Are Snakes Good for Gardens?

by woodlandpowerproducts
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When we talk about snakes in the garden, we’re most often talking about the coveted garter snake. Garter snakes—commonly called “gardener snakes” for reasons that will soon become clear—stand out as one of the garden’s most fascinating and beneficial residents.

Listen. We get it. Snakes are scary. They strike fear in the hearts of many. One might even say that they’re a notch or two above another scary garden resident: the spider. But garter snakes represent not only one of the premiere natural pest control methods but are also an indicator of a healthy garden ecosystem. Let’s take a look at what garter snakes are, what they do, and how they can benefit your garden.

Garter snakes can be found throughout North America, making them a common sight in many gardens in the US. They are medium-sized snakes, typically ranging from 1 to 4 feet in length, with slender bodies and distinctive patterns of stripes or spots. These patterns can vary in color, including shades of green, brown, black, and even red or orange.

If you take absolutely nothing else from this blog post, it should be this: garter snakes are completely harmless to humans. While they may startle you with their sudden appearance, garter snakes pose no threat. Although they technically do produce a very weak venom, it often has no effect on humans. It’s also important to remember that garter snakes have zero interest in attacking anything but their prey and will typically try to flee rather than confront potential threats.

But how do they benefit your garden?

Garter snakes have a diverse diet that includes insects, slugs, snails, worms, and even small rodents. (Fun fact: to eat larger creatures, like rodents, garter snakes will actually unhinge their jaw from their skull in order to make extra space!) By preying on these creatures, garter snakes help keep potentially harmful pest populations in check, which allows your garden to thrive.

The presence of garter snakes in your garden is also often a telltale sign of a thriving and balanced ecosystem. Their presence suggests that the habitat provides suitable shelter, food, and water sources for a variety of creatures. Garter snakes are considered an umbrella species—like whales and tigers—meaning that when they thrive, the surrounding plants and animals around them thrive too.

Garter snakes are remarkable allies in the garden. While their presence may initially be daunting, it’s important to remember that garter snakes are harmless and play a vital role in maintaining a healthy garden ecosystem. By controlling pests and promoting biodiversity, garter snakes represent key players in the intricate web of life within your garden.

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