Are Garter Snakes Poisonous & Should You Remove Them?

Commonly known as garden snakes, garter snakes can be certainly unsettling. Suppose you’re doing some plant care, walking with your pet, or playing with your little one in the garden and suddenly you spot it slither by you. The first thing that’ll happen to you is a shiver down your spine!

Garter snakes are not poisonous, first and foremost. However, recognizing them when they crawl by you may be difficult. As a result, you must be wondering if removing a garter snake from your garden is necessary to protect your family.

We’re going to help you understand everything about these slithering creatures so that the next time you see one, you can remain calm and know what to do.

Garter snakes come in different sizes, but they are typically between two and five feet long. Males are usually larger than females. Some species of garter snakes can grow up to six feet in length. In this article, we’re going to explore these snakes in detail so you know what to look for when you next spot them:

garter snake infestation

Table of Contents

How to Identify Garter Snakes?

Garter snakes usually have stripes down their slim bodies. The stripes can be of various colors such as yellow, green, orange, and red. Though the upper body of these snakes have deep colors, the underbellies have lighter shades.

The length of garter snakes varies between 15 to 35 inches. However, some garter snakes can be as long as 5 to 6 feet. You can also identify these snakes by their tongues that have red color whereas the tip is pitch black.

The seasons when you can spot most garter snakes are summer or spring during the day. They love to roam in gardens on sunny afternoons. Now that you know that garter snakes aren’t poisonous and you can identify them easily, you must be wondering what problems they cause, right?

garter snake identification

What Problems Do Garter Snakes Cause?

Though these snakes are relatively harmless, they do have tiny teeth and they can bite. If you get too close to a garter snake’s mouth, a nasty bite can make it the worst experience. If you don’t properly care for the area after getting bitten, the area could get infected and cause further issues.

For this reason, you need to teach your child and every small member of your family to stay away from these snakes. Another problem with garter snakes is the distinct, awful smell that they give off. They’re one of the smelliest species of snakes in the USA.

Garter snakes can easily make their way into gardens and homes because of their small size. Though they won’t cause any severe harm to your family, the above aspects are enough for you to remove them from your surroundings. However, if you want to know what good they cause, here’s the answer.

garter snakes dangerous

Can Garter Snakes Help?

Yes, since we’ve already mentioned that garden snakes are the nicknames of these snakes, it does a considerable amount of good to the gardens. They usually feed on small insects like bugs, snails, and slugs that are harmful to the garden. To eliminate pests and insects from the garden, garter snakes can play a significant role.

Irrespective of the above advantage, these snakes can be threatening if you have small kids and pets. For the potential risk of biting, if you’re worried about garter snakes, it’s better to remove them. But you need to be very careful while doing that and you should also be ready with every precaution.

So, what are the correct methods of removing garter snakes from your garden? Let’s quickly find out!

natural pest control

How to Remove a Garter Snake?

Killing garter snakes is never recommended because they don’t do any significant harm and rather help the environment. You can follow the tips below to remove them from your garden and keep them at bay.

  • Bush Trimming: It’s a fantastic method to keep your garden clean and remove these snakes from your garden. If the bushes aren’t overgrown, garter snakes can no longer be able to find a shelter to live or hide in. However, if your garden already has a garter snake, be careful while trimming the bushes.
  • Lawn Mowing: It’s another method for the same purpose. If the lawn is clean and the grasses are narrow, there’ll be no place for the animal to mark its territory. But, be very careful while mowing the lawn because you wouldn’t want to kill the animal either.
  • Removing Food Sources: It’s essential to remove all the food sources for these snakes if you want to get rid of them from your garden. Cleaning all garden pests can help you do that.
  • Cleaning Debris: Cleaning debris doesn’t only lead to a clean, fresh garden but also a safer one. Once the debris is cleaned, these snakes will get fewer spots to survive.
  • Trapping and Relocating: Another effective way to make your garden garter snake free is to trap them and relocate them to another place such as forests or wooded areas. But, be very careful while trapping them or you can consider taking the help of an expert in this act.
  • Snake Fencing: You can also try building a snake fence at or around problem areas in your garden. By problem areas, we mean those areas where your children and pets play and get vulnerable.
  • Using Organic Snake Repellents: Instead of using chemical snake repellents, you can switch to organic repellents that can eliminate the chances of garter snakes entering and living in your garden. While choosing the repellent, make sure it’s labeled as natural or organic and it’s lab tested.
  • Farming Chicken: If you start farming chicken, it’ll reduce the chances of garter snakes living in the garden. That’s because garter snakes usually fear chicken. After all, they’re often hunted and killed by them as a food source. This method is the least applicable as there’s a chance of harming or killing garter snakes.

Above are some effective tips on removing a garter snake from your garden. Since garter snakes aren’t poisonous like other snakes and do some amount of help to your garden, keeping or removing them is completely your choice depending upon other factors such as kid’s and pet’s safety.

If you can welcome them and make them a shelter, they can benefit your garden by protecting it from harmful pests and chemicals. On the other hand, if you have children or pets at home, getting rid of garter snakes will be a better idea.

lawn mowing prevents garter snakes

People Also Ask

Are garter snakes good to have around?

Garter snakes are a gardener’s best friend! They consume every insect that causes damage in your garden, even if they are not harmful to humans. Learn about the peaceful but useful gardening helper who just wants to live in peace with you and consume your slugs!

Why is it called a garter snake?

Garter snakes are found in over 30 species, with many sub-species. Because they can survive in a wide range of settings because to their adaptability and temperature tolerance, they may be found in a variety of locations. Some believe that the name comes from the fact that their stripes resemble “garters” men wore to hold up their socks.

garter snakes can survive in a number of temperatures

Do garter snakes eat spiders?

Garter snakes will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouths, including spiders! While most spiders are not harmful to humans, some can be poisonous if they bite you. If you have a garter snake around, you don’t have to worry about these poisonous bites.

What do baby garter snakes eat?

Baby garter snakes eat the same things as their adult counterparts: insects, slugs, worms, and other small creatures. You may find them in your garden, where they will consume any pests that are damaging your plants. If you have a garter snake in your garden, consider yourself lucky!

garter snakes feed

Are garter snakes protected?

There are no federal laws protecting garter snakes, but some states have listed them as protected species. In Minnesota, for example, it is illegal to collect or possess any native reptile or amphibian without a permit. This includes garter snakes.

Do garter snakes like being handled?

Garter snakes aren’t particularly fond of being held for extended periods, but they will let you keep them for short durations after they’ve settled in.

venomous snakes

Will garter snakes bite?

While they are not poisonous, they can bite. As a result, you don’t want to come too close to its mouth or encourage youngsters to interact with it, even if it isn’t deadly.

Do garter snakes bite dogs?

Garter snakes can bite dogs if they feel threatened. While the bites are not poisonous, they can cause infection if not treated properly. If you see your dog playing with a garter snake, it’s best to intervene and remove the snake from the area.

snake species

Do garter snakes eat mice?

Garter snakes will consume just about anything they can fit into their mouths, including mice!

Can garter snakes climb walls?

Garter snakes are common in the United States, where they’re regarded as terrestrial and subterranean creatures. They can climb if necessary, however.

climbing garter snake

What eats a garter snake?

There are a number of predators that will eat garter snakes, including other snakes, birds of prey, and mammals such as foxes and raccoons. If you see a garter snake in your yard, it’s best to leave it.

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