What Do Garden (Garter) Snakes Eat?
A super high level summary of what do garden snakes eat is that they will eat ANYTHING that they can easily overpower. They basically have no dislikes or likes.
It is also important to note that people like to call these snakes a variety of names which include: garter, gardener and garden snakes. Therefore what they eat is the same no matter which name you choice to use for this type of snake.
Just like all other snakes they are carnivores and therefore only eat meat and they are opportunities feeders. What this means is that they will eat what they can easily find and catch.
For the most part they enjoy catching live prey and they will even eat toads as they are immune to their toxic skin.
When live prey is not easily found they will also feed on carrion and eggs.
Here is a common list of things a garden (garter) snake enjoys to eat on a regular basis:
- Small Birds
- Rabbits, Mice (other small rodents)
- Slugs & Snails
- Frog spawn, frogs and tadpoles
- Ants & other insects
- Small Reptiles (ex: lizards)
Garden snakes love to hunt during the early evening, late afternoon and early mornings when the temperature is generally warmer. They use their great sense of smell to find their prey.
In order for garden snakes to catch their prey they will use a variety of hunting tactics such as craning and peering and ambush.
Their prey will be stopped in their tracks by their quick reflexes and sharp teeth. Some of their small prey can be affected by the slightly toxic saliva garden snakes have in their teeth.
If a garden snake can it will immediately swallow its live prey whole otherwise it will unhinge its jaw and slowly swallow larger prey. Since they have the ability to unlock their jaw they have a large variety of prey they can swallow.
The great thing about garden snakes is that for the most part they are harmless to humans and therefore make great pets. However if you have small children in the house it is best to avoid owning a garter/garden snake as they can bite kids if not properly handled. It is usually very rare a child will know how to properly handle a garden snake and therefore it is just a bad idea overall.