Should You Remove a Garter Snake?

Should You Remove a Garter Snake?

You may call these guys garden snakes, but whatever you call them, they can certainly be jarring. You’re playing in the yard with kids, walking the dog, or doing some yard work, and you spot the thing slither by you – you’re probably a little shaken up! The good news is that garter snakes are not poisonous, but how do you know how to determine if it’s a garter snake or something poisonous, and how do you ensure you and your family stay safe? 

First off, we want to reiterate the most important thing: garter snakes are not poisonous. In fact, they can be a natural form of pest control, as they feed on small rodents such as mice and moles. If you’re having a rodent problem, they can be of some help for you! While they’re relatively harmless, they do have some small teeth and can bite. We’re not talking about fangs, but still some tiny teeth that can give you a nasty bite that could become infected if not cared for properly. 

How to identify a garter snake

Garter snakes are slim with stripes down their entire bodies. These stripes can come in all different colors, such as red, gray, orange, yello, and green. Their underbellies are lighter in color. 

They’re usually between 15-35 inches long, but some can even grow to be more than 5 feet long! 

Garter snakes’ tongues are two colors: red with a black tip. 

You’ll likely see them during the day in the spring and summer, especially if it’s sunny outside. 

Potential problems with garter snakes

Like we said above, while they’re relatively harmless, they can bite. So you don’t want to get too close to its mouth and certainly want to teach small children to stay away from them, even if they’re not poisonous. 

Garter snakes also give off a very distinct smell that give them the award of one of the smelliest snakes around. Yuck! 

Because they can be rather small and slender, they can sometimes make their way into homes. 

How they can help

Garter snakes get the nickname “garden snakes” because they can help eliminate pests that feed on your garden, like snails, slugs, and bugs. 

However, we do understand that they can be frightening and can pose threats to our children and pets, so if you’re worried about any potential risks, it’s not a bad idea to remove them – just make sure you do it safely!

How to remove a garter snake without killing it

Because garter snakes can be helpful in our environment, we don’t recommend killing them if you spot them in your yard. Here are some ways to safely remove them without killing:

  • Trim your bushes – without overgrown bushes, they’ll have nowhere to hide
  • Mow your lawn for the same reason
  • Keep your lawn clear of debris to give them fewer spots to hide in as well
  • Remove food sources 
  • Trap and relocate snakes to wooded areas
  • Build a snake fence around problem areas or areas where children spend the most time
  • Call us! We’d be happy to help you out with a snake problem. You can contact us here.