August 17, 2016

Garter Snakes…Friend or Foe?

Author: Celeste Glassman


Garter Snakes May Be A Benefit To Our Gardens

Garter snakes, often referred to as garden snakes or gardener snakes, can be found in a wide variety of habitats which may include our own backyards. Garter snakes tend to prefer wet, grassy environments but are highly adaptable and can survive the ever-changing weather conditions we experience in Chicagoland. Some may refer to these creatures as pests, while others enjoy having them slither through their gardens. There are many benefits to sharing our neighborhood with these reptiles, but are there any dangers to us or our floofins?

Garter snakes love tall grass, rock beds, foliage and other areas they can seek cover. Usually spotted basking in the sun, these reptiles are cold-blooded and regulate their body temperature solely by their environment. Not only do they need to keep warm, the sun also aids in their digestion. Many people report significant benefits to having garter snakes in their yards; they are seemingly a natural pest control. Garter snakes feed on earthworms, snails, grasshoppers, ants, crickets, and occasionally, rodents. Many of the insects garter snakes feed on are the ones feasting in our gardens.

While it’s hard not to let out a squeal when you stumble upon one, garter snakes are more afraid of us than we are of them. Similar to the fight-or-flight response, a snake would rather slither away than bite. However, if they feel threatened, garter snakes can and will bite. Garter snake bites can cause minor swelling or itching and should be cleaned thoroughly. Most species, though, are considered harmless or nonvenomous. Of course, a small, quickly-moving creature always catches the attention of dogs and cats. If your floofin gets ahold of one they will probably drop it as quickly as they picked it up. Garter snakes secrete a foul-tasting and foul-smelling fluid from their postanal glands. Rinsing your floofin’s mouth out should be enough to get rid of the awful taste.

Not a fan of the snakes? Check out these tips from the Rose Pest Control blog to help eliminate them from your yard.

Overall, garter snakes are harmless when left alone and can offer benefits to your yard if the population is kept under control. Hopefully, you have a little more insight as to what that snake is doing the next time you see one in your yard.

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