5 Snakes You Actually Want in Your Backyard — And Why!

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Updated: June 10, 2023
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For many people, the thought of having a snake in your backyard could have you running for the hills. Fortunately, there are good snakes out there that are beneficial to have in your yard. This would be for reasons like controlling pests such as insects and rodents that are invading your garden. They are even useful for other, more dangerous snakes that are trying to get into your yard. So, what kind of good snakes are these? Let’s read and find out!

Snakes That Are Welcome in Your Yard

1. Garter Snakes


Garter snakes live off worms, insects, and amphibians such as frogs.

©Colby Hess/Shutterstock.com

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Garter snakes are typically harmless medium-sized snakes that belong to the Colubridae family. They are native to both North and Central America and are the most common snakes found in gardens and yards. They’re also called grass snakes and are distinguished by 1 or 3 long, yellow-to-red stripes that are often checkered. They are roughly about 39 inches long.

Garter snakes live off worms, insects, and amphibians such as frogs. So, if you’re struggling to sleep with the sounds of all the frogs in your backyard, these snakes are great to have around! Although they are usually harmless, some of them have a rear fang that contains a small bit of venom to kill their prey.

2. Gopher Snakes

Best Pet Snakes

The gopher snake is commonly misidentified as a


because of its markings and defensive behavior.

©Creeping Things/Shutterstock.com

Gopher snakes are also non-venomous snakes belonging to the Colubridae family. Although these snakes have patterns that often are confused with rattlesnakes, they are typically docile and usually do not pose a threat to humans. They are long and muscular snakes that survive off rodents and do splendid work at keeping infestations at bay.

Gopher snakes are carnivorous snakes and usually eat rabbits, rats, mice, and other small mammals. They will occasionally hunt lizards and frogs and even bats at times. So, if you have a garden that you’ve been working tirelessly on and it is continuously being eaten by pests, these snakes are great to have around.

3. King Snakes

Western Milksnake

The diet of king snakes is composed of lizards, frogs, rodents, and other pests.

©Matt Jeppson/Shutterstock.com

King snakes are snakes that are a part of the New World of the Colubridae family. Included in these species are the common milk snakes. They are non-venomous but have patterns that are like coral snakes, which are venomous. Be sure to distinguish the red, white, and black scales of the scarlet king snake to make sure that you don’t have a poisonous creature living in your yard. Although they are constrictors and do not pose a threat to humans, they tend to bite when threatened.

The diet of king snakes is composed of lizards, frogs, rodents, and other pests. These snakes are also known to eat other venomous snakes such as copperheads and rattlesnakes! They really are a huge help to the balance of our ecosystem.

4. Rat Snakes

Rat snakes are medium to large constrictors that feed primarily on rodents.


The rat snake is part of the same Colubridae family as the snakes mentioned above. It is primarily found in the northern hemisphere. Rat snakes are medium to large constrictors that feed primarily on rodents. If there is a rodent issue on your land and you’ve spotted one of these, you might save some money on pest control!

Other common species of rat snakes are corn snakes and black rat snakes. In fact, farmers often view black rat snakes as extremely beneficial. This is because they eat copious amounts of mice, rats, and other rodents that pose a threat to both farmland and houses. They typically do not pose any threat to humans but will bite if provoked.

5. Hognose Snakes

A plains hognose snake playing dead

Plains hognose snakes roll onto their backs and “play dead” as a defense against predators.

©Matt Jeppson/Shutterstock.com

Hognose snakes are venomous, but not poisonous. They are typically harmless snakes that also belong to the Colubridae family. Even though these snakes have a small bit of venom in their systems, they tend to be very timid snakes and often retreat instead of defending themselves when posed by a threat in the wild. They have a mildly toxic venom in their saliva, and this is used to help dissolve and eat their prey.

Hognose snakes are medium to large snakes that often have patterns that could resemble a rattlesnake. However, they have an upturned snout that they use to burrow in the ground in search of toads. As for their diet, hognose snakes typically feed off mice, insects, toads, frogs, and other snakes. These snakes are often kept as pets and do not really contain any aggressive behavior towards their handlers.

Summary of 5 Snakes You Actually Want in Your Backyard — And Why!

Here’s a recap of the snakes we took a look at that can help you keep unwanted critters out of your yard.

NumberSnakesHow They Help
1Garter SnakesLive off worms, insects, and amphibians such as frogs
2Gopher SnakesEat rabbits, rats, mice, and other small mammals; occasionally hunts lizards, frogs, and bats
3King SnakesConsume lizards, frogs, rodents, other pests, and other venomous snakes such as copperheads and rattlesnakes
4Rat SnakesFeed primarily on rodents
5Hognose SnakesEat mice, insects, toads, frogs, and other snakes


It appears there are snakes that you actually want in your backyard. The snakes listed in this article are non-venomous and typically pose no threat to humans. Instead, they kill their prey by constriction. However, some may have a small amount of venom that is harmless to humans yet deadly to prey. Just be sure to keep your pet bunnies inside because these tend to be a favorite meal for them!

Many snakes will help control rodents and other pests that are otherwise terrorizing your property. Although these snakes will not likely harm you or your pets, it’s best to keep an eye on your pets when they are outside. The good news is that these snakes will do great at controlling insects, pests, and rodent infestations in your yard!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Valt Ahyppo/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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