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Snakes on a Trail

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It took years before I saw a snake in Seattle.

I didn’t see snakes in Seattle, Washington for my first 15 years living in the city. Despite being an avid gardener and hiker, I’d never run into a serpent in the city. Then, one day on a hike in Seattle’s large Discovery park, I sighted a snake on a trail.

Garter Snakes in Seattle Washington Discovery Park

A solitary snake traveling a Discovery Park trail in Seattle, WA

Not seeing snakes in Seattle, Washington isn’t uncommon.

In reality, there just aren’t many snakes in the Seattle area. And, of those known to live here, none to my knowledge are effectively venomous.

Yes, you’ll find snakes in outlying areas where development hasn’t been as dense as it is in Seattle. And, you might find them locations where development is relatively new. But, there too, you’ll mostly find innocuous little snakes.

Other snakes do live in other parts of Washington.

However, if you venture into the mountains or beyond, and you will start finding dangerous more serpents. This includes rattlesnakes.

Why would you want to have snakes in your garden?

Snakes can be a sign of a healthy ecosystem. Plus, the garter snakes that live in Seattle and many other areas, are a gardener’s helper. In fact, they’ll hunt and eat slugs. And, slugs are one of the worst pests PacNW gardeners deal with. So, be happy if you find a garter snakes in your Seattle, Washington garden. That means you’re growing a healthy garden. And, you probably have a lot less slugs than other gardeners.

Join our online Academy to learn more about beneficial garden fauna like snakes for your garden. We’ll help you grow a balanced, beautiful garden.

16 comments on “Snakes on a Trail

  1. Susan Maki on

    We see snakes in our garden every year. I think they are attracted to the frogs in our backyard pond. Every year is different: sometimes we see more snakes, and in other years we hear more frogs. I love nature! Last summer, the snakes were winning – saw one a week.

  2. Susan Calhoun on

    As a girl growing up on the east hill of Kent (this would have been during the 50’s and 60’s), I saw garter snakes all the time: Red Racers, Blue Racers and the more common ones with the yellow stripe. They hung out in our raspberry bushes, in the grass near our orchard. On any summer day wandering our property (which included 13 acres of woodlands) I always saw one or two…or more.
    Since moving to the city, I have seen none.

  3. Garden Mentors on

    Susan C – I grew up playing with snakes too…not in the Seattle area, but many other locations. It’s sad not to see them, though I don’t mind that we don’t have the rattler, cottonmouth & other toxic snakes (I knew as a kid) to contend with.

  4. Walter Sullivan on

    I grew up at Ft. Lawton. in the mid1950’s and remember hiking in the woods around the home on Montana Circle. On several occasions we saw a black snake about 2-3 feet in length in the woods, ESP. Between the homes and the movie theater. One time I remember a parent calling the MP’s who came and shot a snake close,to the homes, with a shotgun! MP’s 1- Snake 0 Never found out what type of snake this was ??

  5. Garden Mentors on

    Walter, thanks for sharing your story. It’s pretty sad that they not only decided they had to kill the snake but that they needed a gun to do it. Perhaps they — unlike you — knew it was a danger. Then again, maybe not.

  6. fran on

    Just found your post because I just now saw a little black snake in my garden in the central district, Seattle, for the first time in sixteen years here! Exciting!

  7. Steve Hurt on

    I was pulling weeds in the Richmond Beach area of Seattle yesterday and witnessed seeing the first snake that I’ve seen in 50 years. It was slender and about 12″ long and gray in color.

  8. Garden Mentors on

    Steve, Thanks for sharing your snake experience. Isn’t it amazing to see them after not seeing them for so many years? It would seem more snakes are making Seattle their home. Snap a photo if you see it again, and you’ll probably be able to get it identified.

  9. Zoe on

    Where I grew up I would see snakes almost every day and would sometimes pick them up for the fun of it (don’t worry I always would put them back where I found them).
    I now live in Seattle and sadly have not seen even one snake. I hope to see one soon

  10. Joan Whitley on

    I grew up in Snohomish County where garter snakes were common in the yards and wooded areas. But they are missing from Seattle. I live on the edge of a ravine and would love to have a garter snake conclave near my own garden/yard. Is it possible to purchase garter snakes and release them in my area? I would build a protected area for them to hide if they wanted to crawl into a den like space, especially in the winter.

    Just a thought.

  11. Garden Mentors on

    Joan, buying garter snakes and releasing them probably isn’t a good idea. Any snakes you buy are unlikely to be from this area. And who knows what they might carry &/or introduce to any snakes living near you (that you haven’t seen). I completely get that you want to have garter snakes in your garden. In fact, when I lived in Seattle, I was soooo tempted to grab one or two from a wild spot to introduce to my garden. But, that’s a terrible plan too. Maybe someday snakes will return to your garden…you never know when an owl might grab one and accidentally drop it live into your ravine!

  12. John Douglas Helm on

    I have been contemplating a move to the Seattle area and the apparent lack of snakes is a plus.

  13. L. S. Haynes on

    When we lived in Columbia City, Seattle, I saw my first snake. I was about four years. Later, deep in the heart of Seattle, my mother had a garter snake in her back yard.

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