Snakes on the homestead

There was a lovely garden snake that was heading towards my chicken yard this morning and as the chickens would have been hunting it hard and fast. It seemed like a good idea to catch this pretty babe and move it across the garden an release it in the front garden.

Garden snakes feed on the plentiful small creatures that abound in their habitats: grasshoppers, worms, small birds, mice, leeches, tadpoles, insects, toads, fish and frogs. They are called “opportunistic hunters” because they will attack prey if it travels within it’s striking distance. I like that our land is healthy enough to support Garter Snakes.

The garter snakes of Canada total six species, ranging from 45-97 cm long. They are olive brown to black, with yellow, orange or red stripes running horizontally down the body.   These small snakes are found from Vancouver Island to the Maritimes, north into the Northwest Territories, and are absent only from Newfoundland.

They live in a wide variety of habitats, but are generally found near water.These snakes have no venom, but many species vibrate their tail in dry vegetation to imitate the sound made by rattlesnakes.

All species have a common defence mechanism of releasing a foul smelling scent from their anal glands near the base of the tail. They may bite if handled, but are harmless. Garter snakes are active during the day, and may often be seen basking during the early morning hours.

We also have Red Belly Snakes, they are smaller but they are also wonderful little hunters in my gardens and wilder areas. We are lucky because both are harmless to both our livestock and ourselves.

Do you have snakes on your homestead, are they friend or foe?

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5 Responses to Snakes on the homestead

  1. bluestempond says:

    Was that photo of you, holding the snake?

  2. valbjerke says:

    We have garter snakes (at least that’s what I’ve always called them). Don’t see them all that often – but they like shady areas where they won’t get disturbed. Down south (okanagan) we had rattle snakes and bull snakes. Not a big fan of hiking in rattler country.

    • I had a few run in with ratters in the badlands of alberta so I have to admit that I am not found of them either but ideally when possible they will give warning. Never been bite, but had a family dog get bite.. It was a sad day that’s for sure.

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