Western Blackneck Garter help

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herpseeker1978
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Western Blackneck Garter help

Post by herpseeker1978 » December 4th, 2013, 8:23 pm

I acquired one this year and all I can get it to eat is spadefoots and my supply is running low. Does anyone have any tips to get them converted to mice? I've tried scenting but it isn't working. I've also tried minnows, no interest there. Any help is appreciated!

Josh

Jimi
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Re: Western Blackneck Garter help

Post by Jimi » December 5th, 2013, 12:19 pm

hey Josh,

won't it eat bullfrog tads? or metamorphs? those are rarely hard to come by...couple passes with a seine and you're golden!

just a thought; WC blacknecks can be a hassle huh? ha ha I feel your pain

cheers
Jimi

ThomWild
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Re: Western Blackneck Garter help

Post by ThomWild » December 5th, 2013, 2:23 pm

Josh,
Cyrtopsis can be punks when it comes to feeding. I don't know if you have access to w/c or even bait shops in your area but either bullfrogs or waterdogs would probably be your next best bet. I realize going the bait shop direction has its own possible problems. If all else fails you could always put it through a cool down. Even if you don't think it has the reserves for a full blown brumation, simply putting it through a cool down for a couple of weeks might spark a better (and by that I me less picky) feeding response when brought back out.

As far as scenting goes, will it take a pre-killed spade foot? What about spade foot fillets/chunks? I know it is messy but if it will take those than something that has worked on garters in the past for me is to slowly add mouse parts to the mix of spade foot chunks. As it takes the mouse parts continue to add more mouse and less spade foot to the mix. Like I said this can be messy and still does not always work but I have been pleased with the results I have had from it. The hardest switch is usually from the live toads to the chunked toad, after that it usually isn't long for it to catch on to the mice.

Keep us posted.
-Thomas Wilder

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herpseeker1978
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Re: Western Blackneck Garter help

Post by herpseeker1978 » December 5th, 2013, 3:06 pm

It has plenty of weight on it, I am going to cool everything in a day or so. I could try bait shops and maybe some ponds for bullfrog tads. I am going to try a scented live mouse as well, but probably not until after they hibernate. I've also seen something where it said they would eat lizards, so maybe I'll try that as well. Thanks for the help everyone!

Josh

Jimi
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Re: Western Blackneck Garter help

Post by Jimi » December 5th, 2013, 4:40 pm

I've said it before here (somewhere) - we get all hung up trying to get stuff to eat mice, but if a) you can get it, and b) they really prefer it, heck give them what they WILL eat, and forget the mice. Nasty pissy hairy things anyway. A nice clean slick frog - yum. Ha ha.

I'm no garter guy (tried it, didn't love it, quit it) but I've heard and read that ocellatus are the really, really heinously-picky frog-eaters, and the westerns - as you've read - are a bit more catholic. I have certainly been surprised at some I've found up in the desert, pretty far from any water. I'm thinking lizards might also do the trick, and that if you're really set on it, you'll get there with mice. (Have you been washing the mice? I like Ivory, in bar form. No perfumes. Lather the hell out of that mouse, then rinse it for a good long time. Think "surgical clean".)

But if it'll do bully tads, and better yet frozen/thawed ones, oh man you're on easy street. How big's your freezer?

And to echo Thomas:
something that has worked on garters in the past for me is to slowly add mouse parts to the mix of spade foot chunks
That's worked for me too with garters (using fish, ranids and hylids, but not spades).

Cheers,
Jimi

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Western Blackneck Garter help

Post by Kelly Mc » December 5th, 2013, 8:15 pm

ThomWild wrote:
As far as scenting goes, will it take a pre-killed spade foot? What about spade foot fillets/chunks? I know it is messy but if it will take those than something that has worked on garters in the past for me is to slowly add mouse parts to the mix of spade foot chunks. As it takes the mouse parts continue to add more mouse and less spade foot to the mix. Like I said this can be messy and still does not always work but I have been pleased with the results I have had from it. The hardest switch is usually from the live toads to the chunked toad, after that it usually isn't long for it to catch on to the mice.

Keep us posted.
-Thomas Wilder
Garter snakes do respond well to a mish mosh of chunks and viscera. Another advantage to using thawed, is it enables you to present the food item in the exact same way you plan on presenting the other food item, which i have found to be extremely significant a transitioning tactic, sometimes almost more than the scent, and food item itself.

The site where the preferred food is offered becomes a consistant Icon - whether it is a peice of slate or a low walled, permanent dish - and a new food item is accepted there out of habituated cue, on a keened appetite. If the feeding event of Another Food is much different than the way the fetished item is offered you reduce acceptance. Different food items especially if they are alive often dictate different presentation, which is eliminated by using immobile prey. It ends up giving you more control and ability to diversify diet.

Some garter snakes ignore fish darting around a water feature but the same garter will readily eat them if the water level is decreased enough to inhibit the fishes swimming ability.


Thomas I really agree with your perfunctory cool as an appetite keener as well. Sometimes less can be more.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Western Blackneck Garter help

Post by Kelly Mc » December 5th, 2013, 8:52 pm

The use of habituated cues is something Im excited about and have done alot of work with. Even with herps that have long been cannonized as needing movement to trigger a feeding response. I have found habituation tactics can finesse movement out of the equation, and that many can assess food items more acutely than we may realize.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Western Blackneck Garter help

Post by Kelly Mc » December 6th, 2013, 4:52 am

I hope you will indulge me this one last post -

Sometimes i will get the comment "What about in the wild? They eat this and that alive there moving around"

There are intangibles in biome that dont translate in a 4 walled closed captive system, that may derail feeding behavior we would expect or assume 'is natural'. By creating a uniformity of prey encounter one bypasses a hit or miss approach of these and connect the dots behaviorally with other hardwired patterns that trigger food recognition.

I was told once that it must "be boring for them to eat" but when i post some pics and video of examples it is clear that they are neurally On as they feed. Its not like a domestic animal walking up to a food bowl and eating. There is stalk focus involved - because the food is not moving (except for the initial Drop) So there seems to be a frame of memory involved.
Also think about times you have watched a snake or lizard stalk and seize a live food item - how many times have you seen that once their attention is drawn, the instant they actually decide to nail the prey - it isnt moving at all, but stock still. This is the dot I am connecting to with the methods.

ThomWild
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Re: Western Blackneck Garter help

Post by ThomWild » December 6th, 2013, 9:26 am

I have noticed some of your observations as well Kelly. It is when I mix schedules or prey placement up that I most often run into feeding problems with garters, not prey items. And I will echo what I wrote in my first post, that getting garters to take pre-killed food is the biggest hurdle, after that you can get them to take about anything. I have also noticed that my charina are very dependable feeders when I use the same routine, but if I misplace the pinkies or use a new feeding tub, they completely ignore the food.

-Thomas Wilder

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Western Blackneck Garter help

Post by Kelly Mc » December 6th, 2013, 2:05 pm

Excellent stuff its always cool communicating with you Thomas. Yeah that first hurdle, less agile prey in station comes in handy for that. For my lizards, dubia was perfect. Earthworms, pinkies, anything not real ambulatory for the garters, the dish or container low and broad and a permanent feature. I've mixed it up, put live in with thawed, or just switched it from live to thawed. Alot depends on how hungry they happen to be when you pull the switcheroo. Ha. Hey again thanks for sharing . I love this stuff

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Western Blackneck Garter help

Post by BillMcGighan » December 6th, 2013, 4:47 pm

I've never kept this one, so I'm asking out ignorance.
I've only kept easterns and "radix".

Easterns will eat nightcrawlers (at bait stores and even walmart) like candy.
Have you tried these just to keep it going?


ps
On a side note it is interesting that eastern Ribbons won't touch nightcrawlers.

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