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Garter Snakes

Summary: Having a couple of garter snakes in your garden is good. Garter snakes eat lots of insects and unwanted rodents and they keep pretty much to themselves. But, if you have a phobia about things that slither, then you'd better read on.

Snake repellents like Dr. T's Snake A-Way Repellent can be effective if you put down enough product and repeat often. A surer way to remove snakes from an area is to capture them on Snake Guard glue boards. You can release the snake from the glue board by pouring vegetable oil on the snake.

Garter snakes are our most common garden snake found abundantly from Canada to Central America. To have a garter snake or two in the garden is good. These non-poisonous snakes eat pest insects, mosquito larvae, slugs, snails, crickets, rats, mice, voles and even other snakes which may be poisonous. But, if snakes freak you out and you can't walk in the lawn knowing snakes are present, then here are some steps you need to take.

First, mow your lawn often and don't allow grass to grow up along the sides of your house or other structures. Snakes seek cover for protection and tall grasses provide the perfect hiding place.  Now, look around your property and


start eliminating other snake hiding places.

That perfectly stacked wood pile needs to be away from the house and sitting on some type of stand. It cannot be sitting directly on the ground.  And, how about those beautiful piles of decorative rocks you worked so hard on? Yep! Those are a great den for snakes. How much did you say you hate snakes? If you're registering a “10” on the “I hate snakes” scale, the rocks have go to go. Trim bushes so low lying branches are removed. Remember, snakes love the security of those bushes. Piles of leaves and any other debris need to be removed, too.  I never said this would be easy.

Now, let's talk about things that snakes eat. You will need to pay special attention to making sure you are not attracting food that snakes like. Things like rodents and insects need to be controlled around your house. Make sure you are not attracting rodents. Keep trash in good-sealing trash containers. Seal or screen places where mice or squirrels can hide like under porches and in garages. You'll also have to consider treating around your foundation with an insecticide or other insect repellent. Snakes also like to eat crickets, grasshoppers and other insects that tend to migrate toward the cool, moist perimeter foundations of houses. Keep the snake food out of your garden and you won't have snakes.

That's a lot of work to keep your snake phobia in check, but it's what needs to be done. I can assure you that snake repellents will not give you total control. Only the elimination of shelter and food will make snakes find new homes.

Ask Rick A Question


09 Jul 2012, 16:52
There is a garter snake inhabiting a hole in my back yard. My dog keeps trying to dig it out so I put a large heavy rock in the hole and rocks around the larger rock. Will the garter snake be able to get out and if it does will it attempt to return to the hole?
18 Aug 2012, 12:25
i saw 5 or 6 3 foot long garters run outa my garden and into a nearby wood pile when i ran the other way lol, i noticed a few more go into the wood pile does this mean there is a nest in the wood pile?
28 Aug 2012, 13:00
We have a year round fish pond with waterfall. we have fish and frogs and lily pads, etc. I have purchased 6 doz fish this year and we have 13 remaining. The garter snakes are eating my fish and baby frogs. We have removed all the plants around the pond and thinned out our perennial beds. there is a brook running behind our house. If it weren't for the pond, I wouldn't mind the snakes. Is there such a thing as a pond cover? or anything else I can purchase. I would prefer not to get a cat.
28 Aug 2013, 23:03
we have had three snakes in our house two things how do they get in and do common garter snakes climb. where is the best to locate how they are getting in.
Paul L
22 May 2014, 11:14
We hate snakes ,after being in the desert and jungle,having yo be around poisonous snakes
I will poison ,them cutem in two or roast them.
Do I have a phobia ,you bet your ass my friend died from a puss atter,and monocle cobra.
No more mister nice guy,anythjng that crawls dies,with -0 exceptions !!
Anne Thompson
04 Jun 2014, 04:45
I'm with Dorothy. First off, why the heck would you build your house where you know snakes live, breed and hibernate, the hibernaculum?? I don't understand why we think we have the right to build our home on any pretty spot we choose and exterminate all living creatures that bother us that were living there first.

If we don't learn to live in harmony with all the beautiful creatures in our world, we will eventually kill ourselves off with the imbalances we create.

Paul, I'm very sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. I can understand your difficulty having compassion for snakes. Snakes are, however, an important part of our ecosystem and some have poison to protect themselves. I hope you can reconsider your position on all crawling things and are able to grieve your friend without taking it out on all crawling critters. I wish you the best with your healing.
19 Dec 2014, 10:22
I don't mind garter snakes in the garden, however within the last couple of months, we have found 2 babies in our basement. Please tell me how they could be getting in and how to stop them. I find myself getting nervous about going downstairs to clean cat boxes or do the laundry. Help!
19 Dec 2014, 11:03
Yeah, I wouldn't like that either! Have you looked for holes around the perimeter of your house? I think even a 1/4 inch space is enough for them to get in.
15 Apr 2015, 10:56
My house is old dirt floor basement with many open areas. Full of garter snakes and bull snakes. To block all entries is a impossible answer. Is there a bomb of some sort that will repell them to outside places without harming them. Help!!
Thaddeus Buttmunch
15 Apr 2015, 14:46
I just found a Dead Baby Snake near a laundry pile in the basement-all mummified. We also have cracks in the garage floor and I saw a Garter snake last fall slither into the crack-probably as a hibernation crib for the winter. It was near the garbage cans.
27 May 2015, 18:57
We live in an old (over 100 years) farmhouse in the country in Michigan. It has Additions all the way around the main room that was the original house. When we bought it, about 20 years ago, the yard was all overgrown. We never realized how many snakes there were until we started mowing. And we didn't think they'd stay so close around the house even after we mowed. We always have at least 20-30 mousetraps set in the house and pole building year round and catch 1-2 voles almost every week. More as the weather gets colder. Our basement is an updated Michigan basement. There is concrete on the floor and the walls are part stone & part concrete. We had some of the cement between the stones redone to try and seal out critters. I have tried sprinkling and spraying all sorts of repellants starting at the house and working the way out into the yard to try to keep critters & snakes away but it doesn't seem to work. I read that snakes don't like the smell of cinnamon so I keep cinnamon sticks and room spray in the basement. Also, have used vinegar. We have to be careful what we use because of our pets. I keep a large plastic container, broom, etc., in the basement to get snakes into if I find them down there. I found a live baby garter snake in a mouse trap in the basement once! I felt sorry for it but it lunged at me when I tried to undo the trap so I put it in the trash can and sprayed starting fluid in and put the lid on it. That's what we've been doing lately when we find a snake someplace we don't want them. Mostly, we have garters but have seen milk snakes and a baby blue racer years ago. We think they have a nest under the front porch addition. We thought maybe the cats were using the living room carpet instead of the litter box so we pulled it up and found no stains. Then, we decided the smell was coming from deeper under the floor. There is a stone foundation and we really don't want to tear apart. I feel bad killing them but what else can we do? We find them under the door mats, curled up on the patio, and stretched across the walkway at the bottom of the porch steps. There are hundreds of acres of farmland and barns and other out buildings out here. They could be anyplace else besides around our house. I will look into the sticky boards. Is there someplace that wants excess snakes if we get a set of tongs and start really going after them? Any other recommendations?
20 Jun 2015, 12:57
I live in North-Eastern state in new england. Couple of years back I use to see 1 Garter snake in our yard. Last year there were few of them and started coming into my home. I used home defense and they staying outside in the yard. During winter when it is sunny, I use to see them on the arborvitae bush in my yard enjoying the sun. Later during spring I found out that the place where they use to sit on bush completely dried. Sometimes I also find them on my Japanese Maple tree and couple of branches dried on that as well. My worry is that I have a small dog and he use to burry his bone under arborvitae bush and last fall I see some burn spots on his body as if someone as sprayed acid or something on him, which I had never seen before. When I took him to vet, they said it could be an allergy and put him on meds but I do not see hair growth on the burned area. I am not sure if it is my illusion or fact that these snakes secrete some kind of acid, which burns thing. Is my thinking weird?
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