The Word “Snake” May Be Scary, but Garter Snakes are Harmless and Helpful

Photo Credit: Flickr

Lots of people who grew up in North America probably remember looking for garter snakes in their gardens and flower beds as children. They were fun to catch and carry around on your hand until they squirmed away (poor little things were probably terrified).

They are, for the most part, harmless.

Photo Credit: Flickr

As adults, many of us look upon all snakes as disgusting and dangerous, but the little garter snake is anything but. Though they have a toxic bite, it is completely ineffective on humans. If you do get bitten, it is still important to clean and disinfect the area.

Garters are common in many areas and are black, brown, gray or olive green with stripes that are white, yellow, green, blue or brown. Sometimes the stripes are well-defined with a center stripe running down the body and another stripe on either side. Sometimes the stripes are dotted with other colors, making the pattern look checkered instead. The head is larger than the body and the scales are raised along the edges.

Photo Credit: Flickr

They can be found in lengths of between 18 to 54 inches and weigh around 5 ounces. But the best part about garter snakes is how peacefully they live with humans and pets around – they’re happiest in a garden where they can hunt for snails, slugs, small rodents and plenty of other critter that we think of as pests. They also live under rocks, logs and in other places where they can find plenty of the food they like.

Photo Credit: Pixnio

They also make good, easygoing pets, since they are small and active during the day. Kids love to hold them (under adult supervision), too. While it’s not recommended (or usually legal) to keep a wild snake, there are plenty to adopt from a rescue group or to purchase from a breeder.


Pet stores will also sell them along with all the items you will need to make them a good home, such as a large, lidded aquarium, a container for water and a heat source, if necessary. They also like rocks and clean, shredded bedding. Feed them small rodents, frogs and earthworms, and they will be as happy as little clams.

As will you with your new best friend!