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.
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.
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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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Linsday 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!
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.