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Now I have seen who grades the so called experts...............

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Posted by glenn bartley on June 16, 2002 at 08:59:54:

In Reply to: Now it makes me wonder who grades the experts.......... posted by Glenn Bartley on June 16, 2002 at 07:37:45:

and all I can say is brother you have got to be kidding me if you think the quality of answers on that site is better than what you get on I checked a few answers to questions about Garter Snakes. There were lots of questions and not as many answers. I figured I would go with Garter Snake questions because I am pretty certain that most advanced snake keepers (those who would really be experts) do not usually bother keeping Garter Snakes. So my logic was that I might see a few real expert answers and also a bunch of not so expert answers. I was, in my opinion, very right. (Please bear in mind this whole answer is just my humble opinion based on 35 years of snake keeping and mind you I do not consider myself an expert.) Maybe the expert on that other site, who is doing the judging of the other experts is not such an expert at all! You should all visit that site to decide for yourselves.

An example of what I found is as follows:

When asked what to feed a "Gardner Snake" (the inquirer's spelling not mine) the answers ran from:

Feed them Goldfish and Mice

To feed them goldfish and mice not wider around than the snake and don't get wild but buy from a pet shop (note the operative words, in my opinion, on where to buy was from a pet shop)
Now these two answers might have your snake survive on this diet, but I wonder how many Eastern Garter Snakes from areas such as NY (even C/Bred ones) would be readily willing to eat a small mouse. I have kept, oh let me see, well over 100 Garter Snakes from said area. I have bred them at least a few times. All fed well on a diet of minnows, earthworms, and occasional nestling bird of proper size (ones that feel from the nest), frogs and so on. I have never had one, NOT EVEN ONE, readily accept a house mouse of any size from pinky to adult unless the mouse was first scented with a fish, worm slime or frog slime. Sure after giving them scented mice for a while they will switch - but it takes quite a few feedings that are scented. The answers on the other forum said nothing about scenting. Granted some forms of Western Terrestrial Garters do eat rodents, but no one specified that. No one asked: 'Hhey what type of Garter snake do you have?'.

On diet, another answer on said other forum, to the same question said the following:

The expert corrected the person asking the question to say they are called garter Snakes (nice touch). Then the so called expert went on to say that: Garters eat small fish (goldfish and guppies) and insects such as worms. (I never knew that a worm was an insect, I thought it was a worm). The expert also said they will also eat baby mice with the eyes not open. The expert further advised to feed babies one item of food per week and adults one item of food every 2 weeks and that if you overfeed them they will not live as long. Furthermore the expert said that if you feed a Garter Snake something larger than the thickest part of the snake's body it will choke. (Yes the expert actually said it will choke!)

Now maybe you think that is qualified expert advice from the three of these so called experts. In my opinion, these answers are not expert at all. First of all no one asked what type of Garter Snake they were dealing with. Secondly, it is or should be common knowledge among Garter Snake experts that certain fish often contain Thiaminase which prevents vitamin B1 absorbtion by snakes that eat a diet heavy with it causing a vitamin deficiency. Guess what - Goldfish are reported as one of the major culprits. Of course supplementing the diet with mice (if you know how to get the snake started on them) would be very helpful; however so would earthworms and, most Garter Snakes need no help getting them to devour earthworms. In fact a varied diet of different types of fish will also be beneficial because many types do not contain Thiaminase. I was also a bit surprised that no one suggested supplementing with vitamin B1.

One thing an expert would know about Garter Snakes, in my opinion, is that they need to be fed MORE OFTEN than do most other snakes. As adults they should be fed two to three times per week if eating fish and other prey items like earthworms or small frogs. This more frequent feeding schedule can be reduced somewhat when feeding mice to some Garters, but I have always found that my Eastern Garters (aka: Common Garter Snakes) do best when fed at least twice per week. If you do not think I am right here, then may I suggest that you turn the pages of one of the most widely accepted snake care books I have ever read: Keeping and Breeding Snakes by Chris Mattison (The Balnford Press. 1988, London. pp: 141 to 145).

Now as for the advice as where to get your Garter Snake I believe one of them said Captive Bred (great advice for a beginner) and another said to buy from a pet shop. Just where does the expert think that most pet shops acquire their Garter Snakes from. They get them from suppliers who get them from collectors who get them in the field. Yes most of them are likely wild caught from what I can gather from talking to other herpers and pet store owners. One expert also said that if you get it wild caught it will die, wow! All snakes will eventually die; with captive snakes it is only a matter of how healthy they that usually determines how long they will live. A freshly caught wild Garter Snake, in my opinion, has more of a chance than most pet shop garters simply because you can start to care for it properly from day one. It seems to me (my opinion) that most pet shops don't give very good care to reptiles and things like pet shop Garter Snakes have often languished in captivity for some time before they are purchased. Someone even mentioned parasites in W/C Garter Snakes and I think also tried to say that they were transmitable from the snakes to humans. Maybe good advice, but no advice on how to take care of parasites (such as bringing a fecal sample to a vet for a fecal float and fecal smear).

All three of the answers received an A or A+ rating. Go to the site look at the first page on snake questions, you can easily find the one I viewed and then you will see for your self. Sure I only reported on one question and its set of answers, but that is enough, in my opinion, to give bad advice (my opinion again) that will adversely effect at least one person's Garter Snake. That person is very possibly confident that the answers were all given by EXPERTS! At least on forums like there is no one endorsing that the answers are from an expert when in fact they might not be (except maybe for other users of the forums, but no one emloyed by KS does that as far as I can see).

I am not saying the other site is a bad one, or that all of the advice is bad, or that most of the so rated experts are not actually experts. I am saying that in my opinion the other site probably has some faults, just like all of the other herp sites I have been to, including It is certainly not any better than in my ever so humble opinion.

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