How to Care for Injured Garden Snakes

Garden Snake - Gartner variety
Garden Snake - Gartner variety (Image: Photos by Julia Fuller 2008 Thanks Lane)

Warm weather brings out the bikes, lawnmowers, and ATVs that go through your yard. Other creatures are lurking and traveling through your lawn as well only they are camouflaged or hidden by their size. Obviously, the combination can lead to a small creature suffering an unexpected injury. Here in the Midwest, garden snakes are abundant, and can be seen almost daily. Garden snakes seem to enjoy being in the lawn near our homes, flowerbeds, pools, patios, and ponds. Every summer, the lawnmower accidentally runs over a garden snake or two. The injured snake is brought into the kitchen to see “Doctor Mom” for first aid care. How does Doctor Mom care for injured garden snakes?

Things You'll Need

  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Q-tips
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Gauze
  • Skin tape (the paper type)
  • Super glue
  • An empty aquarium with lid or large Rubbermaid (type) tote
  • Aspen bedding, shredded newspaper, or fresh grass
  • Water dish
  • Food such as insects, worms, or mice

Have someone hold the snake just behind the head while supporting the body with the other hand. You may want to place a towel or some newspaper under the snake. Clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide. Do this by pouring small amounts over the wounded area every few seconds until the peroxide stops foaming.

Prevent a bite by holding the snake behind the head.
Prevent a bite by holding the snake behind the head.

Use a Q-tip to apply some triple antibiotic ointment on the wound. Then wrap some sterile gauze around the snake covering the wound, unless the wound is very deep. (If there is a deep wound, first use some super glue in place of stitches to bring the skin back together, then wrap with gauze.) Use some skin tape to secure the gauze.

Place the snake in a warm, secure, darkened area to rest as soon as you have finished the first aid. The snake may be suffering from shock. You can use an empty aquarium or tote for your temporary hospital bed. If you have aspen bedding great, if not shred some newspaper until the bedding is about two inches thick on the bottom. Allow your snake to rest for several hours.

Offer it some food and waster after it has rested. Insects such as crickets would be appropriate for a first meal.

Change the gauze and apply more antibiotic ointment. Place your hospital snake bed in the sunlight or under a lamp so the snake can warm itself. Continue daily to offer food, water, and change the gauze until your snake is healed. Once your snake is healed, you should release it.

Release the healed snake outside.
Release the healed snake outside.

Tips & Warnings

  • To avoid a bite, hold the snake just behind the head with one hand, and support the body with the other hand.
  • Garden snakes eat insects and small rodents living in your yard.
  • Snakes are cold-blooded so they move slower before the heat of the sun warms them.
  • A snake sunning on a rock or driveway can move very fast.
  • Garden snakes can bite you if you try to catch them or pick them up.

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