What Garden Snakes Eat & How They Help Your Garden

Think twice before getting rid of the snakes in your garden — they're busy munching on pests to keep them in check.

Updated February 3, 2024
garden snake in the grass

Personally, I love snakes, but many people can't say the same. Whether you like them or not, they play a beneficial role in your garden's ecosystem (if you want to keep your plants, anyway). This might make you wonder — what do garden snakes eat? They must eat something that would destroy our garden plants if they could help them grow, right? Absolutely. Check out the critters they're known for chowing down on.

Grazing Grasshoppers 

Garden snakes are like nature's little snackers, chowing down on grasshoppers, which is awesome news for us garden lovers. Why? Because grasshoppers are the ultimate plant munchers. They've got appetites that could rival a teenager's, and if you're hoping to save some of your garden beauties for an indoor vase, you'll want these little green gobblers out of the picture.

With over 100 types of grasshoppers hopping around, they're not picky eaters. Sure, some are kind enough to stick to weeds and grasses we hardly care about, but then there are the gourmet types that go straight for the good stuff — your lettuce, carrots, beans, corn, and even those fancy perennials you're so proud of. So, if you see a garden snake, maybe whisper a little thank you for keeping those leafy-lovers in check!

Munchy Mice

For all you garden enthusiasts and homeowners out there who aren't exactly fans of hosting mouse parties in your backyard, here's a bit of cheerful news: garden snakes are your furry little freeloaders' natural nemesis! These slinky garden guardians glide through the grass with one mission in mind: seeking out their next snack. And if a mouse scurries by, well, let's just say it's about to star in a real-life game of snake and mouse.

Need to Know

As long as the snake can fit their mouth around it, they'll eat any other rodents they find, too. 

Scavenging Snails

Snails are one of my absolute favorite creatures. Seriously, have you ever seen them up close? They're fascinating. Unfortunately, they like some of the same foods we do, which means we are kind of in competition with them in our gardens. They'll happily mow down our cucumber, carrot, and lettuce plants. The snakes in our garden won't get rid of all of them, but they can seriously cut down on how many there are, saving us some of our garden goodies.

Silent Slugs

Even though slugs are important to our ecosystem (like all the other critters on the list), they can wreak havoc on our beautiful gardens. There are some ways to get rid of slugs yourself, but the snakes in your garden can gobble them up and keep your garden safe without you lifting a finger. 

Astounding Amphibians

Frogs, toads, and salamanders eat the bugs that treat our gardens as their personal buffet. They basically help out the snakes in our garden, which makes gardeners think twice about getting rid of these guys. By welcoming this diverse group of critters, you're essentially assembling a natural pest management team.

Each member plays a crucial role in keeping the unwanted bug population in check (and the snakes will keep the amphibian population in check). So, before you consider shooing away those slithering snakes, remember that they, along with their amphibian and reptile counterparts, form an eco-friendly squad designed to protect your garden.

RELATED: Fascinating Facts That'll Change How You See Garden Snakes

Wiggly Worms

Young garden snakes eat worms until they are big enough to eat larger prey. We can't get rid of the worms or really increase their population either, but knowing they're in the dirt for our baby garden snakes to eat can give us some comfort if we're hoping to keep them around. 

Need to Know

Adult snakes will eat the baby snakes if they find them in the garden.

All the Things That Feed Garden Snakes

Garden snakes, also known as gartner or garter snakes, can actually help your garden by eating pests, which reduces the need for chemicals. Typically, they hunt in the early morning, late afternoon, and early in the evening. If you do choose to get rid of garden snakes, please do so humanely. They're an important part of our ecosystem, and they deserve care and respect just as any other animal does, even if they're not your favorite critter.

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What Garden Snakes Eat & How They Help Your Garden