Notice: Constant WP_MEMORY_LIMIT already defined in /var/www/html/wp-config.php on line 136 How to Get Rid of Garter Snakes: Safe & Simple Methods

How to Get Rid of Garter Snakes: Detailed Identification & Removal Guide

Hi, I’m Nicholas. And just like any American gardener, I have to deal with garter snakes from time to time. Generally, these little snakes are harmless. Besides, they are super shy and will avoid you.

At the same time, garter snake infestation can be a nuisance. In autumn, they gather in huge colonies preparing for hibernation. And a snake swarm in your garden isn’t something you need. Mostly because of the foul stench they cause — their anal glands are remarkably stinky!

So, I will review my top 5 picks of snake traps and repellents. With them, you will disnakefy your garden without having to learn how to kill garden snakes. So, let’s banish the serpents from your garden once and for all!

How to Get Rid of Garter Snakes
  1. Remove Food Sources.
  2. Use Repellents & Traps.
  3. Deprive Them of a Possible Lair. Trim bushes and mow the lawn regularly. Also make sure there is no useless junk in your garden.
  4. Seal Your House. When the snakes are banished, inspect your house to spot any holes or crevices.

Garter Snake Identification Guide

common garter snake

Common garter snake

What Are Garter Snakes?

Garter snake is a bashful scaly guy who lives in every state: from Alaska to Florida. There’s a whole army of garter subspecies. But all of them share one identifying trait: three longitudinal stripes of yellow or green. One in the center of the spine, two at the bottom.

They can live basically anywhere — from grassy knolls to meadows. Your garden is an awesome residency, as well. It has plenty of ribbiting and six-legged food and water. Besides, there’s ample space to make a cozy lair.

Garter snakes can infest your garden quickly. Reasons on why to keep garter snakes out of your yard include:

  • They smell awful.
  • They kill earthworms and toads.
  • They can form a colony under your porch/house.

Just like skunks, they emit a stinky musk. Now imagine a cohort of serpents spreading a potent stench throughout your garden. And it won’t go away until you repel the critters for good.

Garter Snake vs. Ribbon Snake

Garters and Ribbons are cousins. They belong to the same family of Thamnophis. However, ribbon snakes have:

  • long tail;
  • smaller head;
  • different stripe pattern;
  • white spot in front of each eye;
  • thinner body unlike their ‘chubbier’ cousins.

As for the rest, ribbons snakes do not differ much. They are as harmless as garter snakes, have basically the same habits and also will try to scare you away with an unbearable smell.

Eastern ribbon snake

What Do Garter Snakes Eat?

Often they can be a blessing to your garden because of the diet. They exterminate rodents, leeches, grasshoppers and even Arion rufus slugs — those nasty gastropods who damage your plants, making the garden look uglier.

At the same time, a garter sneky wouldn’t mind feasting on a runaway hamster or Guinea pig. Baby chickens are also a delicacy to them. So, if you decide to build a hen house, banishing snakes first is a total must.

Are Garter Snakes Dangerous?

Garter snakes aren’t dangerous at all. They can’t poison you or hurt any of your pets with a size of at least a cat. Though, it’s now known that their saliva has a bit of neurotoxin. But it’s so weak, it can immobilize a pickerel frog or a cotton mouse at best.

Signs of Garter Snakes Infestation


These four signs indicate that you have a garter snake in the house:

  • Slither tracks. Dust, sand, earth, foliage — they can ‘record’ that a scaly intruder slithered by some time ago.
  • Effluence. It looks like the bird dropping but may include skin, hair and feathers of their prey.
  • Skin. As a garter grows, it sheds skin. Inspect wall entrances of your house for it.
  • Smell. Garters have a strong odor. If you can sense some abnormal smell near the crawlspace, porch, etc. — snakes are near.

How to Get Rid of Garter Snakes


Step 1: Remove Food Sources

Your garden is like a buffet for them. Make sure there’s nothing that could evoke their appetite: chicken eggs, worms prepared as fishing bait, etc. Garters tend to have mouse safari every now and then. So, if you can — banish the mice from your house too.

Step 2: Use Repellents & Traps

To drive the snakes away, use a repelling agent. It can be:


This is the most often used remedy and you’ll find it in basically every repellent’s formula. It scares both moth and snakes away — the latter lose their sensory abilities because of the chemical. It’s nontoxic, but has an unpleasant smell.


Patches of lemongrass a.k.a. Cymbopogon, if planted on the perimeter of your garden, can keep the snakes at bay. Downside: it’ll take some time to grow this ‘fence’.


Snakes are allergic to it. Perhaps, due to the strong smell and vitamin C excess. Homemade garlic spray will make them abandon their lair.


Another strong-smelling chemical, it irritates the garters. But in pure form, it can damage your soil and attract birds. In factory-made repellents, its nastiness is counterbalanced with oils and other softeners.

Essential oils

These can also keep the invasion at bay. But only for a short time, as their odor fades away quickly.

Remember: snake repellents can only be applied outside the house.

If a serpent takes up residency in your home/garage, then it’s a job for a snake trap. There are three types:


Used for catching tiny fishies, it’s also a great anti-snake solution. Its funnel shape allows a snake to get in easily. But getting out is impossible.


It has a rotatable channel inside. As the snake slithers into the trap, it won’t be able to escape it due to the trap’s narrowness. It also has a removable top.


A glue trap, possibly lethal to small pets, is just a piece of cardboard with glue. It’s the fastest solution for indoors. And to ‘unstick’ a snake, you’ll need a bit of vegetable oil to melt the adhesive.

glue snake trap

Step 3: Deprive Them of a Possible Lair

Just like guerrillas, garter snakes hide in the bushes. Trim the bushes and regularly maw the lawn, so they lose their well-camouflaged shelter. Also, make sure there’s no useless junk in your garden — old rusty buckets, cardboard boxes, a decrepit armchair, etc. Garters can hide in there too.

Step 4: Seal Your House

And now the final step. When the snakes are banished, inspect your house to spot any holes or crevices. Garters can return and use them as catacombs. If you find any, seal them up asap.

Top 5 Garter Snakes Treatments

Now, let’s review the products that do a mighty job at banishing the scaly hooligans.

1. Frabill 1271 Fishing Equipment Nets & Traps: Humane Garter Snake Trap


  • Material: Sturdy Vinyl Dipped Steel
  • Size: One Size
  • Item Weight: ‎1.05 Pounds
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH: ‎9.45 x 9.41 x 9.06 inches
  • Target Species: Snakes

How to get rid of garter snakes in yard without killing them? Frabill is an answer. Designed for fish, this trap can handle the slithery catch as well. It’s made from a sturdy, galvanized metal and has a nice layer of thick vinyl coating.

Frabill 1271 Fishing Equipment Nets & Traps

The snake enters the trap through a 1-inch diameter hole. After the scaly perpetrator’s inside, the trap imprisons it. Thanks to the secure spring clip, the snake won’t leave the improvised prison.

Torpedo shape is great for capturing a grown specimen — adult garter snakes can be 137 cm tall. So, simply place a bait — like a chicken egg — and check the trap the next morning. Besides, it has no ‘cruel’ components that can kill a critter. So, if you’re worried about your karma or local wild faun laws — this trap is a marvelous choice.

Additionally, it can be repurposed for catching minnows. I also like the black color, as it provides more camouflage — shinier silver traps instantly attract attention. My personal top garter snake trap.

  • cruelty-free;
  • very sturdy construction;
  • black color for camouflage;
  • torpedo shape;
  • easy to assemble.
  • no mechanism to hang a bait.

2. Victor VP364B: Granules That Repel Garter Snakes


  • Active Ingredients: Naphthalene (7%), Sulfur (28%)
  • Item Form: Granules
  • Item Weight: ‎4.15 pounds
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH: 3.3 x 8.4 x 12 inches
  • Target Species: Snakes

How to keep garter snakes away after you’ve successfully banished them? Repellent granules are the best solution. Victor repellent, thanks to its formula, disrupts the sensory abilities of the garter snakes.

Victor VP364B Snake-A-Way Outdoor Snake Repelling Granules 4LB

Once they feel dazed and confused, they prefer leaving the ‘paranormal’ area for good. You can protect your garden/animal yard with it by securing the perimeter with the repellent. The package is a fatty one — 4 lb of this stuff will last for 3 months and can desnekify a 4 acre territory.

So, if you’ve been wondering how to get rid of garter snakes nest — it’s a good remedy. The one downside I noticed is a distinct smell of sulfur. But that’s what scares the snakes away: garters, copperheads, cottonmouths and other venomous/non-venomous serpents.

  • works effectively;
  • resealable bag;
  • lasts for up to 3 months;
  • enough for 5 acres;
  • no snake species is immune to it.
  • sulfur smell;
  • may attract birds.

3. Snake Defense Natural Snake Repellent: The Best Garter Snakes Repellent Spray


  • Scent: Cinnamon
  • Item Form: Spray
  • Item Weight: ‎8.69 pounds
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH: 11.3 x 9.25 x 6.14 inches
  • Target Species: Copperheads, Rattlesnakes, Grass Snakes, Water Moccasins and many other Venomous and Non-Venomous Snakes

Another snake repellent, Snake Defense is actually a spray. That’s the safe remedy I’d recommend using inside the house: basement, crawlspace, bathroom, etc. The thing is, it doesn’t have a strong chemical smell that’ll give you vertigo 5 minutes later.

On the contrary, it has a soft, somewhat spicy odor. It scares away both venomous and harmless snakes for a long time (if not forever). We have 1 gallon of the anti-serpent goodness, which is enough to disinfest your basement, garage and mailbox.

As it contains only natural components — mostly clove and peppermint oils — it’s safe for your own pets. As well as kids. So, if a scaly intruder is spotted inside the house, I would trust my buck to the Snake Defense.

  • not dangerous for pets & children;
  • no artificial chemicals;
  • nonagressive odor;
  • longlasting effect;
  • safe to use inside the house.
  • one gallon isn’t probably enough for the whole garden.

4. Mole Repellent, 2 Pack Solar Powered Mole Repellent: Prevent Garter Snake Infestation in the Future


  • Material: Plastic
  • Number of Pieces: 12
  • Item Weight: ‎8 ounces
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH: 3.85 x 0.5 x 0.43 inches
  • Target Species: Cockroach, Cricket, Mouse, Rat, Snake, Spider

This item looks like a sci-fi wonder. It promises to banish all vermin, including snakes, from your property. It’s possible thanks to the ultrasonic sound waves the gadget emits.

Catchmaster Baited Rat, Mouse and Snake Glue Traps - 12 Glue Trays

Snakes don’t care about the sounds. But they negatively react to the sound vibrations that disturb the soil. (This principle was shown in the Simpsons). And as you know, garter snakes are shysters who are easily scared by any vibrations.

What I like is that this repellent needs no cables. It gets power from conversing the sunlight. Which is friendly to ecology and your electricity bill. But the device isn’t water-proof, so watch out for rain. Besides, the signal it emits can be heard by you. (Although it’s not too loud).

  • humane repellent;
  • gets powered by sunlight;
  • easy to assemble;
  • drives a variety of critters away.
  • not waterproof;
  • may attract curious dogs.

5. Catchmaster Baited Rat, Mouse and Snake Glue Traps: A Solid Garter Snake Trap for a Small Price

No products found.

How to catch a garter snake within an hour? A glue trap to the rescue. But I’d recommend it only as the last remedy to use. Especially if you need super quick results. Once a snake is caught, there’s a 50% chance it will die. Catchmaster doesn’t kill instantly but isn’t a humane trap.

It’s characterized as a disposable device. And rightfully so: there’s just 12 glue trays in the package. Enough to catch a whole swarm of them. But only if your snake problem is sporadic. In case you deal with them regularly, a re-usable trap would be a better choice.

There’s a neat feature about the gadget. It can be folded into tunnel shape. This is extremely helpful if you need to place it in some limited space: crawlspace, mailbox, some crevice in the house foundation, etc.

But the snake hunt will require a bit of preparation. To let the Catchmaster do its job, you need to study the snake’s route. Investigate which path the vermin takes. Then place the trap right on it.

The trap seems to be relatively harmless to domestic pets. At least bigger animals will sure be safe. But if you have a hamster who also dabbles as an escape artist, make sure it doesn’t get ensnared — this may be its death sentence. (Due to suffocation).

I also wouldn’t recommend putting the trap outside. It was designed to be placed under the kitchen sink and other similar locations. If you place it in your garden, it may put birds or squirrels to certain danger.

All in all, it’s a solid trap for a small price. I wouldn’t usually apply it myself, as I avoid killing animals. But if you think a snake’s presence seriously threatens you and your family or you just have an uncontrollable phobia — Catchmaster is there to aid you.

  • safe for big pets;
  • good for a quick catch;
  • can be placed basically anywhere;
  • foldable.
  • a snake can die;
  • small pets can be at risk.

How to Prevent Garter Snakes in the Future?

Garters may return some time after you banish them. The only way to get rid of them forever is to get rid of your garden, which is not an option, of course. Another method would need to employ a yellow mongoose.

The most practical way is using special substances that repel garter snakes. I will review some repellents that will keep our serpent rascals at bay without damaging the ecological balance in your garden.


Snake at yard

Do Garden Snakes Have Teeth?

Some subspecies do, others don’t. Their teeth are small and sharp, with a set of tiny fangs located in the back of the mouth.

Do Garter Snakes Bite?

Yes. The worst thing a garter can do — apart from spraying the stinky liquid all over your hands — is biting you. It’s a mildly painful nip that may itch for some time. It’s not lethal by any means. Just disinfect it with chlorhexidine, alcohol or any other safe antiseptic.

Do Garter Snakes Eat Mice?

Yes, small rodents are on their menu. This is why some gardeners actually don’t mind having garters on their property.

Are Garter Snakes Poisonous?

Their saliva contains a tiny amount of neurotoxin, possibly tetrodotoxin. But it’s so microscopic, it’s useless against a grown cat, small dog or rooster.

Where Do Garter Snakes Hide in a House?

Generally, snakes prefer staying away from your dwelling. But still, how do garter snakes get in the house? They usually infiltrate the basement, house foundation and basically any part of the building that has holes and crevices. Inspecting under the porch is also a wise idea.

Guarding the Garden From the Garters

I hope my today’s guide will help you succeed with your anti-snake campaign. Remember: these scaly rascals mean no harm and can even save your garden from the overpopulation of pests.

So stick to humane remedies, use the glue traps only in case of emergency and let the snake return to the wild after it’s been caught. In most cases, a snake repellent will be enough to drive a shy garter snake away.

And what is your top remedy against the garter snakes? How did you evict them from your garden, garage or basement? Let us know in the comments!


  • Thamnophis sirtalis (The Pennsylvania State University):
  • Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus) (Savannah River Ecology Laboratory University of Georgia):
  • Common Garter Snake Thamnophis sirtalis (by B. Donovan and N.Allen – Oregon State University):
  • Snakes slither through the garden eating slugs, grubs and other pests (Oregon State University):


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Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

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