Thamnophis eques insperatus (Conant, 2003); Lake Zacapu Garter Snake
Length and size of Thamnophis eques insperatus
T.eques is a very large and heavily built gartersnake and Conant (2003) had set the new record for T.eques (obscurus) at 121,6 cm total length. Personally I have observed a Thamnophis eques insperatus of 122,8 cm total length (Bol,2012). Especially female Thamnophis eques can grow very large and heavy. In fact adult female T.eques are the largest gartersnakes 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 (scotti) is now set at 130,7 cm (Bol & Bruchmann, 2012).
The Lake Zacapu Gartersnake does very well in captivity. 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 be big enough for them to submerge in. Local temperatures in the terrarium should rise to 30 – 35 °C. T.e.insperatus 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 hibernation will not be absolutely necessary although it is expected that they will have a resting period in nature when they are less active. A cool period in the terrarium of 2 – 3 months 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 night to 8 – 12 °C.
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 lots 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. The young are usually born in my terrariums in June, July or August.
My recent article about Thamnophis eques scotti (Bol & Bruchmann, 2012) that can be found online in english on this website can serve as a standard recommendation (care sheet) also for this subspecies of the Mexican Garter Snake.