Garter snakes are one of the most known snakes in this world. Though they love to hide among the rocks near a water source, they also can’t get enough of basking in the sunshine.
You’ve likely seen a garter snake near your home, lying on warm pavement or in the middle of a well-worn trail, warming up before night falls.
Many of us are incredibly familiar with garter snakes, but when asked questions about them, we realize that we don’t know much about them at all!
In fact, one of the most frequently asked questions regarding these common backyard snakes is do garter snakes lay eggs?
Do Garter Snakes Lay Eggs?
Garter snakes, instead of laying eggs, nurture live babies inside of their bodies until it’s time to give birth. Garter snakes are known to give birth to about 20-40 live young at a time.
The Garter Snake Life Cycle
Garter snakes have a life cycle that is anything but simple, from a biological perspective. However, when we look at it in general terms, it seems pretty straightforward.
When the female garter snake is ready to mate, she’ll release pheromones that attract dozens of males. When mating is complete, the female garter snake will do something that is incredibly cool and biologically complex.
She is actually able to store sperm inside her body until she’s ready to fertilize her eggs.
Once fertilization takes place, the female garter will carry her babies inside of her until she gives birth, which is typically around 2 to 3 months. She will establish a nest in which to birth her babies safely.
Soon, the nest will be wriggling with 20 to 40 wiggling garter snake babies! Some garter snakes have been recorded as having as many as 80 babies.
Snakes evolved to live on their own. Even when you see them nesting in pairs, it’s likely just a coincidence.
When baby garter snakes are born, it’s likely that they’re on their own right away. Some species of larger African snakes have been seen protecting their babies for around 2 weeks after birth, but this is not the norm for snakes.
Not long after their birth, baby garter snakes are expected to find food and survive all on their own. This is where evolutionary instincts kick in, successfully keeping the snakes alive!
Snakes and Live Births
Garter snakes are not the only type of snake that give birth to live babies. There are plenty of snake species that skip the egg step and go straight to the live birth.
Anacondas, rattlesnakes, rinkhals, water snakes, white-lipped snakes, boa constrictors, sea snakes and more give birth to live babies.
Despite some of these species being incredibly popular with humans, both in nature documentaries and as pets, there is still a rampant misconception that all snakes lay eggs.
Corn snakes, king snakes, ball pythons, grass snakes, rat snakes, and copperheads are just a few snakes that lay eggs. It can take up to two months for snake eggs to hatch once they’ve been laid, so if you’re new to snake ownership and hoping they’ll hatch right away, don’t panic!
Finding a Garter Snake Nest
Garter snakes love warm places, especially if they’re nesting in the winter. If you’ve spotted babies around or in your house, or an adult snake, it’s likely you’ve got a nest nearby.
Removing them humanely is more than possible, and best executed with a professional’s help.
You’re likely to find a garter snake nest in attics or under houses. If you have a shed, inside the shed or underneath it are possibilities as well.
Remember, if it’s the dead of winter and you remove them and put them outside, they’re likely to die from the temperatures.
Killing them will likely leave you with a mess, and the chances of catching them all are slim to none. If you think you have a garter snake nest near or in your home, contact an expert in pest or snake removal, and make sure the practice is humane!
Because garter snakes are so common, the world is full of questions regarding them. Knowing what to look for if you’re trying to find a nest is key in successful relocation, and I’ll give you a hint: it’s not eggs.
Frequently Asked Questions about Garter Snakes Laying Eggs
Do garter snakes lay eggs?
Garter snakes don’t lay eggs. Instead, this snake species give birth to live young, sometimes dozens at once!
Will garter snakes lay eggs in my home?
If a garter snake discovers a safe, warm place to give birth in your home, they will absolutely do so! Don’t be shocked if you see a few of these harmless snakes around during the colder months, and don’t kill them! Ask the help of a professional when removing them.
Keeping Garter Snakes Safe
Garter snakes are an essential component of the ecosystem and your local food chain. They keep pests under control without asking for much in return, just a warm place to curl up and nest.
Coexisting with garter snakes is more than possible. They’re not a nuisance to share your space with while you wait for an expert, and they can be removed relatively easily!