When you hear the word “snakes,” many of you do not immediately think of pleasant things. While most people don’t care for these scaly reptiles and consider them pests, snakes can be extremely beneficial in your garden! Thankfully, North America has few poisonous snakes, so you’re more likely to be startled than bitten. Here are some of the more common harmless snakes found in gardens.
Garter snake – often mispronounced as ‘gardener snake,’ these little critters love to hang around gardens. They don’t get very big, but that doesn’t stop garter snakes from snacking on all the bugs attracted to your garden!
Rat snake – Coming in a variety of colors, rat snakes prey on lizards, mice, rats, birds, and squirrels. These snakes are especially helpful if you have a vegetable garden that these animals are trying to get at! Because rat snakes can have similar coloring to copperheads, be sure you know what kind of snake you’re looking at before you panic!
King snake – Although it eats the same variety of rodents as the rat snake, the king snake’s chief value is it’s immunity to the venom of copperheads and water moccasins, which it will readily hunt and devour. If anyone lives near a water feature, king snakes are an excellent way to avoid any unpleasant encounters with venomous water snakes.
While we’re discussing snakes, it’s only fair to warn you that there are several poisonous snakes that you should stay away from if you see them.
Copperhead – Distinguishable by their arrow-shaped heads, copperheads are a dull brown color with darker hourglass figures on the back. They primarily hunt at night, but can also be found basking in the warmth of a sunny spot.
Water Moccasin – True to their name, water moccasins can be found near lakes and streams. They can be distinguished from other water snakes because most of their body stays above water while they swim. These snakes don’t flee easily and prefer to threaten predators by opening their mouths in preparation for striking, so watch where you step!