Thamnophis eques patzcuaroensis (Conant, 2003); Lake Pátzcuaro Garter Snake
Length and size of Thamnophis eques patzcuaroensis
T.eques is a very large and heavily built species of garter snake and Conant (2003) had set the new record for T. eques (obscurus) at 121,6 cm total length (TL). Especially the females can grow very large and heavy. In fact adult female T. eques are the largest garter snakes I have ever seen. The only garter snake that really grows to much larger size is Thamnophis gigas from California. The new record for T. eques is now set at 130,7 cm (Bol & Bruchmann, 2012).
Conant (2003) mentions a large gravid female T. e. patzcuaroensis of 102,5 cm total length. My 2 large adult females are 112,5 and 111 cm TL at an estimated age of 9-11 years, with weights of 420 and 380 grams. I expect that T. e. patzcuaroensis can reach a similar maximum length and size as T. e. scotti and T. e. obscurus.
Observations on T. e. patzcuaroensis in the wild.
I have only visited lake Zirahuén and the area around Tiripetio.
The area surrounding the lake is relatively unspoiled, with forests and limited human habitation.
One snake was observed swimming in the lake floating on the surface just like I have seen in T .e. scotti and T. e. obscurus.
As possible food items I have observed some frogs. And there are lots of fish inhabiting the deep lake.
The Lake Pátzcuaro Garter Snake does very well in captivity, just like the other subspecies of T. eques.
Due to its large size it is recommended to keep them in a terrarium with a minimum size (for one adult couple) of 100 x 50 x 50 cm, although a length of 150 cm would be more suitable. They do well in a dry and well ventilated cage with just a water bowl for swimming and drinking. The water bowl should at least be big enough for them to submerge in. Local temperatures in the terrarium should rise during daytime to 30 – 35 °C. T. e. patzcuaroensis are voracious feeders and relatively easy to keep.
The snakes show themselves a lot basking on a branch under the lamp. Especially when the terrarium is not so warm and the snakes need to bask on the hottest spot to reach their optimal body temperatures.
A true hibernation is not necessary. A cool period in the terrarium of 2 – 3 months mimics the natural situation and will probably be sufficient to keep the snakes in good health and to stimulate breeding. Up to now I hardly give the snakes a hibernation. But the snakes are clearly less active in the coldest winter months; they bask less and often refuse to eat for several months. So do not worry when this happens. During the winter months night temperatures in my snake room (and in the terrariums) drop at some nights as low as 8 – 12 °C (although 15 -17 °C is more normal).
I keep my adult snakes in a completely dry terrarium with a water bowl. This species is also very suitable for a so-called “aqua-terrarium” with a lot of water and only a small (completely dry!) land part which is heated by a powerful lamp to 30 – 35 °C. In such a habitat terrarium the highly aquatic snakes will show more of their natural behavior.
Unlike T. e. scotti and T. e. obscurus they have only reproduced once a year (so far) with babies typically born in July and August. Despite keeping them under similar circumstances as the scotti and obscurus.
My breeding group consist of (offspring of) 3 adult (unrelated) wild caught specimens.
I am breeding this subspecies since 2012.