Our female red-sided garter has died

Remember the female Red-sided Garter Snake that gave us such a scare last October? We found her dead in her cage this afternoon, after we came back from a walk. No idea how it happened. This is a little on the premature side: she would have been eight years old in June.

We’re fond of our snakes, but she was a little bit special. She was the last female in our possession from that 2002 litter of 42 produced by Big Momma (died 2002) and Piss-Boy (died 2008). She was a stunner, the spitting image of her mother; unfortunately I don’t have any good pictures of her. (She shared a cage with our female blue-striped garter, and they made a pretty pair.) Like her father, she was extremely alert, gregarious and inquisitive; like her mother, she was extremely tame; she was probably the tamest garter snake in our collection — and that’s saying something. (Her two brothers — the last of that litter in our care — are merely voracious: they don’t mean you any harm, they’re just trying to eat you.)

When it comes to snakes in our collection dying on us, it’s never the ones we expect. There are at least four garter snakes in our care that I would have predicted to die before her: Extrovert, the female wandering garter, is 11 years old this year; Monster, the male flame garter, will be 10; the Butler’s garter, who I believe holds the captive longevity record, will also be 10 — and George, the broken plains garter, is still not dead.