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  1. #1
    BPnet Veteran aSnakeLovinBabe's Avatar
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    DIY: Homemade Garter Diet

    I decided to go ahead and tackle the home made garter food idea that Alan Francais pioneered involving fish, vitamin powder, and gelatin! I am proud to announce that even though I pretty much winged it, it was a total success! He never really gave exact directions on how to make it.... so I pretty much had to guess on what to do! I made two batches, and tried a different water method for each. Surprisingly, knox gelatin does not give instructions on how to prepare just straight gelatin!!! Only how to make fruit jello. How annoying! So I was kind of in the dark and searches online gave me totally conflicting methods. Most said do not boil the gelatin. So I did not. The first batch, I added the gelatin directly to VERY warm water and poured it into the mixer with the fish. The gelatin was instantly congealing in the hot water and I was concerned I had ruined it, but in the end it turned out OKAY. The second batch, I sprinkled the gelatin packets directly into the mixer onto the fish, blended it a bit, THEN added some warm water. That method produced a more consistent texture. So for my directions, I will be using that mehod.

    Along the way, I took some photos of the process. First, the necessities:
    I had:

    -1 lb of raw Salmon (i took the skin off because it will get stuck, but don't -waste that skin!! cut it up and feed the scraps to the snakes!)
    -1 lb of raw Tilapia
    -Reptocal - a calcium supplement with other vitamins including thiamine
    -Reptivite - a vitamin powder which also includes thiamine
    -4 packets of knox gelatin, 2 for each pound of mixture
    -Stainless Steel Scissors - much easier to chunk the fish with these than a knife
    - A Smoothie Making Machine that you no longer want to use for making smoothies....



    I started by taking the scissors and wearing rubber gloves (I hate having messy hands of all things!) I chunked the salmon and tilapia into containers.



    I then took out half of each container and mixed them into the opposite containers, so that each container holds half salmon, half tilapia. Following that, I took a teaspoon and added to each container 1 leveled teaspoon of Reptocal, and 1 leveled teaspoon of Reptivite. Each container is holding 1 pound of fish.


    I then began to run the faucet on hot while I dumped one container of fish and vitamins into the smoothie maker. I took two packets of knox gelatin and dumped them into the mixer on top of the fish. I took a spoon and mixed it around a little. Once the water from the faucet was at its hottest, I added 2/3 of a cup to the mixture and quickly turned it on. It minced up very quickly but was just a tad too thick, so as I was mixing it I would have to turn it off and stir it up with a spoon and adding tiny bits of water at a time until the mixer would consistently run without stopping up. At this point, the mixture was about the consistency of cooked oatmeal and was pourable, but just barely. The reason for adding water little bits at a time is because you idealy want the fish concentration to the gelatin to be as high as possible, because the garters will not get anything out of the water content, except... well, water!! As soon as it was a consistent smooth texture, I turned off the mixer. It looked like bright pink mashed potatoes! I then quickly poured/spooned it into small ziploc freezer bags, squeezed out the air, and stacked them perfectly flat into the refridgerator. The thickness of each was about 1/2 an inch. I left them there overnight, and when I came home this morning, I found perfectly formed Salmon/Tilapia Jello Shooters! I carefully allowed the Salmon Jello pancakes to slide out onto some waxpaper where I took a knife and sliced them horizontally, and then diagonally to create tapered edges that are easier for garters to start eating, much like the head of something is.


    I then portioned all of these chunks into freezer bags so that I can thaw one out at a time and feed all that day. Each of these baggies is probably a tad over 1/4 lb. in weight. This will feed my garter and water snakes for a month (I have so many! haha) or a bit longer really because I will alternate it every so often with some night crawlers or pinkies. This however, could be fed as a staple diet because it is vitamin/calcium enriched. This cost me about $15 to make.


    I decided to let Marcy, my female Checkered Garter be the taste tester. I had the boyfriend bring her out still in her favorite hidey and offered it to her. She wholeheartedly approves and had two pieces! I find the nice thing about it is that it's so easy for them to swallow, even if the piece is slightly too wide, anything that does not fit into their mouth simply peels away without them having to struggle! So as my departing picture, here is Marcy modeling (ingesting, rather) the completed product! I am very pleased with this mixture and I WILL be using this from now on! I hope you all enjoyed and I strongly encourage everyone to give it a try!


    Just as an after note, I now regularly use this diet with my collection and it is readily accepted by all of my garter and water snakes, including the picker ones!

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  3. #2
    Steel Magnolia rabernet's Avatar
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    Re: DIY: Homemade Garter Diet

    Excellent! Thank you for your time to put this together for us!

  4. #3
    BPnet Lifer mainbutter's Avatar
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    Re: DIY: Homemade Garter Diet

    that's so cool

    Of course I'd have a hard time prying salmon out of my own hands to feed to my pets. Then again I've still got a number of fillets of wild-caught reds and silvers(by me) from visiting the parents in alaska last summer.

    Think garters can tell the difference between wild-caught alaskan salmon and farm-raised?

  5. #4
    BPnet Veteran aSnakeLovinBabe's Avatar
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    Re: DIY: Homemade Garter Diet

    Quote Originally Posted by mainbutter View Post
    that's so cool

    Of course I'd have a hard time prying salmon out of my own hands to feed to my pets. Then again I've still got a number of fillets of wild-caught reds and silvers(by me) from visiting the parents in alaska last summer.

    Think garters can tell the difference between wild-caught alaskan salmon and farm-raised?
    I can usually tell, and if I can tell, they probably can too, but then again most garters are not picky and do not really care as long as its FOOD!!! I know that they know the difference between salmon and trout but they eat both. I actually prefer to use wild caught alaskan salmon over farm raised because a lot of the farm raised stuff you find in the grocery store has dye in it to make it look pinker. It is not known to affect the garters other than making their poops salmon colored at times, but I avoid it if I can. I have used both WC salmon and farm raised with ease.

    I wonder if the gelatin will make their scales tougher?!

  6. #5
    BPnet Veteran Lucas339's Avatar
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    Re: DIY: Homemade Garter Diet

    i used to feed my urchins at school a similar diet. we used fish meal and not actual fish. i would just put the gelatin and the fish meal together under heat, mix it up for a bit and then place it in the frig. the fish meal we used was high grade stuff. might be cheaper in the long run.

  7. #6
    BPnet Veteran icygirl's Avatar
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    Re: DIY: Homemade Garter Diet

    Quote Originally Posted by aSnakeLovinBabe View Post
    Ahh... this picture gave me a wave of nostalgia of working at the wildlife center and preparing meals for our patients. The vet there painstakingly put together a "recipe book" for each kind of animal we would normally get in, so that everybody got the proper nutrition. I can tell you have worked really hard to make sure this is healthy for your garters. Kudos to you, and thank you for sharing it with the community here.

  8. #7
    BPnet Veteran Raptor's Avatar
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    Re: DIY: Homemade Garter Diet

    Would the set gelatin dissolve in cool/room temp water?

  9. #8
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    Re: DIY: Homemade Garter Diet

    I have found a lot of useful information from this particular place. I am having a great time around here. Keep up doing the good work.
    Jack Daniel

  10. #9
    BPnet Veteran Highline Reptiles South's Avatar
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    man i wish i had read this 5 years ago

  11. #10
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    Re: DIY: Homemade Garter Diet

    i am feeling hunger after watching this hehehe

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