Not a lot, but they do eat, and they tend to prefer food that is "raw and wiggling" rather than not.
Since it's still too cool yet for a great selection of insects to be roaming the garden, we decided we'd better pick up something. Feeder goldfish are cheap--about 12 cents each for small ones--and garters, being snakes who spend much of their life near water, hunt, among other things, small fish.
So the goldfish games began.
We put a shallow dish into the snake tank, filled it with water and put the cute little goldfish in. The snakes came, they saw, they pretty much ignored the fish, while the fish spent their time repeatedly jumping out of the water onto the sand of the cage floor. So we'd pick them up and put them back while the snakes looked on.
Eventually, after one fish (we called him "Popcorn") had been put back into the dish for the dozenth time, one snake took the big leap and snatched a fish. We waited, fascinated, for him to start the 'big swallow,' but he acted as if he didn't exactly know what to do with the thing. He took it out onto the sand and dropped it, then slithered off to a faraway corner.
After a while we got bored waiting, the snakes seemed bored with us watching them, and we went on with our day. Bedtime came, still three fish in the dish. In the morning, "Popcorn" had committed suicide by, once again, leaping to his death onto the sand, and the other two fish were nowhere to be seen, unless you looked very carefully for the small bulge in the middriff of the largest of the three snakes.
This week we bought fresh fish--a week's supply of six--and put three in the dish. Big snake (their names are Porthos, Athos, and Aramis), Athos, promptly consumed his share AND Porthos'. Aramis took a fish down. Poor Porthos had none!
Attempt two--isolate Porthos and show him a fish. He performed beautifully, but the fish was too big for him. Did you know snakes can vomit? Twice?
The fish, slightly confused and covered with snake saliva, survived the ordeal. But Porthos was still hungry.
Attempt three--the old standby, hamburger. But, like I said, snakes tend to like to eat living things--especially snakes that are caught wild. So my daughter did a very good puppet-burger impression by wiggling the meat in front of Porthos' nose.
Snake FED!!! Goldfish still lives! For now.