Most folk prefer not to encounter snakes in the garden, but I have come to to welcome them heartily! For me, it’s been a personal journey. It helped that I grew up in a home which allowed me to have many pets. Along the way, I did keep a couple of snakes. Still, when I started raising livestock, much of my perspective on snakes was negative. After all, I did lose a good many chicks to rat snakes. (The only photos I have taken of rat snakes are from when I found them in my chicken coop and killed them.) Then something happened which truly got me to reconsider this approach.
Something happened which caused me to reconsider my perspective on snakes.
The rat snakes in my area simply disappeared. We went for several years without seeing any. And… during that time we experienced huge crop losses, especially with root crops. Over the course of three years we probably lost close to a thousand pounds of sweet potatoes, even losing my seed stock of some varieties. I tried using rat poison, but was chagrined to find that it harmed other animals which I love. We got a cat, which helped. Still, after a year or two I began to wish for those pesky rat snakes, that they would return and visit my garden! The inconvenience of having them was MUCH less than that of NOT HAVING them. Finally, last year I did spot a single rat snake, and, in the last few years, other snakes have begun to move in greater numbers into the garden.
Now I spot snakes in the garden almost every time I work there.
Some are garter snakes. One garter snake was over 3′ long. Some are speckled king snakes, which i have personally observed going down holes to hunt rodents.
Related article: Good Snakes
Related Link: Insecticides Favor Pests
Snakes eat rodents and other pests.
This is a good reason to want snakes in the garden. While most people know that they eat rodents, they also eat insects and other creatures. There are a number of kinds of small, beneficial snakes which live underground most of the time. I frequently find them in the garden… and am glad.
The great majority of snakes are harmless to humans.
If you find a snake in the garden, it’s most likely harmless to you and… good for your garden. Don’t assume that every snake you find is bad. The fact is, most are actually helpful.
Snakes are part of the natural balance of our land.
Woods are much more than trees. A lake is much more than water. A pasture is much more than grass. So, a garden is much more than vegetable and/or flower plants. The soil is more than “dirt.” Good soil consists not only of minerals, but also a myriad of living things, most of which are too small for the naked eye to see. A garden consists of soil, plants and other living things… if it’s healthy.
When I properly care for my land and garden I expect to find other living creatures there.
Snakes are no exception. In fact, they are quite important! Now, if you have a really tiny garden, you can’t expect to use it as a regular wildlife refuge. However, one can always refrain from killing beneficial snakes, toads and lizards. It doesn’t take that much to learn to garden without the use of “broad spectrum” pesticides which can greatly harm them. Nor is it that difficult to use mulch and to leave some cover for some of these creatures. Your garden will be glad you did!