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What Do Garden Snakes Eat? Are Garden Snakes Friend or Foe?

I have a thing for snakes. I’m not scared of them and when I see one I run to step on its tail to pick it up and talk to him. I love to roll over a bale and count how many garter snakes I’ll find. And I find them in my garden quite often. And I’ve wondered, what DO garden snakes eat? What tasty meal are they partaking on in my little garden?

I do have a healthy fear of snakes though. In my particular area, we will only find garter snakes. But immediately outside of our area, we will find rattlesnakes and those snakes? They deserve a healthy fear. I am so thankful that we don’t have to worry and listen for that rattle everywhere we go on our property. 

So, my garden snakes and I have a healthy agreement that they can stay in my garden if they do the work I need them to. But first…

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Garter snakes are harmless snakes and will not harm you but what do garter snakes eat?


What is a garden snake?

The garden snake is a reptile that can live and adapt to a wide variety of areas with many different climates and habitats. It can live in the coldest of cold climates to the very warmest of warm. They belong to the genus Thamnophis which is very widely spread throughout the continent of North America.

The common garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis, is the state reptile of Massachusetts.

What do garden snakes look like?

Generally, the garden snake will be either a plain or checkered green or brown with stripes. They usually are 2-3 feet in length when they are fully grown.  

Other names for garden snakes

The garden snake is also called the garter snake which is actually more technically correct to say.

Garter snakes are carnivores, this is what they eat.

What do Garden Snakes Eat?

These very adaptive creatures will eat what their habitat provides for them. All snakes are carnivorous so they eat live things! Whatever is around them! And they swallow whatever they eat whole. They will hunt when the temperatures are warmest in the day. 

But in the winter months, garter snakes will hibernate usually in a den with a large group of snakes found together. 

What do garden snakes eat on dry land?

If you live in a dry land area, your garter snakes will eat earthworms, lizards, birds, snails, slugs, and rodents, especially mice. If it’s alive and they can overpower it, they will eat it. 

This is what a garter snake looks like but what do garter snakes eat?

What do garden snakes eat near water?

If you live near water, a garter snake will change and adapt what they eat by eating fish, leeches, and tadpoles. They can also eat toads, frogs, and salamanders. And interestingly, a garter snake is immune to the toxic secretions that a toad emits which repels most other preditors of the toad. 

What to feed pet garden snakes

If you own a pet garter snake then they can be feed like one would eat in their natural environment. If you found a snake near water then you can feed them leeches and if you found them in a dry area, then they can be fed slugs. You can also find and feed earthworms and if you feed them fish, feed it fresh and whole. 

Garter snakes in your garden?

So if you’re scared of snakes, but are having a problem with rodents and pests in your garden, it might be wise to let those slithering friends stay and cruise your garden for a meal. They are harmless snakes and will slither away if you come across one. 

If you have slugs in your garden, then you will want to check out how to get rid of them: Get Rid of Slugs

If you are a garden lover you will want to get your garden started soon: 15 Cool Loving Plants to Plant in Early Spring, 11 Fast Growing Vegetables, and Prepare Your Garden Right 

What do garden snakes eat and are they helpful to the garden? Find out here.

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Marilyn Conway

Thursday 1st of July 2021

After reviewing several websites I still haven't found a picture of the snake that showed up under my deck yesterday. It was about 20-30" long, and dark brown with darker brown stripes. How to I get rid of them?