What Do Garter Snakes Eat?

There are 35 species of garter snakes. These snakes are easily identified by their slim bodies that feature body-long stripes. These stripes come in a number of colors, including red, gray, orange, yellow, and green. Its also not unheard of to find a garter snake with turquoise stripes. The underbelly scales of all garter snakes are distinctly lighter in color.

When not resting, these snakes prefer moist, grassy areas and are often found near water, such as streams and lakes. They also like areas that provide cover, so if your yard has piles of debris, such as rocks, logs, boards or dense vegetation, you are more likely to have a garter snake infestation.

So if you have a large number of garter snakes in your yard, they can do more harm than good, ultimately leaving your garden plants vulnerable. Put on some gloves and sprinkle the granules along the perimeter you want to protect these snakes wont cross the line you create with the Snake-A-Way.

What do garter snakes mostly eat?

Typically these snakes eat earthworms, small fish and amphibians, but they are known to also take small mammals and birds. This snake does not lay eggs.

Are garter snakes good to have in your yard?

Garter snakes are a gardener’s friend! Harmless to humans, they eat all the pests that wreak havoc in your garden. Learn more about the shy but helpful gardening helper who just wants to live peacefully in harmony with you—and eat your slugs! … I kind of wish we did have some; they’re known to eat tick-infested mice!

Can a garter snake hurt you?

Does a garter snake bite hurt? Like any animal’s bite, the garter snakes’ bite will hurt, but it is unlikely to cause serious issues, or even death. Some species do contain venom, although it is not considered significantly toxic to humans.

Are garter snakes aggressive?

Almost all garter snake subspecies are classified as harmless, according to Live Science. These tiny, innocuous snakes are generally considered to be non-venomous and won’t usually bite unless thoroughly provoked.

One of the most common snakes throughout much of North and Central America, the garter snake is a member of the Colubridae family. Colubridae is the largest family of snakes, with roughly 1,700 species. Most Colubrids either have very weak venom or are entirely non-venomous, so they are considered mostly harmless to humans. So, what do garter snakes eat?

These little snakes are incredibly useful ecologically by controlling rodent and insect populations, and many gardeners even like to keep a few around in their backyard to keep pests away from their crops. Lets take a look at what the average garter snake eats on a daily basis, how they locate and take down their prey, and the various higher-level predator animals they have to look out for whenever theyre searching for their next meal.

This means they dont eat plant matter and subsist solely on meat from other animals. Because they are one of the smaller varieties of snakes and lack powerful venom or the ability to constrict their prey, they prefer to hunt animals that are small and weak enough to easily ambush and swallow whole. However, they will occasionally eat eggs from smaller birds and reptiles because they are easy targets and have lots of protein.

minnows and guppies Rodents like mice, shrews, and chipmunks Smaller snakes, especially babies and juveniles Snails Eggs (from birds, reptiles, or fish) Once theyve located their next meal, a garter snake will wait for the perfect moment to strike before swallowing the prey whole. Interestingly, although garter snakes were long considered to be non-venomous, more recent research has shown that their saliva actually possesses a very weak neurotoxic venom .

More specifically, garter snakes have a huge array of mammalian, avian, amphibious, and reptilian predators to look out for while theyre on the hunt for a meal, such as: Despite their weakness and small size, garter snakes actually do possess just one somewhat effective defense mechanism.

Common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) are active mainly during the day and are active through a wider range of temperatures than most snakes. They hibernate from late October through March or early April, but can be found basking on rocks during mild winter days. Common garter snakes hibernate in natural cavities or burrows, such as rodent burrows, crayfish burrows, under rock piles, or in stumps.

The saliva of common garter snakes may be slightly toxic to some of their small prey, making it easier to handle them while they are being eaten. Due to its ability to live a variety of ecosystems, common garter snakes are not directly managed.

What Do Garter Snakes Eat?

Like all reptiles, garter snakes are cold-blooded creatures, so they are often found in locations that offer warmth and food. These slender snakes can enter your home through fairly small cracks. Garter snakes often snack on small mammals, too, such as mice, and small amphibians, such as toads and frogs.While garter snakes can act as a natural pest control, most people who discover snakes in their home find it to be a frightening experience. Most importantly, garter snakes give off a distinct, foul smell that can infiltrate your home and some experts say garters may be one of the smelliest snakes.While garter snakes are generally solitary creatures, they generally hibernate in large numbers to prevent heat loss and keep their bodies warm. Due to their combined smell, a large group of garter snakes in or under your home can make your residence uninhabitable.

Garter Snakes in the Yard and Garden

A few garter snakes in the garden can be a good thing. They eat insects and other pests, so they can control those pests that harm your plants. You don’t want a large number of these snakes in your garden, however.Garter snakes will call your yard home when it provides the right conditions. When not resting, these snakes prefer moist, grassy areas and are often found near water, such as streams and lakes. They also like areas that provide cover, so if your yard has piles of debris, such as rocks, logs, boards or dense vegetation, you are more likely to have a garter snake infestation.Gartner snakes are problematic in the yard and garden for a couple of reasons. First, most people are startled and frightened when they encounter a snake while outdoors. While generally shy and withdrawing, a garter snake will bite if you accidentally step on them. It is estimated between 1.2 and 5.5 million people get bitten by snakes each year around the world, with the largest number of bites coming from non-venomous snakes. Second, while garter snakes do eat insects, they don’t distinguish between beneficial bugs and harmful ones. So if you have a large number of garter snakes in your yard, they can do more harm than good, ultimately leaving your garden plants vulnerable.Shop Havahart® Snake Solutions »

How to Get Rid of Garter Snakes

Whether they are a nuisance or you are just frightened by their presence, garter snakes can be driven away. Let’s look at how to get rid of snakes around the house.Prevention is best. Go around your home and close up any cracks or holes where snakes could enter and work to make your home snake proof. There are also products you can buy, such as Victor® Snake-A-Way® or Safer Brand® Snake Shield ™ Snake Repellent. These granular formulas of snake repellents is easy to use and effective. Put on some gloves and sprinkle the granules along the perimeter you want to protect – these snakes won’t cross the line you create with the Snake-A-Way.

How Do Garter Snakes Hunt Prey?

Like all snakes, the 30+ unique species of garter snakes are strict carnivores. This means they don’t eat plant matter and subsist solely on meat from other animals.Because they are one of the smaller varieties of snakes and lack powerful venom or the ability to constrict their prey, they prefer to hunt animals that are small and weak enough to easily ambush and swallow whole.Garter snakes won’t eat animals that are already dead or decomposing, either! Their prey needs to be alive for them to be interested in it. However, they will occasionally eat eggs from smaller birds and reptiles because they are easy targets and have lots of protein.Here’s a list of the many kinds of animals garter snakes eat regularly:

Habitat

The Common Garternsake is widespread at all elevations statewide in appropriate habitat. Those habitats vary widely, although it is often near water.

Reproduction

These snakes begin mating in the spring as soon as they emerge from hibernation. The males leave the den first and wait for the females to exit. Once the females leave the den the males surround them. The males give off pheromones that attract the females.After the female has chosen her mate and mated, she returns to her summer habitat to feed and to find a proper birth place. However, the males stay to re-mate with other available females. The females have the ability to store the male’s sperm until it is needed and thus a female may not mate if she does not find a proper partner.Common garter snakes are ovoviviparous (bearing live young). The young are incubated in the lower abdomen, about half way down from the snake’s body. Gestation is usually two to three months. Most litters range from 10 to 40 young and litter size depends on the size of the female, with larger females giving birth to larger litters. Upon birth, baby garter snakes are independent and must find food on their own.Common garter snakes become sexually mature at 1.5 years (males) or two years (females).

Diet

Common garter snakes typically eat earthworms , amphibians, leeches, slugs, snails, insects, crayfish, small fish and other snakes. They seem immune to the toxic skin secretions of toads and can eat them without harm. Occasionally small mammals, lizards, or baby birds are eaten as well.Common garter snakes find their prey using their excellent sense of smell and their vision. They use several different hunting methods, such as peering, craning, and ambushing to capture their prey. The different techniques describe the way the snakes move while they hunt.They immobilize their prey using their sharp teeth and quick reflexes. The saliva of common garter snakes may be slightly toxic to some of their small prey, making it easier to handle them while they are being eaten. Like other snakes, they swallow their food whole.