Garter snakes are one of the most diversified snakes in the United States when it comes to habitat and habit. They live in a variety of regions and are active during the strangest of times! This may be why you seem to see more of these types of snakes than any other.
The good news is that garter snakes are completely harmless. They are not aggressive, are not venomous, and best of all they can serve as a wonderful form of natural pest control around your property in small numbers.
However, there are times when garter snakes can get out of control, and they can be especially unnerving to those who aren’t fond of these slithering, leggless reptiles.
Are you wondering how to get rid of garter snakes? Then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s begin!
What Are Garter Snakes?
A garter snake is a small, non-venomous snake common throughout the United States.
Garter snakes are a common snake indigenous to North and Central America. There are a few varieties of garter snake, though all belong to small or medium sized snakes in the genus Thamnophis.
This video does a good job of describing how to identify garter snakes on your property.
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In general, garter snakes can range in size from 18 to 24 inches, though some have been found to measure up to 42 inches in length!
These critters are quite docile, and will generally do their best to avoid humans. They are not dangerous to humans or pets, and they can serve as a form of natural pest control in gardens and yards, as previously mentioned.
Typically, garter snakes are solitary and spend their days alone in search of food and heat. You can often find them basking on rocks in the sun or slithering through grasses or marshy areas.
However, during their hibernation period between October and March, garter snakes will congregate in the hundreds in dens to preserve body warmth. This is perhaps the time they can become most problematic for homeowners, as some garter snake dens have been known to form in crawl spaces, below decks, or even underground in gardens.
In large numbers, and even on their own, garter snakes emit a potent smelling musk that is absolutely wretched. If you’ve ever captured or held a wild garter snake, you may have noticed this smell. Worse yet, you may have noticed this smell is nearly impossible to get rid of no matter how many times you wash your hands!
When garter snakes congregate in large areas to hibernate, this smell can be unbearable. Depending on where garter snakes are hibernating, the musk can even seep into water sources and make living in or near your home miserable.
So, while one or two garter snakes are great to have a round, hundreds are not. Keep reading.
Understanding The Habitat Of Garter Snakes
Like many reptiles, garter snakes are most common during warmer months and are commonly attracted to areas with places to hide and lots of food.
Garter snakes are unique to the reptile world because they have such diverse habitats and are so adaptable. They are more common in a wide range of areas and environments, and some are even brave enough to venture out and about during the winter months to get warm.
However, most garter snakes prefer warm, moist areas and aquatic environments. This is because they often feed on small fish and other aquatic creatures. Freshwater dwellers, garter snakes are talented swimmers. They prefer to be near water not only for food, but also for safety. If threatened, it’s not uncommon for a garter snake to seek refuge in a nearby pond, stream or lake.
That said, it’s also common to find garter snakes in areas far from fresh water sources, so long as they have somewhere to hide.
So if you don’t want a garter snake near your home, you’ll likely want to consider this when considering how to get rid of garter snakes.
How Did I Get Garter Snakes Around My Home?
If you have lush lawns with lots of foliage, garter snakes may be lurking nearby.
If you’re noticing a plethora of garter snakes in your vicinity, there could be a few things you’re unintentionally doing that are attracting them and making your property more hospitable.
As we discussed above, garter snakes prefer moist, marshy areas near water. If you live near ponds, streams or lakes you’re likely to have more of an abundance of these reptiles slithering about.
Similarly, garter snakes like areas that provide them with cover.
If your grass is long and lush, you may have more garter snakes than usual. Additionally, you may have more garter snakes slithering about if you have piles of debris, garden sheds, low built decks, shrubs or bushes along your siding, and lots of dense undergrowth.
Piles of fallen leaves can also provide a safe space for garter snakes to hide, so if you have a number of trees in or around your property losing their leaves during fall, you may notice an uptick in these critters.
The good news is that there are a few ways you can work on how to get rid of garter snakes by not only making your property less inviting to them, but by also using a few products.
With that in mind, let’s talk about some of our favorite products available for how to get rid of garter snakes and then take a look at a few steps you can take to keep these pests from returning to your yard.
Best Products For How To Get Rid Of Garter Snakes
Garter snakes are not dangerous, but they could be unnerving to those who aren’t all about slithering reptiles.
When it comes to how to get rid of garter snakes, there are a variety of methods and products you can use. These methods range from traps to sprays to home remedies, all of which can be effective in different ways.
Of course, many of these products have their own list of pros and cons, and what method is right for you when it comes to how to get rid of garter snakes is going to depend on your lifestyle, your family, and how you prefer to get rid of them.
With that noted, here are some available products that we like to keep garter snakes and other pests like them out of your yard.
Bonide Products Snake Stopper
Bonide is a popular brand that makes a variety of different types of pest control products. What we like about this snake stopper, however, is that it is safe for people and pets. It will not harm other beneficial animals either, and it deters snakes using a harmless smell that they find unbearable.
This no-harm snake deterrent is easy to use and is also biodegradable, which is always a plus. It is safe to spray in gardens, on lawns, in flower beds, in sheds, and even inside your home.
It comes in a 32 ounce spray bottle and is best used for how to get rid of garter snakes when sprayed around your home as a barrier treatment. However, it’s a good idea to make sure you have removed or relocated any current garter snakes on your property before spraying this spray to ensure they do not stay put.
Victor Store Snake-A-Way Snake Repellent Granules
Another product we like for how to get rid of garter snakes are these granules above. Like many other products on this list, the granules work for not only how to get rid of garter snakes, but also other snakes and reptiles you don’t want lurking about.
The granules cover up to 5 acres of land and can last up to three months when applied correctly.
They work by disrupting the snake’s sensory reception which causes them to flee. Use these products as a barrier or sprinkle it around areas you don’t want garter snakes to come.
While we do like this product and think it works well for how to get rid of garter snakes, you should note that the granules use 7% naphthalene, which is a common chemical ingredient found in mothballs, and 28% sulfur.
Be sure to read the directions and use the above snake-a-way granules only as directed.
Snake Repellent Stakes
Using ultrasonic solar powered stakes are another popular and low maintenance way some people are using for how to get rid of garter snakes. These above stakes use solar power to emit ultrasonic sounds and vibrations that irritate pests like snakes, moles, voles, and other lawn pests, causing them to flee.
Again, this is a harm-free method you can use for how to get rid of garter snakes and a wide variety of other reptiles and rodents. Best of all, it’s completely safe to use around children and pets and harmless to the environment.
Each package contains a two pack of stakes and each stake pulses every 30 seconds. These pulses penetrate the soil, getting rid of pests both below and above the surface.
That said, we should note that the stakes may not be an instant fix. It commonly takes between two to four weeks to see results, so we recommend perhaps using these stakes along with other methods or products for how to get rid of garter snakes if you want them gone immediately.
Exterminators Choice Snake Defense Spray
With a name like Exterminators Choice, you may immediately think this spray is lethal to snakes and other pests. The good news is that this is a non-toxic, harm-free repellent to a variety of snakes including garter snakes as well as copperhead snakes and rattlesnakes. This spray also works for other pests like lizards and reptiles.
It works using a combination of essential oils and other natural ingredients that garter snakes can’t stand, causing them to leave the vicinity.
Since this spray uses natural ingredients that are harmless to people and the environment, it is perfectly safe to use all around your yard and garden.
Best of all, the smell is even quite pleasant to people!
To use this effectively for how to get rid of garter snakes, you should spray it around the perimeter of your yard and garden, as well as around your home.
Whemoalus snake Repellent
If you are looking for how to get rid of garter snakes inside and outside of your home, you might consider trying these unique snake repellent balls by Whemolaus. The products are a pet and kid safe alternative to snake repellent that are safe to use both inside and out, and you can even place them in your garden!
They work by emitting a time-released scent that snakes hate but people love. The ingredients include a combination of essential oils that are pleasant smelling for people but horrendous for snakes. Best of all, these products are harm-free and work for up to 2 months.
They keep garter snakes not only from coming around, but also from nesting. We also like that this product is simple to use and can work for many other pests as well – even insects.
All you need to do is remove the product from its package and place it in the area you want to keep snakes from entering. It’s as simple as that!
Liquid Fence Snake Repellent
Last, we have a popular product known as Liquid Fence. This brand makes a few different types of repellents, but this specific repellent is designed to keep a variety of snakes out of your home and yard.
Like most of the products above, these snake-repellent granules work for how to get rid of garter snakes by emitting a harm-free, kid and pet safe odor that taps into a snake’s senses and alerts them to flee.
When applied correctly, the granules can cover up to 2,500 square feet and last for several weeks. The ingredients include essential oils like cedar oil, and they are free of the chemical ingredient naphthalene, which can be dangerous for pets and children.
Best Traps For How To Get Rid Of Garter Snakes
A few garter snakes may be considered beneficial to your yard or garden, as they help remove unwanted pests like rodents and insects.
While many of the above products for how to get rid of garter snakes work and work well, they may not help you if you have an abundance of garter snakes on your property. This is especially true if you have hundreds of garter snakes denning or hibernating.
If you’re looking for a way to trap and relocate garter snakes, it’s important you use traps that work. Not all traps are designed to collect snakes, especially as snakes can be expert escape artists.
Some of the below traps are the top recommended for trapping and relocating snakes. However, we should note that when you are relocating garter snakes, it’s important to relocate them at least five miles away from your property so they will not return. Then you should go about implementing preventative measures like using snake repellents above and some of the tips we will discuss below at the end of this article.
But for now, let’s take a look at some traps you can use for how to get rid of garter snakes and relocate them.
Ouronehome 47 Inch Long Snake Catcher Tongs
If you’re afraid of snakes, you may not be too keen on catching them with tongs. However, if you are feeling brave and want to go about collecting and relocating these snakes immediately, we would recommend investing in some snake tongs like those above by Ouronehome.
These tongs are 47 inches long, which allow you to collect the snakes without getting too close. Not only does this help keep you from having to touch the snake, but it reduces the chances of you dealing with that musty smell they emit.
More importantly, and while garter snakes are not venomous, they can bite and their bites can be painful.
The tongs are made of quality aluminum and are professional grade. The handle is designed to be a non-slip handle, making capturing these snakes more simple.
If you do plan on using this method, experts recommend having a bag or large bucket nearby where you can store the snakes before you remove them.
It’s also very important to make sure you know for certain you are dealing with garter snakes. Before you decide to collect or trap them, go over some basic snake identification videos or do a bit of research.
If you do feel you might have venomous snakes on your property, it is best to contact an expert.
Harris Snake Glue Trap
We don’t always recommend glue traps when it comes to capturing snakes. Many people consider these traps cruel and painful for snakes, although we do have a way you can capture these snakes then gently relocate them without causing them harm.
If you do want to use a glue trap for how to get rid of garter snakes and relocate them, we would recommend the Harris Snake Glue Traps above. (Bonus – these traps also work for catching pests like rodents).
Once you catch the garter snake, you can pour olive oil on the trap and then gently remove the snake using a plastic spatula (not a metal spatula) to drop them into a bucket or bag and relocate them.
However, this method is best utilized when you’re only dealing with a few garter snakes on your property. Once you do use a glue trap and apply oil to it, you often cannot use it again.
Humane Catch and Release Snake Trap
If you have an abundance of garter snakes on your property, we would recommend using a humane catch and release trap that is reusable to catch the snakes and relocate them. The above trap by Amazing Traps is designed to capture a number of different snakes, not just garter snakes.
Again, before you use this trap, we recommend having a good idea of which types of snakes you are dealing with. It’s also important to have a basic knowledge of the types of snakes in your area so you can identify which types of snakes you are relocating.
Remember, if you feel you are dealing with venomous snakes, it’s best to contact a professional for the safest removal.
Home Remedies For How To Get Rid Of Garter Snakes
One very simple way to remove garter snakes from your property is to simply catch and release them. But you can also use household products.
Many of the products listed above for how to get rid of garter snakes include natural ingredients that you may already have in your home.
If you are looking for a quick and affordable way for how to get rid of garter snakes (or any types of snakes, for that matter), you might consider using some of the below household products.
You may have noticed that sulfur is a common ingredient in some of the above products for how to get rid of garter snakes. This is because the odor of sulfur is repulsive to snakes (and often to people), so it can help to get rid of them. To best use sulfur, we recommend purchasing it in powdered form. However, remember that sulfur is a very strong smelling product and could be irritating to you, your family and your pets.
Instead of using sulfur, which is a very stinky solution for how to get rid of garter snakes, why not use a product that smells good? There are a number of essential oils you can use as a natural form of pest control, but the ones that work best for snakes include:
- Clove Oil
- Cinnamon Oil
- Cedarwood Oil
You can use the above essential oils in a few different ways. First, you can saturate cotton balls in the oils of your choice and place them around your home or garden to deter pests. You can also make a spray using two cups of water and 15 to 20 drops of essential oil and spray it around your home and garden every few days.
This method is safe, effective and delightful to boot.
If you have mothballs, then you have a good source of naphthalene. Naphthalene is a strong smelling chemical ingredient used in mothballs to deter a variety of pests, and it also works for garter snakes.
While this method is effective, we do not recommend using naphthalene products around pets or children. The chemicals can be harmful and dangerous, and may also be harmful for the environment if you use them in gardens or near water sources to get rid of garter snakes.
Garlic or Onions and Rock Salt
If you dice garlic or onions and mix them with rock salt, you have an effective deterrent to add to the perimeter of your home that will keep garter snakes at bay. Just remember that onions and garlic can be harmful to dogs if ingested, so we would not recommend this method if you have pets that like to play outside.
Vinegar is a safe and effective tool you can use for how to get rid of garter snakes around sources of water. If you have garden ponds or live near water sources, you can pour white vinegar around the perimeter of these water sources to keep garter snakes at bay. This is not only an effective method of removal and repel snakes, but a safe one as well.
Lime and Hot Pepper
If you combine lime juice and hot pepper in a spray bottle and spray it around your property, you can confidently say goodbye to garter snakes. The acidity of the lime juice and the harshness of the hot pepper will be sure to drive snakes away.
However, you will have to reapply this solution often in order for it to work effectively and consistently.
Last, we have the option of using ammonia. Ammonia is a strong smelling ingredient used in many household cleaners, and it can work to get rid of snakes in a number of ways. Mostly, though, it’s the fumes of ammonia that help to deter pests.
To use ammonia effectively, you can saturate cotton balls or rags and place them in areas around your property.
How To Get Rid Of Garter Snakes – Tips on Prevention
Getting rid of Garter snakes can be simple as long as you make your property less hospitable to them.
Now that you know how to get rid of garter snakes, it’s important to take measures to keep them from coming back.
You can reduce the chances of dealing with garter snakes in the future by following the below tips from experts:
- Remove excess debris on your property
- Get rid of leaf litter and grass clippings
- Reduce a garter snake’s food supply (including rodents and insects)
- Invite the predators (birds of prey, chickens, fox, pigs, cats and guinea hens)
- Keep up with routine landscaping
- Plant snake-repellent plants (marigolds, mother-in-law’s tongue, onions and garlic)
- And Use plastic sheets or steel mesh around your property to keep snakes at bay
And remember, garter snakes are not venomous or dangerous to people or pets. However, if you’re not sure whether or not you’re dealing with a garter snake, it’s best to contact a professional for help.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on how to get rid of garter snakes! Now we would love to hear from you.
What other home remedies have you considered when it comes to getting rid of pests? Leave your comments below.