Finding a snake in your yard can be very frightening to many people, but in the main, it’s unlikely going to be an aggressive species that is venomous. Snakes are good for the environment, as they play an important part in the food chain. But what about when they are closer to home… are snakes good or bad for a yard or garden?
I believe it’s good to have snakes in your garden, and not bad to have snakes in your yard at all. It’s a sign that you have a healthy ecosystem in your backyard, as snakes can help to control critters and other insects and animals that might cause issues for you and your plants.
Here are all the reasons in detail as to why I don’t believe snakes are bad for gardens and can actually be a very good thing… depending on the snake species of course!
Reasons why snakes are good for garden and yards
It’s understandable for people to baulk and panic at the signs of snakes in their yard. After all, some are poisonous and could be a risk to your pets and children. Honestly though, it’s a small risk and here why I think you welcome the idea of “some” snakes in your garden.
1. Snakes will help control pests in your yard
Most garden snakes will be garter snakes or other non-venomous snakes that can be good for gardens. They will eat lots of unwanted insects that otherwise might go to town on your vegetable patch.
There are also Texas Rat snakes which do exactly as the name suggests: they will eat rodents, squirrels, and even other venomous snakes.
2. Snakes don’t dig holes
Snakes are often blamed for digging holes in yards on lawns and dirt patches, but it’s not the snakes doing it. For example, here’s all you need to know about Copperheads and yard holes, it’s not them digging, but other critters.
I repeat, it’s not snakes. They are incapable of digging through compacted earth you have in backyards and gardens.
But snakes will find the holes of other animals and live in them, which is why many people are mistaken about the snakes making them.
In fact, a snake might go down a hole in your and kill the vermin or critters making the holes in the first place, which is an absolute win for a gardener.
3. Snakes don’t harm plants
You won’t find snakes chewing plants in your yard. And the presence of a snake will not damage plants in your garden either, and if anything, they will scare off or eat insects and other animals that will be bad for your plants.
Snakes also keep a wide berth away from humans and won’t bite unless you pick them up or accidentally tread on one.
4. Snakes are good for the ecosystem
When you read some of the opinions on the Save the Snakes website, it’s hard to think that snake are bad to have in your yard. Here’s what they say:
“Snakes play an integral role in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. In most systems, snakes can be both predator and prey. When a large prey population attracts and sustains a large snake population, those snakes become prey for birds, mammals and even other snakes!”
If you really don’t want snakes in your backyard or garden, there are some humane ways you can get rid of them. For example, Snake B Gone on Amazon works wonders and will repel most species.
But some snakes are bad for your yard or garden
There are some snakes that are bad for your yard, namely the dangerous ones such as venomous species including copperheads, diamondbacks, rattlesnakes, and water moccasins. These snakes are the ones that can be bad for a garden, so you should take steps to repel them.
Depending on where in the United States you live, snakes can be good or bad, depending again on which snake it is.
Almost all the time though, the snakes you will find in garden or backyard will be more scared of you and will do their utmost to avoid any confrontation with human or pet.
Is it bad to have garter snakes in your yard?
One of the more common snakes found in backyards is the garter snake. Given how ubiquitous they are, I wanted to address this species as an individual.
Firstly, I think it’s great when you have garter snakes in your yard. Whilst they might send a shiver up your spine, please take a deep breath, and appreciate them for what they are.
They are often referred to as the gardener’s friend, and some people even think their proper name is the gardener snake… and with good reason on both counts.
The bottom line is that it’s not a bad thing to have garter snakes in your garden or yard. As a keen gardener they can help you by eating slugs, grasshoppers, grubs, and other insects that might otherwise harm your plants.
But it’s not all good news.
Garter snakes can be bad for gardens and yards if you have a pond. They will prey on frogs and toads and will also eat earthworms that will contribute to your backyard’s ecosystem.
Don’t pick up any snake in your yard
Unless you are 100% confident in what snake it is you have found in your backyard, don’t pick it up. Whilst garter snakes are harmless, they will bite if you surprise them by picking them up.
But unless you are snake expert, you have no guarantee that what you are seeing in your yard is a garter snake. There are venomous species that can give you a very nasty bite, or even kill with their venom.
As a very rough guide to snake identification, the nasty ones you don’t want to touch tend to have thicker bodies, narrower necks, and wide, and triangle shaped heads. Non-venomous snake species are normally skinny with heads no bigger than the rest of the body.
How to encourage snakes in your yard
If you have considered the benefits of snakes being good or bad for your yard, and have gone for the “good” option, then there are ways in which you can encourage them to stick around and help you with pest control.
Snakes like water, warmth, food, and hiding places.
You won’t need to feed them. They are already in your yard because it’s a constant food source. However, if you now think snakes are good for your garden, you can do things to make them stick around.
This can include putting wood piles in a corner, having a pond that attracts frogs, toads, newts, and insects for snakes to prey upon, letting some grass grow taller, leaving loose soil for them to burrow into.
And above all, leave them be.
Snakes can be good for your yard and garden but let them get on with it. The more you disrupt and scare them, they won’t stick around to eat all those pests getting at your plants.
Should you kill snakes in your yard?
Under no circumstances should you kill a snake in your yard. For a start, the moment you try and do this, chances are if it’s venomous, you could get bitten.
Secondly, the snake is doing what a snake does in your backyard.
Leave the snake alone, remain calm, speak with a professional if it really does need to be removed.
Above all, don’t pour or put anything down the snake hole please!
If you find a snake in your yard, don’t freak out. In fact, providing it’s not a dangerous snake, be pleased you have it in your backyard as snakes are good for gardens as they can contribute towards healthy ecosystem and keep rodents down.
Keep a respectful distance though…
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Snake photo in header from https://unsplash.com/photos/aJk29rx5MSo