my deep agony.

    Last night Philip and Max brought Pete two tadpoles to eat (we are trying to get on a weekly schedule now that we’ve got him eating) and today he ate both of them and we noticed some snake poop on one of the rocks Max set up in Pete’s terrarium and I told Max “we” could clean it up later. Max said “Why don’t I just take it out now and clean the rock in the sink?” which he did. I was so proud of him. He doesn’t help clean up after the kitties but he just cleaned up a pet’s excrement with no complaints or hesitation. I call that some real maturity in him.

  6. Mesha says:

    I found a baby racer just like that today. I put him in a little cricket keeper. I had to pull him out of the mouth of one of my dogs. The snake scared the daylights out of a 109lb lab XD who thought he was a stick that moved. I was wondering if I could get some info on caring for them. He’s a bit smaller than the one you have. I always assumed they ate bugs, I was told that they eat worms too. I have an Ornate Pacman Frog, so I have crickets just not tiny ones. This was a neat spot to find since most people think of these awesome snakes as pests. I hope to learn more about them so I can care for my tiny guy properly.

  7. angelina says:

    Hi Mesha – I’m not an expert on this since this baby racer is the only one we’ve ever had. We got advice from a our friend who is very experienced with snakes and he suggested that we feed him cut up pieces of pinkies (baby mice – quite disturbing, actually – you can get them in pet stores) so I imagine that if you wanted to cut up a cricket (eh… yum?) you could try feeding him that. Tiny earthworms are good too. But what ended up working for Pete were tiny tadpoles. We have a very small pond in our back yard and had tons of tadpoles. We put a small dish of water in Pete’s terrarium and put a tiny tadpole in it. It took Pete a long time to finally eat one – but he did. It may have been in there for 24 hours before he’d eat. Our friend Robert said that snakes won’t eat when they’re stressed out – so after being in your dog’s mouth the racer might not eat immediately.

    We loved Pete! He was really badly injured though and so after two months he died. My husband has a snake phobia but Pete actually made him less afraid. My son and I were so sad when he died. Our friend Robert said he didn’t think Pete would last long with his injuries. But at least his last two months were safe and he ate and enjoyed himself.

    I hope your tiny racer makes it! I wish you the very best luck – and it’s great to hear from others who don’t think garter snakes are pests. They’re harmless and they eat rodents when they’re full grown.

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