9 Gardening Tips that Support… Snakes?

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garter snake

Don’t freak out. Snakes have their purpose and most of them are actually harmless.

Listen my Green Divas Heart Wildlife podcast—I talk to Green Diva Meg about how you can support healthy garden snakes. Then read on for the tips…

If your garden is overrun with slugs and mice enlist the help of snakes! Many species of garter snakes and others, like the sharp-tailed snake (found on B.C.’s Gulf Islands), are a slug’s worst nightmare.

In Canada, we have about 25 different species of snakes. But don’t worry, most are shy.

Snake-friendly gardening tips

Tip 1: Avoid pesticides

Slug bait is harmful to snakes, other wildlife, children and pets!

Tip 2: Imitate nature

Avoid monocultures of plants that are planted in straight lines.

Tip 3: Use stones

Move objects like stones and slate carefully. They may be providing cover for your snake friends.

Tip 4: Plant a hedge

Hedges provides travel corridors and hiding places for snakes and other wildlife, too.happy snakes, happy gardens

Tip 5: Build a hibernaculum

Protect or build hibernaculum (den). Snakes love rocky hillsides or knolls that receive sun for most of the day, protected from cold winds and on well-drained sites.

Tip 6: Give me shelter!

Provide hiding places from hawks, crows, racoons and mink. Shelter can include rocks, brush piles and, patches of shrubs. Did a tree fall? Leave fallen logs and bark when possible.

Tip 7: Provide sun bathing areas

Snakes need to raise their body temperature to digest their food. Mommy snakes really appreciate warm spots when producing eggs or live young.


Tip 8: Make corridors

Rock walls and brush piles are most valuable when they’re connected to one another (and not in the middle of large open areas).

Tip 9: Stir before you mow

Use a stir stick before you weed whack or mow grassy areas. Walk through the tall grass with a stick first to help snakes slither away.

Don’t like snakes? They don’t take it personally. But intentional killing of snakes is wrong. And it’s contributing to the decline of many species—like Alberta’s prairie rattlesnake—as is road and pipeline construction and increased agricultural activity.

I’ve saved rattlesnakes in my past job on the Alberta prairies. They’re drawn to the heat of road pavement, making them vulnerable to traffic and increasing their odds of becoming a snake pancake.

Do you have a fond snake (or reptile) sighting to share?

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 queen of green lindsay coulterLinsday Coulter, David Suzuki’s Queen of Green, answers your green living questions and offers tips and recipes to make your life easier on the environment. It’s all about green living made easy!queen of green logo

Holding strong to the roots of the David Suzuki Foundation brand, Lindsay Coulter communicates the small steps to not only inform, but also empower Canadians to live “green” without guilt or the feeling of being overwhelmed. Her voice, tone, and sense of humor has the ability to lift, persuade and sometime shove people out of “what can I do” mode!

The Queen of Green seeks to build an engaged citizenry that starts with actions they can take at home, then into their neighbourhoods and communities to protect nature and improve our quality of life.

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About the author / 

David Suzuki Foundation

Our mission is to protect the diversity of nature and our quality of life, now and for the future. We collaborate with Canadians from all walks of life, including government and business, to conserve our environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through science-based research, education and policy work. Visit us at DavidSuzuki.org

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  1. aunt_bees@hotmail.com'
    Bridget from Cali July 3, 2017 at 9:30 pm -  Reply

    Not big reptile fan, but I am willing to be a good neighbor. Almost stepped on a long snake that was stretched out on the hot pavement from the curb to the center of the street the other evening. Once I realized it was gopher snake (and not a rattler), I tried to encourage it to move. It showed no interest whatsoever in budging. As fast as the cars drive around there, I worried that it would get flattened for sure. As I walked further up, I encountered a landscaping contractor finishing up for the day. I decided to ask if he wouldn’t mind relocating the reptile before it became a snake pancake. I just requested that he move it to the opposite hillside instead of on my property where it was closer. I was just out for a walk, but am also in the process of finishing our fire brush clearance. Friend or foe, I didn’t really want to encounter it again. Thankfully, with his help the snake will live to slither another day…

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