Garter snakes are one of the most common types of snakes in North America, and are often found in yards and gardens.
Many people also keep them as pets, but this leads us to the next question; can they cause you, your pets, or your kids any harm?
To answer this question, I’ve asked some experts as well as a few of my friends that own or have owned garter snakes in the past, and here is what I’ve found.
So, are garter snakes dangerous? Garter snakes are not dangerous because they are weak and not venomous. Garter or garden snakes are nonvenomous snakes but can be fairly aggressive when defending themselves, so they may bite you, your dog, or your cat, but a garter snake’s bite only causes mild irritation to humans and pets.
This answers the main question, but there are a lot more questions on the topic that you also need to know the answers of, for example; what actually happens if a garden snake bites your dog? are small dogs more vulnerable? is there a vaccination? how painful is the bite?
I’m going to answer all these questions in this article, so keep reading…
Are Garter Snakes Dangerous?
Garter snakes are not dangerous because their bites are too weak to cause any serious harm and they are non-venomous. This is also true of other garter snake breeds.
While some garter snakes have a toxic neurotoxin, it is not really dangerous to people at all. Localized mild swelling and itching might occur in the event of a garter snake bite. You should clean and disinfect the would using an antiseptic quite easily.
Garter snakes are not dangerous to humans. They are usually timid and will flee if given the chance, but they may give a warning bite in self-defense.
The bites are ordinarily harmless: their teeth are too small and weak for any serious damage (but this varies between species). A garter snake’s fangs might be long enough to break the skin, but are not likely to cause any major problems.
Are Garter Snakes dangerous to you?
Garter snakes are not dangerous to humans. They are docile, peaceful, habitual animals that are nonvenomous and have weak teeth and fangs, so they can’t hurt you, although caution is still required.
The mild disposition of domestic garter snakes makes them popular pets. Garter snakes are docile and miniature in size when they are born in captivity. They’re also simple to feed and keep. So if you are planning on having your first pet snake, a garter snake is a good choice.
Garter snakes have particularly large gums, which is one of their most distinctive features. Some species include a venomous chemical that is not immediately hazardous to humans. These garter snakes will utilize teeth to administer the poison on occasion, but they can also deliver the toxin via saliva.
There are no known fatalities due to garter snake bites, and there are only a few reports of serious injuries. However, any animal bite should be considered serious until proven otherwise.
Garter snakes are not dangerous to you because they are shy creatures that will try to avoid contact with humans whenever possible. If cornered or threatened, they may give a warning bite, but are not likely to cause any serious damage.
If a garter snake does actually bite you, you’ll probably only feel a little sting. You will only really know that you’ve been bitten by a garter snake when you see the swelling and the itchy sensation. In some very rare cases, people will have an allergic reaction to the bite, but this probably means you are just a very unlucky person.
The main danger of a garter snake’s bite
In case of a garter snake bite, the main cause for concern is not going to be the toxin or the pain, it’s actually going to be the infection. Snakes can carry harmful parasites and bacteria.
If a garter snake bites you, the first step is to thoroughly disinfect (and clean) the affected region. If you detect any symptoms of infection, get medical attention as soon if possible.
If a garter snake strikes and manages to bite you, it is doubtful that it will pierce your skin deeply. However, they may spray their musk on you.
What to do if a Garter Snake seriously bites you?
When removing a garter snake from your body, follow the procedures below if one was to sink its teeth deep enough to connect:
- Remove the snake’s teeth by gently pushing its head forward. This should remove at least some of the teeth from the skin.
- Remove the head. After ensuring you have removed all their teeth from your skin, go ahead and gently remove the snake’s head. Be careful to not harm either of you.
- Put the snake back in the tank: After removing the snake, put it back in its enclosure.
- Clean & disinfect the area. Use an antiseptic to clean and disinfect your wound. It’s a good idea to keep a couple of bottles of Antiseptic in the house anyway, I keep a stock of Bactine Max (Amazon link) in the house all the time, and you should do the same.
- Give your snake time to cool off and calm down. Leave your snake in its enclosure and don’t do anything for a few days. Give them food and let them just take the time to calm back down. Once you’re sure they’re back to their quiet normal self and you are too, you can pick it up again.
Are Garter Snakes dangerous to dogs?
Garter snakes are not dangerous to dogs, and the irritation your dog will feel from a Garter snake’s bite is going to be similar to what you feel, so it’s not much to worry about.
With that being said, although they are nonvenomous, the saliva in their mouths can transmit harmful bacteria to dogs if bitten.
The best way to prevent your dog from biting a garter snake is to never allow it near them alone. Keep in mind that dogs are intrigued by snakes and that dogs will often instinctively chase, hunt, and kill snakes.
If you are worried about your pet’s safety around snakes, keep him on a leash at all times when outside of the house so you can keep a close eye on them.
Are Garter Snakes dangerous to cats?
Garter snakes are not considered to be a danger to cats, but like dogs, if bitten by one, there is the potential for transmitting harmful bacteria from the snake’s mouth into the cat’s bloodstream.
If you have a cat that likes to spend time outside, the best thing you can do is keep it on a leash at all times and monitor their behavior closely.
How to avoid getting bitten by a Garter Snake?
Being aware of your surroundings is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from coming into contact with Garter Snakes. Areas, where they are likely to be found, are along the edges of gardens, near ponds or streams, and in wooded areas.
If you are going to be working in an area where Garter Snakes are known to live, it’s a good idea to wear long pants and sleeves and sturdy shoes. It’s also a good idea to shake out your clothing before you put it back on after working outside.
Are Garter Snakes dangerous to small dogs?
Garter snakes are not dangerous to small dogs, but small dogs are indeed more vulnerable to them because of their size and are more likely to be bitten if they harass or corner a snake.
There is no commercial vaccine available for garter snakes, so prevention boils down to being aware of their presence and keeping them out of reach.
This, of course, depends on the dog breed. For example, we can’t say that a terrier is as vulnerable to them as a Chihuahua, because terriers have been bred specially to hunt and kill rodents, and they are still considered one of the best dog breeds for killing snakes.
Are Garter Snakes dangerous to chickens?
Garter snakes are not considered to be dangerous for chickens, but are known predators of small rodents and birds. This means that they are more likely to come into contact with your chicken’s coop than anything else.
It is best to keep them out of the area around your chicken coops by fencing it off or putting up a snake-proof fence. If you are using a chicken tractor, make sure the bottom is completely enclosed so that snakes can’t crawl underneath.
If your chickens are free-ranging and come into contact with Garter Snakes, there’s not much you can do to prevent them from being bitten, but most snake bites are nonlethal. Just keep a close eye on them and if they start to act strange, take them to the vet.
Are Garter Snakes poisonous to eat?
Garter snakes are not poisonous to eat, but they are known carriers of harmful bacteria. It’s best if you avoid eating them.
Conclusion – Garter Snakes are Not dangerous
Garter snakes are not considered to be dangerous to humans, and although some species of garter snakes do produce venomous neurotoxins, they are mild and can’t kill humans or pets.
Although garter snakes do not pose a great risk or danger to you or your pet, it is always best to take some precautions when around them. Remember that they are predators and can bite if harassed and while their bites may not kill you, they may infect you with harmful bacteria.
If you are going to be working in an area where they live, wear protective clothing and shake out your clothes before putting them back on.
Keep small children and pets on leashes when outside. If your pet is bitten by a Garter Snake, take it to the vet immediately. Chickens are not considered to be in danger from Garter Snakes, but it’s best to keep them out of the area around your coop just to be safe.
Are Garter Snakes friendly?
Garter snakes are not typically aggressive, but they can bite if harassed. No snake can be considered friendly in general because snakes are solitary creatures and can not form bonds with humans, not even their owners.
Do cats kill garter snakes?
No, cats are not known to kill garter snakes, but they may play with them like they do with insects and small rodents.
What to do if my cat caught a garter snake?
If your cat catches a garter snake, it is best to recall your cat or distract it with food or toys. Cats are highly curious creatures and are likely more interested in examining or playing with the object than killing it (although that’s not impossible), but the snake may feel threatened and bite the cat.
Animal Facts: Common garter snake
Thamnophis sirtalis – Common Garter Snake
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