Snake in Ottawa garden

northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)August 1, 2010

Welcome August!! This morning the first thing I saw in my garden was a ground hog feasting himself on my Swiss Chard and as I ventured off the deck after that critter I spotted a snake, head protroding from my veggie garden into the grass. I stopped, grabbed my camera and got a shot, but of course he disappeared back into the vegetation. This is not a very good shot, but he seems to be black with a yellow belly. I have been scouring the Internet for a couple of hours trying to identify it. Can anyone tell me what it is and if it is venomous? I hate snakes and am afraid of them. I am not squeamish and will squish all matter of insects, earwigs and even slugs with my bare hands, but snakes are a different matter. I have been gardening in Ottawa for over 40 years, 27 in this location and I have never seen a snake. I would like it to go away - what has attracted it to my garden is a mystery, so an ID would be appreciated. Thank you.


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rosco_p(z6a ont.canada)

Northener:I am not a snake expert by any means but your friend looks like a common Garter snake to me. Ross.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 3:22PM
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I agree with Ross, A garter snake. If I were you I'd encourage him to stick around. He was in your garden looking for bugs.

Garter snakes and toads are gardener's friends. They eat the nasty bugs that like to eat our produce.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 4:28AM
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green_thumb_guy(Z5 Ont)

The only Venomous snake we have in Canada is the Massassauga Rattlesnake. It is endangered and it's range is more towards cottage country.

Don't worry.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 8:37AM
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DrHorticulture_(Z3 Central Saskatchewan)

Please don't fear snakes. He/she is just looking for a snack. Snakes are gardeners' friends.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 4:34PM
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That statement is not fully correct - there's the Western Rattlesnake out here.

And I agree, that's a garter snake. Our resident one has been busy this year, startling me at least two times.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 9:12PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Thank you everyone for your re-assurances, but I have always hated and been afraid of snakes, not having had the opportunity of growing up with them. My husband comes from snake country, and has told me all sorts of frightening stories (true) about confronting poisonous and other threatening snakes as a child.

I have been avoiding that part of the garden all week, but today I ventured out having convinced myself (by internet id) that it is a garter snake, but I am still afraid that I accidentally step on it and it lashes out at me. Incidentally, my husband saw it yesterday so I know it is there. I was also fearful that it was a venemous or harmful snake that had been bought as a pet and 'got away' from its owners. The reason that I hope it goes away is that I have invested in some small frogs/toads in my garden to help with the slugs. This snake was in the area where I have seen some frogs and I fear he has eaten them. I like the little frogs and they have done an excellent job with the eastern side of my garden - pristine hostas for the first time. There are some angry dogs next door (on vacation right now), a ground hog has taken up residence cheating me of lots of my veggies, a skunk makes a pass through the garden each night, and the feral cats are always in my flower beds at night, so he may not stick around too long. Now that the rains are here, I'll see if he does a good job with the slugs!!
Thanks all.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 7:23PM
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green_thumb_guy(Z5 Ont)


you are absolutely correct. I have worked with the Eastern Massassauga rattlesnake and completely forgot about the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake too. Too often, I talk to people in Ontario about the EMR and tend to forget to include those in BC. I didn't even think of the Western rattlesnake.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 9:13PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

Too bad they didn't eat groundhogs, eh? LOL We have them around here and i see them occasionally. Snakes don't bother me but my husband hates them.

When my youngest was about 3, he found a snake in the garden and started carrying it around by its tail end. It hung down with its head up, forming a J shape, so he decided to call it Hooker! LOL

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 10:11AM
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I think it's rather nice to have a garter snake in the garden. Sorry to say I mostly have snails and cutter bees and bumble bees. Sometimes a raccoon drops by. Robins and cardinals are always around. How do you attract garter snakes into a garden?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 10:47PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I can't imagine anyone wanting a snake in their garden, Yugoslava, since I dislike and fear them. However, I can't give you any help on attracting them - I would want the exact opposite. We have not seen our garden snake for a few weeks now. There were 3 sightings, first by me, then by my husband, and by me again as I was going into my daylily patch to remove an Iris which somehow got in there. I guess it sensed me coming and actually hurled itself up and over the daylilies and slithered toward the fence and the neighbour's yard. Since then, our next door neighbours have returned from vacation and so have their dogs, which venture into our yard sometimes. I think they scared the snake away so I have been back at work in the garden again. I hope it stays that way.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 11:29AM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

This afternoon, i was sitting on the deck steps and noticed a large garter snake just below in a bed on the side of the deck. A few minutes later, i walked down past the spot and took another look. At first i didn't see it, but then saw it kind of inching backwards, which was weird. But then i saw that it had a toad in its mouth, darn thing! I like toads! >:(

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 8:40PM
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I saw my first garter snake of the year cutting the lawn last wednesday. It zoomed into a flower bed and under a hosta pretty quickly as I approached. I don't like them either and was glad I was riding on the mower! I wish they would eat spiders as I have seen hundreds of huge ones all over my property in the last week especially on the finished daylily scapes. There are webs everywhere. Yuck!!!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 9:42AM
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I wouldn't want dangerous snakes but a garter snake is a mild mannered little snake.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 12:10AM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Weel, I think the snake has left my garden. There hasn't been a sighting in about 3 weeks and I have been gardening in all areas. I do believe he ate all my frogs, though, because the slugs have been at work again. This is not the time of the year I like to 'slug patrol' but I will probably have to do it again - my peppers are have leaves like doilies again.

Swontgirl, you shouldn't bother about the spiders. They are gardening friends. If you gently move the webs away, they will go elsewhere.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 2:31AM
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On the subject of snakes (garter snakes that is) I wish I had some. This spring we had so much rain there are snails everywhere. Climbing up a brick wall to second floor and clinging to window glass. I should explain when I was much younger I disliked snakes, snails, worms. Not anymore, I appreciate their presence.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 12:06PM
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I have been bitten by a (captive) 5' Burmese was not as bad as it sounds. Startling, yes, but less painful then weeding a cactus bed or grabbing a rose cane. A garter snake is not even going to register, save for your surprise. I have never known a garter snake to bite unless it is experiencing pain (like stepping on it) and sympathize greatly for an animal that is clearly in distress.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 10:13PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Smivies: what an unfortuate meeting with a python!! Just the thought of it gives me the creeps. I have not seen the snake so far this year, and I have been in all areas of the garden. Perhaps they have not awakened yet. In the fall, I unwrapped a gourd and a baby snake came out of the paper wrapping. Really scared me. So I expected to see some more this year, but there are more dogs next door, and they are really vocal and sometimes come in my yard at night. So maybe they have left.

Yugoslava, I am wondering what kind of snails you have in your area. A friend in Montreal has a invasion of rather large snails. I have seen the odd one, but they are very small and easily crushed between the fingers. The slugs have not yet come out, but something has been about while I was away for a few days - my bush beans are all eaten off. I hope it's not a rabbit. They destroyed my husbands neat rows of lettuce a few years ago. He has not grown any since.
Happy summer, everyone!!!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 8:19AM
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