Are Black rat snakes good for a garden?

lsst(7b)April 18, 2010

I almost ran into two black rat snakes while walking in the woods near my gardens.

I at first thought they were rattlers as one vibrated its tail at me. Thank heavens they were not!

Are they beneficial to the garden or a pest?

Also, does anyone know if they like to sun themselves near ponds or if they will try to eat my fish? I read they like to eat frogs.

Thanks in advance!

Here is a pic of the smaller one.

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They will eat rodents such as voles and won't hurt your plants so I would say they are good for your garden. I don't know about the fish.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 3:51PM
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We are building a chicken coop and I will have to watch out for them.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 5:30PM
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Oh, they will eat eggs too. We had one get in our coop until we found the very small hole at the top of the coop that it was getting in through. I thought my chickens just weren't laying until a saw the snake curled up in the corner one day.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 5:47PM
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Having black snakes around should beifit your garden from the amount of rodents they eat, but they will raid bird nests too. I lightly wipe down the post of the bluebird box with a rag of used motor oil/gas to mask the odor of the birds to keep them safe til they fledge. They may take an occasionally frog but your fish should be safe. I also have them take a few chicken eggs and have found three dead chickens over 15 years with their head and necks all slimy from the snake trying to swallow them.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 8:05PM
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And.. they eat other snake eggs and snakes which may help with keeping out the ones you don't want to run into.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 3:05PM
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Would they eat a poisonous snake's eggs. I hope so!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 3:36PM
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    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 9:08PM
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If the green link to a commercial appears, I did not do that, GW did themselves. I do not endorse any advertising in my posts...FYI, poisonous snakes in the Carolinas do not lay eggs. They keep the eggs inside their bodies until they hatch and are "born". King snakes eat other snakes, Rat snakes rarely do. Kings, which are usually black and white, love copperheads for dinner. They are also less aggressive than the Black Rat snakes. I have seen a King take down a copperhead bigger than itself and try to eat it while leaving a mouse alone. Needless to say, the King had to give up on the meal..yuk. BTW, I am a zoologist.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 6:19PM
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Is the rat snake a good snake to have or a bad snake to have live near you?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 11:09PM
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While I couldn't tell you if they are on the menu for either king or rat snakes, coral snakes do lay eggs. We have them all over here and they are not particularly shy but if you stomp the ground they head in a different direction. Regardless, it isn't going to hurt anything to let it hang out. They are absolutely beautiful and I love having them around. My biggest worry is whether or not one of my neighbors is going to freak out and kill them. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. We see them quite a bit during the day in the spring but less and less the hotter it gets and even then it is mostly in the evening after it starts to cool off.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 1:01AM
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My snake really gets around! I found out tonight he scared the death out of my neighbor.

She walks every morning and he slithered out of the woods and across the road in front of her!

We compared notes and because of his large size, we are sure it is the same one.

The funny thing is he is as scared of us as we are of him!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 3:47AM
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Yes, snakes are good for your garden! And good for the earth. Eating rodents like voles is my favorite thing they do. They will raid a bluebird nest, however, so be sure and put a snake-guard on your nesting boxes. Very inexpensive thing made of wire-cloth at any bird store. I found my resident black rat snake halfway up my bluebird box pole this week. I had forgotten my regular chore of wiping down the pole with used motor oil. I'm told the scent puts them off. We're alll so concerned about being natural and green- and yet I'm surprised at the number of folks who kill snakes without concern. Not very green.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 7:43AM
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My bad, I always forget about the Coral snakes! Here in the central Piedmont, we don't have those and not being a native, I just don't connect the corals with the area.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 8:27AM
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First of all, I live and let live. I make an exception if something is in my yard that will hurt my family.
We have about 6 acres of land and if a snake is no threat then it is left alone.
If it is poisonous and is within 30 feet of our house I then take care of it.
I do not want my children to be bitten by a poisonous snake.
We have numerous copperheads near our house. I do kill those.
The black rat snake mimicked a rattler. It raised and shook it's tail and rustled the leaves making a rattler sound. I thought it was a rattler til I did a search and found out rattlers are not black. I then researched and discovered that a black rat snake mimics a rattler when threatened.
Now that I now he is not a threat, we will coexist.
I have numerous bluebirds that have their own nests in the bushes. ( no man made house) I am sad to say the snake has probably eaten their eggs.
While I am sad he is probably eating my favorite birds, I have no issue with him unless he tries to bite one of us.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 7:15PM
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