Snakes and Knotweed!

Tuesday 15th April 2014

I was at a local garden centre yesterday and was looking at a stand of Japanese knotweed (much to my wife’s disgust) at the edge of the car park, when I spotted a snake sunning itself at the edge of the car park (but still in the knotweed stand). It was a lively little thing and one that I knew I didn’t recognise. I took a photograph and it was a common Garter Snake, which presumably had escaped from the Garden centre’s Reptile House (or perhaps was released by a customer). It had over wintered and was obviously quite healthy.

So one invasive alien species was harbouring another... will Garter Snakes become yet another invasive species? Certainly in their home of North America they are found in most of the USA including Alaska, so it is difficult to see why they shouldn’t establish in the British Isles.

I did report this to the Garden Centre staff who will presumably try to re-capture the snake, but my concern is how often is this scenario being repeated across the British Isles? A Garter Snake may be harmless to humans, but we cannot know what impact it would have on the environment if they established in the wild in the British Isles.

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