Do Garter Snakes Bite And Are They Dangerous

If you have run into a Garter Snake around your house or on your travels in nature, you shouldn’t be too surprised as these animals are commonly found in gardens, forests, Farm yards and wet lands in the USA.

If you have run into the Garter Snake for the first time, you might be wondering if the Garter Snake is dangerous to you, your children and even your pets. The truth is that Garter Snakes don’t pose any real threat to you and your family with some important caveats. They are docile creatures who chose flight over fight almost every time and will do almost anything to avoid a confrontation. They do have small teeth, can bite when threatened and are slightly venomous but their venom is not enough to cause you or your family any serious problems.

Their friendly nature even makes them popular as pets and they are excellent at keeping the area pest and rodent free.


What Do Garter Snakes Look like

Garter Snakes grow up to 3 feet in length and there are three distinct varieties in the Common Garter, The Checkered Garter and the Ribbon Garter. They all have a line straight down the middle of their body that makes them easily distinguishable.

They are likely to flatten their body and get into a striking position to look more dangerous when they feel threatened and they emit a musky smell to ward off predators.

They are attracted to long grass and piles of bushes or rocks where they can easily hide or anywhere that they can find their prey like barns or farmyards.

Do Garter Snakes Bite

Garter Snakes can bite, usually when they are being handled and not used to it. They will lash out and bite. They have a small set of teeth that can sometimes break the skin and cause some bleeding but their venom is extremely mild and not enough to cause any serious harm.

A wild Garter that isn’t used to being handled is much more likely to strike out and when you keep Garter Snakes as pets they will be a lot more used to being handled, calm in your presence and very unlikely to lash out.

Biting is not even the primary defence mechanism used by Garter Snakes. They prefer to let off a musky smell that wards potential predators away but may not be sufficient to keep dogs, cats and birds of prey away from a tasty snack.

Are Garter Snakes Dangerous To Humans

If you don’t approach a Garter snake the wrong way they will be completely harmless but if you threaten it, it may bite. These bites are completely harmless but may draw blood in some cases.

Another way Garters may be dangerous is in the fact that they carry salmonella just like all snakes and if you handle a garter snake and then go to eat without washing your hands, it may cause you to become seriously ill.

This is going to be a particular problem for Children who may pick up Garter snakes and not wash their hands afterwards or threaten the snake and end up being bitten.


What To Do If You Are Bitten By A Garter Snake

The first thing to do is not to panic and realise that you aren’t in any danger and the second thing to two is clean the source of the bite with a disinfectant as quickly as possible.

Cover it with a plaster and keep and eye on it. You should be back to normal in no time.


Are Garter Snakes Dangerous To Dogs

If you bring a dog that is full of energy and a garter snake together, there is likely to be fireworks and it may not end well for either animal.

Your Energetic buddy is likely to be very curious about the Garter Snake and the Garter snake is likely to feel very threatened by your pet dog and rightfully so.

The Snake may end up releasing it’s musk, biting your dog and enviably end up being killed and or eaten by your Buddy.

Eating a Garter Snake should not have any negative consequences for your dog but if he is showing discomfort and swelling around the mouth, it is probably best to give your vet a call and get your Buddy checked out to make sure everything is ok.


Are Garter Snakes Dangerous To Cats

Cats are going to be immediately drawn to the slithery and sliding Garter snake and is likely to immediately see him as prey to be hunted.

The docile and friendly Garter snake is not likely to have much in the way of defence and is likely to end up being killed and/or eaten.

The same is true for cats. If they are eat the snake or are bitten, they are unlikely to suffer negative consequences but if they are showing some uneasiness in the hours following their encounter, it is best to consult with your vet to make sure everything is in order.

If your dog or cat is bitten by a Garter, again, don’t panic, there is more than likely nothing to worry about. The main thing to do is to clean the area thoroughly and watch out for any negative symptoms. If they ate the Garter snake keep a close eye and call your vet if they are showing visible signs of distress just to be sure there is nothing more serious to worry about.


Can You Pick Up Garter Snakes

If you have a pet garter snake you can probably pick one up without issue but if you encounter a wild Garter snake it is more likely to try and defend itself with a musky emittance or else by using it’s harmless bite.

If you want to pick up a Garter Snake you could wear gloves to absorb the bite or pick it up in a way that it won’t be able to bite you.

Either way these snakes are relatively harmless.

If you want to pick up a Garter snake in the wild it is probably best to pick it up around the tail and keep a good distance so it can’t bite you


Check Out This Video Of How To Catch One Successfully.

Pros Of Having Garter Snakes Around Your House

Garter Snakes might not be everyone’s favourite creature to have around the house but they are effective at keeping rodents such as mice and rats away from your house which can pose a larger threat than our friendly, harmless and docile friends.

Garter Snakes might scare some people but there is not many cons to having them around and staying rodent and pest free is a big advantage for almost everybody.


How To Keep Garter Snakes Away From Your House And Yard

Despite their friendly and harmless nature, some people will not want these creatures around their house at all costs and there are plenty of things we can do to keep them away.


  1. Keep The Grass Short

Keeping the grass short is the most obvious thing we can do and it is also effective. Garter snakes will not make a home on short or artificial grass where they can be easily seen and will stay away from these yards in favour of better covering and protection elsewhere.


  1. Removes Piles Of Leaves And Bushes

The main trick if we don’t want Garter Snakes in our yard is to remove all of the places where they will make a home and find a habitat. These animals will like a lot of cover and if we remove anywhere for them to hide, hunt and sleep at night, we will have won half of the battle.


  1. Remove Any Sources Of Food

By keeping our garden in good condition we can also help to keep the Garter Snakes Food away and without food, they will have no reason or means to stay around your house.


  1. Use Snake Repellent

There are plenty of snake repellents we can use, with varying degrees of success to keep Garter Snakes away and it is all about finding a product that is actually going to work. There is nothing worse than getting false hope and then spotting Garter Snakes around your home anyway.

We found this high yield snake repellent on Amazon to be the most effective.

Check it out here:



  1. Use a top surface that doesn’t suit them

Using a surface like Lava rocks on your garden where these snakes will not be comfortable and can not borough into is likely to make these creatures not want to stay on your yard and move elsewhere where they can find better conditions.


  1. Kill Them Or Catch Them And Release

If all else fails you can always catch the snakes manually if you can find them or you can kill them if worst comes to worst.

Garter Snake traps are a solid way to get rid of them. Bait them onto the trap with food and you should be able to remove them easily once caught.


We found the Catch Master Glue Traps to be among the best.

Check them out here:



Where Do Garter Snakes Go At Night?

Garter Snakes are active during the day which is another reason they make such good pets. At night they like to sleep together undercover and in packs. You are likely to find them under large rocks or in the foundation of houses so making sure there is no where for them to sleep is another great way to ensure there is none around your house.



Garter Snakes are harmless creatures to humans, kids, dogs and cats alike. They can bite when they are cornered or antagonised but these are usually harmless apart from bacterial infections which may be caused in rare cases.

Garter Snakes also let off a musky smell when threatened and this can cause some minor harm to your pets if they lick or eat them.

All in all Garter snakes are harmless creatures that can be kept as pets and good for the landscape by keeping rodent numbers down.

Although some people might not like their appearance, they are friendly and docile animals who cause no harm or danger.