Although garter snakes are relatively harmless, they may bite if mishandled or if they feel threatened. It doesn’t help that they’re frequent visitors of gardens, lawns, or yards, especially during the summer.
So, how to get rid of garter snakes? You can sweep them into a container using a broom, install snake traps, set up glue boards, or contact a professional to remove and relocate the snake away from your property.
This comprehensive guide will help you with everything you need to know about garter snakes, how to get rid of them, and how to effectively prevent them from ever coming back. Read for more!
What Are Garter Snakes?
Garter snakes refer to a group of snakes belonging in the Thamnophis genus, composed of 35 recognized species. They have an extensive range partly due to their adaptability to extreme environmental conditions.
Although they vary in appearance, most garter snakes are slender-bodied with keeled scales, large round eyes, and distinctive striped patterns. Some island and coastal populations lack stripes. Instead, they have bars or spots.
What Do Garter Snakes Like?
Since garter snakes are cold-blooded, it’s no surprise that they enjoy basking under the sun to warm their bodies. In fact, if they are unable to do so, they may starve to death despite having already eaten.
What Do Garter Snakes Eat?
They usually eat earthworms, leeches, crayfish, insects, slugs, snails, small fish, amphibians, and other snakes. Occasionally, they feed on lizards, small mammals, or small birds.
Garter snakes forage by using their excellent sight and sense of smell. Their hunting methods include ambushing, craning, and peering before capturing prey. Their saliva is slightly toxic to smaller prey.
Where Do Garter Snakes Live?
They are commonly found in woodlands, meadows, hillsides, and marshes. They prefer environments that are moist and grassy. Gartner snakes are also quite common in urban and suburban areas with sufficient cover.
How Long Do Garter Snakes Live?
Garter snakes have an average lifespan of just 2 to 4 years in the wild. Most garter snakes are known to die in their first year of age. In captivity, they are able to live up to 20 years old.
How Big Will Garter Snakes Get?
Garter snakes generally grow lengths of 18 to 54 inches and have an average weight of 150 grams. Some species, however, can be less than this size as evidenced by the Butler’s garter snake which has a minimum length of 15 inches.
What Is the Behavior of Garter Snakes?
They are diurnal and are active even in temperatures that most snakes couldn’t handle. Although they are primarily solitary, they congregate in large numbers at hibernation sites. Hibernation usually begins in late October and lasts until early April.
Why Are They Called Garter Snakes?
Their name is a reference to the striped garters used by men to keep up stockings. Interestingly, their scientific species name sirtalis means striped, which also refers to the stripes adorning the length of the snakes’ bodies.
Are Garter Snakes Dangerous?
No. Garter snakes are not known to be aggressive. However, they will readily defend themselves by biting. These snakes are mildly venomous but its venom is not potent enough to be a medical threat to humans.
Signs of Garter Snakes Infestation
Look out for these signs of garter snakes infestation around your property.
- Sightings of the snake themselves
- Shed snake skin
- Fecal droppings
- Slither tracks or winding trails
- Hissing noises
- Stinky odor called musk
Why Are There Garter Snakes In Your Yard?
There are two reasonable explanations for your predicament: food and shelter. Garter snakes are common visitors of gardens, lawns, and yards due to the abundance of slugs, snails, and other pests in these areas.
Additionally, they may find areas in your yard that they particularly like to use for basking under the sun, hiding from predators, or for protecting themselves against harsh weather conditions.
7 Best Garter Snakes Deterrents
If you’re looking for ready-made, commercial products that can help keep snakes away from your property, here’s a list of the best products available in the market:
Frabill 1271 Fishing Equipment Nets & Traps
This large torpedo-shaped trap is made with heavy-duty steel mesh, divided into three pieces that can be easily deconstructed to place a bait and remove snakes. If you have multiple snakes in your property, this is the perfect product for you.
- Frabill | Trusted By Anglers Since 1938
- Constructed from sturdy vinyl dipped steel | Black color provides...
- Two-piece design simplifies baiting and catch removal | Includes...
- Specially designed to trap minnows
Exterminators Choice Snake Defense Spray
Formulated with peppermint oil, cinnamon, clove, and other ingredients that snakes hate smelling, this repellent spray is best used for hiding spots. A few spritzes can last up to 3 weeks, depending on environmental conditions.
- Snake Repellent - Keep venomous and non-venomous snakes away from...
- Perfect for Indoors and Outdoors - Use the snake spray for...
- Non-Toxic Formula - Our snake deterrent features all-natural...
- Easy to Use - To use, shake the snake defense spray well and...
- Long-Lasting - The reptile repellent for snakes comes in a large...
Baited Glue Traps by Catchmaster
Made with professional-strength adhesive, this glue trap serves a dual purpose as it catches both snakes and rodents. So not only do you control gartner snake populations, you also limit their food supply too!
- READY TO USE: Rat, Mouse and Snake glue traps are pre-scented and...
- YEAR-ROUND PROTECTION: The disposable large mouse pad is sticky,...
- HOME & FAMILY SAFE: Designed to help you keep your family...
- TOTAL COVERAGE: The mouse traps indoor for home can be used in...
- INTELLIGENT PEST MANAGEMENT: At our core, we are dedicated pest...
Catchmaster Heavy Duty Snake Glue Boards
Also by the same manufacturer as the product above, this glue board is made for larger-sized garter snakes. It covers up to 50 square inches of surface area and has greater adhesive power.
- READY TO USE: Rat, Mice and Spider glue traps are pre-scented and...
- YEAR-ROUND PROTECTION: Catchmaster glue traps for mice and rats...
- LARGER SURFACE AREA: Our insect and rat traps cover a large...
- KEEP PESTS OUT: Our heavy-duty indoor bug catcher and rodent trap...
- INTELLIGENT PEST MANAGEMENT: At our core, we are dedicated pest...
Liquid Fence 75011 Snake Repellent
As the name suggests, this product acts as a liquid barrier to repel snakes when you shake some of its granules around your property. This repellent works immediately and offers protection of up to several weeks.
- REPELS SNAKES: Granules obstruct a snake’s keen sense of taste...
- FAST-ACTING: Goes to work immediately and helps curb snake...
- APPLY YEAR-ROUND: Shake granules around your garden, patio and...
- SAFE AROUND KIDS AND PETS: Will not harm plants or animals and is...
- COVERAGE: 5 pounds of granules covers up to 2,500 square feet.
Victor VP364B Snake-A-Way Outdoor Snake Repelling Granules
This product works best for garter snakes and rattlesnakes as it is specially formulated to overwhelm their sense of smell, prompting them to leave your property immediately. Take note that they must be reapplied if rainfall is persistent in your area.
- Repels Snakes Outdoors – These granules begin working...
- Controls by Scent – The granules temporarily disrupt snakes’...
- EPA-Registered – Use this product with peace of mind knowing...
- Long-Lasting – One applications of Snake-A-Way lasts for up to...
- Protects up to 1/2 Acre – Use the granules along the perimeter...
Whemoalus Snake Repellent
Keep garter snakes away from your property by using this scent-based snake repellent. It uses essential oils that snakes hate, offering 24/7 protection not only for your pets and children but also for your feeders, plants, and turfgrass.
- SNAKE AWAY REPELLENT - The snake repllent automatically stop...
- FAST ACTING LONG LASTING-The snake away repellent for outdoors...
- SAFE FOR PETS & HUMAN - Made with all-natural essential oils that...
- EASY TO USE-The instruction is concise, just remove the products...
- MULTI-USE-Snake repellent does not harm the snakes, and is can be...
How to Get Rid of Garter Snakes?
Here are some effective ways you can get rid of these snakes:
- Sweep the garter snake into a tall bucket, box, or other suitable container using a broom.
- Install snake traps that are 2 to 3 feet in length and 6 inches in diameter. They can either be wooden boxes with funnels or screened mesh cylinders.
- Set up glue boards in warm, quiet areas within your property. Once caught, make sure to use vegetable oil to remove the snake from the adhesive.
Remember to release the garter snake away from your property and into the wild where they rightfully belong. Even better, you can contact a local wildlife authority or professional to relocate the snake for you.
How to Prevent Garter Snakes in the Future?
Aside from the use of repellents, it is important to know other methods of preventing future garter snake infestations. You can implement these following strategies:
- Habitat modification. Mow vegetative cover and eliminate debris to reduce hiding spots. Cover loose soil using lava rock and caulk around slabs and stoops.
- Seal openings. This includes any identifiable crack, crevice, and gap both inside and outside of your home. Place barriers on windows, install door sweeps, and put up a screen in vents.
- Remove food sources. Control populations of rodents, small birds, and snails if possible. Make sure to clean up any spilled bird feed or pet food from your lawn, garden, or yard.
- Install a snake fence. Make sure to use heavy-duty mesh or sheeting. Anchor the fence a few inches underground.
List of Sources
Ferraro, D. M., & Vantassel, S. M. (2011). Garter Snakes in and around the HOME.
Florida Museum of Natural History. (n.d.). Common Gartersnake.
Mann, A. (2003). Eastern Gartersnake: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. (n.d.). Learn about common gartersnakes.
Messmer, T. (2018). 12 Ways to Stop Snakes From Slithering Into Your Yard.
University of Delaware. (2019). Snake Safety.
Zimmerman, R. (n.d.). Thamnophis sirtalis: Common Garter Snake.
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