Encountering a snake in the garden is usually the last thing a gardener wants. Even if it’s non-venomous, people tend to shy away from these creepy crawlies or drive them off for fear or being bitten. Toads are no different and although they aren’t as notorious as snakes, not many people find the appeal of having a lumpy amphibian hopping around their garden.
Despite their notoriety, these two can actually be beneficial to the garden as a more natural form of pest control.
The presence of a snake in the garden is a good indicator that your greenery may not exactly be free from pests. It’s prime hunting ground for these slithering creatures, and they usually prey on a wide variety of pests. The common garter snake, as its name suggests, is probably what you’ll encounter in your garden most of the time. They don’t grow that big and you can easily identify them if they have three yellow stripes running along their back.
They usually prey on small insects, such as caterpillars, sow bugs, and slugs. These three are some of the most common garden pests and can wreak havoc on your plants if there’s nothing preying on them. Although you may argue that ladybugs do the job well enough and are not as imposing as a slithering snake, there’s one thing a snake does better: hunt rodents.
Rodents like meadow voles areclassified as garden pests, but they are notorious for nibbling on roots, tubers, and barks. Keeping a large garter snake dissuades these rodents from living in your garden, preventing damage to your plants and decorations.
Toads are indeed terrible, but only to garden pests. The American Toad is the most common and they are capable of devouring three times their own weight in insects. A single American Toad can eat up to one hundred insects in just one night, which makes them a very effective form of pest control if you want to stay away from pesticides and chemicals. It would be silly to list what kind of pests they eat since these amphibians tend to eat everything so long as they fit in their mouth.
If you want to attract these creatures to your garden, you need to make ‘living spaces’ for them. For snakes, you’ll want to fill your garden with loose rock piles and old tree stumps where they can make bask and live in respectively. For toads, anything that provides shade from the sun will serve as the ideal home for these big eaters. An upside down plant pot, preferably made of clay, makes a great Toad Hall as the clay tends to absorb rainwater and cool the interior. Being amphibians, it’s also a good idea to have a small pool of water where they can cool down.
The next time you see a snake or toad in your garden, don’t drive them away. You’ll find that keeping them is more beneficial as they’ll help you take care of pests without resorting to pesticide and other chemicals.