How Big Do Garter Snakes Get (And How Long It Takes to Grow)?

Are you wondering how big your pet garter snake is going to get?  It is important to know how big your snake will become so you know how to adequately care for it and how big its tank needs to be. Today, I am going to help you answer that question about how big your garter snake may get.

So, how big do garter snakes get? Garter snakes on average tend to be around 5.3 ounces and anywhere from 18 to 30 inches long depending on gender and the type of garter snake you may have. 

Due to their small size and stature, these poor snakes are very vulnerable to predators and its harder for them to hunt for food.  Garter snakes are one of the most common snakes in North America and are often just kept as pets.

What is a Garter Snake’s Size?

Garter snakes start off at around 6-8 inches when they are born. They are on the smaller size of snakes. They can grow to be up to 5 feet as a mature adult. Garter snakes grow up to their adult forms really fast. From the time they are born to the time they are fully grown it only takes 1.5 to 2 years to reach their full size.

Fun fact: The females are larger than the males by about an average of 15 inches.

They begin life super small and they can get pretty big by the time they are an adult, possibly reaching a decent size of up to 5 feet in length. This, however, is as big as they get because this is a generally small species in physical size.

Because of their smaller size, they generally eat smaller things like worms and other bugs. Snakes eat in relation to their size.

How Can I Tell if It is a Garter Snake?

Garter snakes are pretty easy to point out. They have some key characteristics that are easy to spot which can help a lot if you know them.

The general color of these snakes tends to vary between reds and oranges and yellows, to blues, greens, and browns. But the key characteristic to look out for in these snakes is their striping patterns.

Garter snakes have three longitudinal stripes down their backs. One goes down the middle of their back. The other two go down the sides of their back parallel to the center line. These lines are generally a yellow or green color on a dark brownish base color on these snakes.

These snakes are best known for the stripes down their backs, but some also have spots on them. These spots go between the stripes on the snakes back and result in the snake looking checkered.

Some of these snakes can possibly even not have spots at all, which is crazy and out of the ordinary, but it just depends on the species of garter snake. These snakes generally are characterized by their stripes though. It is rare that a garter snake won’t have its stripes or spots.

Another characteristic to help identify garter snakes, besides their stripes and size, is by their unique tongues. Garter snakes’ tongues are kinda special because they are two-toned. Their tongues go from red at the base to black on the tip. 

Also, remember that these snakes are thin and only grow up to 5 feet long. They aren’t very big which can help them hide well especially in grasses or weeds so be careful where you step!

These snakes like to be warm too so you will generally see them in the warmer parts of the morning and in the afternoon.

Are Garter Snakes Aggressive When They Grow Big?

Garter snakes are generally not aggressive at all. They are a very timid snake, often kept as a house pet. They make great harmless friends to keep you company!

Garter snakes are not aggressive to others unless they feel unsafe. When they feel unsafe they simply let off a bad-smelling musk to drive their predators away. Due to garter snakes being so small, they can’t fight for themselves very well if at all, making them super vulnerable. They have a lot of predators due to their being so vulnerable including:

  • Hawks
  • Crows
  • Bears
  • Bullfrogs
  • Snapping Turtles
  • Foxes
  • Squirrels

These are just some of the main predators for these poor timid snakes.

These defenseless snakes are extremely vulnerable to the threats of many other animals and species because of their inability to fight due to their size and lack of venom. 

Are Garter Snakes Poisonous When Grown?

Garter snakes are generally harmless and only bite if they don’t feel safe. This bite won’t poison or kill you though!

Usually when garter snake bites you is merely just a bite with no nasty side effects besides being itchy, a little swollen, and annoying, like any bite would be. But there are no awful toxins or poisons in most garter snakes, resulting in them being a rather safe snake. These snakes can’t hurt you!

In order to eat, these timid snakes do release a toxin in their prey that paralyzes them, making it easier to swallow them, but this toxin isn’t potent enough to work on humans.

If bitten, all this little toxin will do to a human is making the wound itch a bit and that’s it. The toxin won’t kill or paralyze you.

If you happen to get bit by a garter snake, don’t fear! These snakes only bite when they feel threatened and you probably just got too close for comfort. Simply give it some space and tend to your bite.

Since garter snakes aren’t venomous or poisonous to humans, simply just clean out your wound well so there isn’t any lingering bacteria or anything and bandage it so it stays clean until its healed, like you would any other wound.

If you want more specific information on this topic that we have written about, click here.

Related Questions:

Are garter snakes good to have in your yard?Garter snakes are actually good to have in your yard or garden because they will help to keep away any unwanted pests or insects that my be getting into your plants. Garter snakes are your friends when it comes to a thriving garden!

What should I do if I get bit by a garter snake?If you get bit by a garter snake, simply just clean out the wound and bandage it like you would any other normal wound. Garter snakes are not venomous or poisonous so you don’t have to worry about rushing as soon as you can to a hospital to get some anti-venom medicine.

What do I do if my garter snake doesn’t have enough room in its tank? If your garter snake looks a little crammed, you’ll want to consider getting a bigger tank for your scaly friend. Adult Garter snakes need about a 15 gallon tank to fit comfortably and happily. Snakes need enough room in their tank to exercise and stay healthy!

Danielle Newsom

Hey guys! I am an English major studying in Southeastern Idaho and loving every second of it. I love blogging and strive to help others with my colleagues to have ease of access in one place to anything they may want to know about snakes. I have some experience with snakes and have done crazy amounts of research in the areas I lack to help you guys get the best quality answers possible.

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