Get to Know the Good and Bad Garden Reptiles (and How to Humanely Handle Them)

Get to Know the Good and Bad Garden Reptiles (and How to Humanely Handle Them)



For some sad reason, many people shiver at the thought of reptiles. Some have fear of snakes, tagging all of them as dangerous. Others’ minds go to prehistoric assassins like crocodiles and alligators. My mom is screaming, stand-on-something afraid of lizards, regardless of how small they are.

Then, there are gardeners, and reptiles are more often than not good friends in the garden. Very few are interested in gobbling up the green beans, but most of them are in quiet pursuit of those herbivorous and omnivorous animals that are searching for squash plants. Reptiles can help naturally control these “pests”.

As people hoping to make peace with reptiles, it is important to get to know which ones are good to see in the garden (most) and which might cause a problem (not many). Furthermore, if we do spot those “bad” garden reptiles, maybe there are humane ways to send them on their way.

Good Garden Reptiles

Again, the main benefit of having reptiles in the garden is that nearly all of them ignore the vegetables but devour the pests—slugs, insects, voles, and mice—that might want to eat the garden.

  • Lizards, skinks, and geckos (all technically species of lizard) are great to find in and around the garden. All of these reptiles are good hunters, mostly feeding on slugs, snails, and insects. They are also a good sign that chemicals, like pesticides and herbicides, are not present. Like frogs and toads, they can’t survive with these chemicals around.
  • Non-venomous snakes, despite how many people might feel, are great allies in the garden. Smaller snakes, like garter snakes and ribbons snakes, will feed on slugs and insects, whereas larger snakes like rat snakes and king snakes will help with rodent populations and even chase off venomous snakes that might want to move in.
  • Turtles, terrapins, and tortoises can be allies because they do feed on insects and other pests like slugs and snails. However, they can have a downside in that turtles do like to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. That said, typically, the amount they would eat is fairly negligible.

This article by Jonathon Engels was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 1 September 2022. Lead Image Source : U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region/Openverse.


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