You may not believe me but snakes really can be a garden’s (and gardener’s) best friend! Many people carry a fear of these creatures. I can understand being afraid of poisonous snakes but the others are quite beneficial. Yesterday while I was outside near my vegetable garden putting in some outdoor plant shelves (made from old wooden pallets) I moved a piece of plywood that was being used to smother some weeds. Underneath the plywood I found a network of vole holes but I also found this black kingsnake hanging out just waiting for his next meal to come along! I said to myself “that’s pretty dang cool!”
Why are snakes good for the garden?
Because they eat one of the most annoying rodents: voles. The also eat other rodents but voles are quite destructive creatures. They tunnel under the ground frequently using abandoned mole holes. From underground voles nibble and naw on the roots of any plant they find tasty. Often trees and shrubs can be severely damaged by the girdling effect when voles get right up to the trunk and eat the bark all the way around the trunk. Voles also can do a number of vegetable plants in the vegetable garden.
Kingsnakes are pretty cool snakes to have around if you’re going to have snakes around. Here’s why, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources:
Kingsnakes are resistant to the venom of pit-vipers and they readily eat copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes.
What could be better in the garden than a snake that not only eats vermin but also dines on poisonous snakes! Now that is one cool snake.
It wasn’t long before I watched the king snake, my new best friend, disappear back into the series of vole holes outside of our vegetable garden. I found him again later, or hopefully a friend of his, underneath a tarp I needed to move. Many people would simply kill the snake out of fear rather than learn about it and welcome it to the garden. As gardeners it’s important that we not only learn about but also learn to appreciate the wonders of nature and how it can aid us when in the garden!