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Are Garter Snakes Good to Have in Your Yard?

Garter snakes are widely distributed throughout North America and are commonly found in people’s gardens and yards. There are several species of Garter snakes, all of which are completely harmless to humans. If you have seen them in your yard, you might be wondering if garter snakes are good to have in your yard.

We’ll answer this question along with other garter snake questions below.

Are garter snakes good to have in your yard?

Short-headed garter snake
Short-headed garter snake | image by evangrimes via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0

Yes, garter snakes can actually be very beneficial to have in your yard. However, if you are terrified of snakes, you might disagree. If you are seeing them often in your yard, it’s a good sign that your yard is a great place for wildlife, rich with resources for all sorts of critters.

Why are garter snakes good to have around?

Garter snakes, like many other species of snake, eat pests like small rodents. They will also eat slugs, which are notorious for munching on plants in gardens. So having garter snakes will help control pest populations around your home.

We know that pests can carry diseases or parasites like ticks that are potentially harmful to humans. So by keeping pest populations at bay, garter snakes in an indirect way can help keep you and your family healthy.

Not only that but having garter snakes in your yard helps to support local biodiversity. Garter snakes play their own unique and important role in their ecosystems, and having them around helps to keep these ecosystems happy and healthy!

Should you remove garter snakes from your yard?

There is no reason to go out of your way to remove garter snakes from your yard. They are completely harmless! Snakes are afraid of humans, and while you might catch the occasional glimpse of one they will do their best to stay out of your way, meaning you probably won’t even notice they are there.

Can a garter snake hurt a dog?

Dog sniffing a garter snake
Dog sniffing a garter snake | image by Tony Alter via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

If your furry friend likes to spend time out in the yard, you might be concerned about them encountering a garter snake. Luckily, garter snakes are harmless to both humans and dogs.

A garter snake may bite if it is picked up by a dog, but their bites are nothing to be worried about and will hardly break skin if at all. More offensive than any bite is the foul-smelling musk they emit when threatened. 

Can garter snakes damage your house?

Garter snakes are completely harmless to your house, yard, and garden. Garter snakes are not the type to find their way into your home either, they much prefer finding safe places to hide in the yard. 

Why is a garter snake in my yard?

Garter snakes, like any other animal, are motivated by finding sources of food and shelter. If a garter snake is in your yard, there is a good chance that it is there because there are good places for it to seek shelter or there are food sources there like mice, frogs, or other small vertebrates and invertebrates.

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Does mowing keep snakes away?

Keeping your grass cut short is not a guaranteed way to keep animals like garter snakes away, but it might deter them. Garter snakes love thick, dense grasses as they provide a secure source of shelter for them.

So if you want to encourage garter snakes in your yard, consider letting your grass grow a bit longer than usual. Or maybe even consider not mowing parts of your yard at all.

How to attract garter snakes

buttler’s garter snake
Buttler’s garter snake | image by rpoort via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0

If you are sold on the benefits of having garter snakes in your yard, you might be wondering if there are things you can do to encourage them to visit your yard. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to hopefully increase their presence in your yard:

  • Provide Shelter and Hiding Places: Garter snakes seek shelter under rocks, logs, debris, and vegetation. Create suitable hiding spots by placing flat rocks or boards in various areas of your yard. These structures offer safe havens where garter snakes can rest, hide, and regulate their body temperature.
  • Water Sources: Like all animals, garter snakes need water. If your yard doesn’t have a natural water source, consider adding a shallow, wildlife-friendly water feature such as a birdbath or small pond. Ensure the water source is accessible and safe for the snakes.
  • Minimize Disturbances: Garter snakes are relatively shy creatures. Minimize loud noises, sudden movements, and disturbances in your yard to create a calm environment that encourages them to stick around.

How to prevent garter snakes in your yard

Red-sided garter snake
Red-sided garter snake | image by Greg Schechter via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

If you aren’t a fan of garter snakes and don’t want them in your yard, then you can pretty much do the reverse of all of the tips listed above: 

  • Remove potential shelter spots: Garter snakes need plenty of places to hide and take shelter to cool themselves down in the heat or keep them warm in the cold. Remove these potential shelter spots by removing debris, rocks, and dense vegetation in your yard.
  • Avoid standing water: Garter snakes need a water source, so if you have ponds or other standing water in your yard, consider covering them. Not to mention, water sources can also attract certain garter snake prey items like frogs, which in turn attracts garter snakes.
  • Create an uncomfortable environment: The presence of lots of people, pets, or livestock can deter garter snakes from wanting to make their way into your yard. 

Conclusion

To wrap things up, having garter snakes in your yard is actually a good thing and if you are noticing them in your yard then you’re in luck! They are great for pest management and supporting a healthy ecosystem.

Not to mention, they are amazing animals in their own right, and seeing one really is a treat. There’s no need to be worried about them in your yard either, as they are completely harmless to people, pets, and property.

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