How To: Get Rid of Snakes
They may be perceived as sneaky, slimy, and scary, but most snakes are not dangerous to humans. And, to their credit, they do an excellent job of keeping the population of rats and mice in check. Out of more than 150 snake species in North America, only four (the copperhead, rattlesnake, coral snake, and cottonmouth) are venomous—and they should be avoided at all costs.
Got rats, mice, voles, or moles? If so, you’re inviting snakes to dinner! Eliminating the rodent habitat in your yard, and the areas surrounding it can go a long way in the quest for how to get rid of snakes.
Maintain your lawn by mowing regularly and control brush and tall vegetation by cutting back any tall weeds growing at your property’s edge. Clean up such debris as piles of rocks or wood, which make excellent shelter for mice and other small rodents.
Search for rodent burrows—sure signs that pesky four-footed critters are camping out on your property—and fill them up with dirt or gravel.
Apply Snake Repellant
There are several excellent and effective snake repellants on the market. If you have kids or pets, read the labels, to choose one that’s safe to use where they might also wander. Granular formulas are easiest to administer, while liquid varieties need to be mixed.
The Guide to Snake Sightings In and Around Your Home: How to Safely Observe Serpents
Unexpectedly crossing paths with a snake in your own yard — or worse, inside your house! — is an unnerving thought for many homeowners. Fearing snakes is quite common, and that might be a reason they seem so mysterious to many of us. After all, it’s tough to make yourself research something that scares you! But being able to decipher a dangerous serpent from a harmless one can not only help you keep your family safe, it can also be a fascinating learning opportunity.
This guide will cover the key factors to consider when observing and potentially removing snakes from your home. First, you’ll need to know the kinds of traits to look for to determine whether a snake is hazardous. Next, it’s important to learn the habitats and hiding spots in which you might stumble upon these legless creatures. Finally, you’ll want to learn safe, humane options for removing any problem snakes from your property — whether you encounter one inside or out.
Friend or Foe: How to Identify Dangerous Snakes from Harmless Ones
Keep in mind that of the 120 species of snakes found across North America, only 20 pose a deadly threat to humans and domestic animals. It’s crucial to find out which ones have been spotted in your area, so talk to your neighbors and consult animal control, as well. Do take note that just because no one’s ever seen a venomous snake around or there aren’t any native to your area, it’s always better to err on the side of caution if you see one — especially if it has the traits of a dangerous species.
So what should you look for? There are a few key characteristics to keep an eye on: the snake’s body type, head shape, eye characteristics, tail, and coloring. Remember: keep a safe distance before approaching any snake you come across. Even if you’ve seen a garden snake slither through your backyard a dozen times, each new encounter should be treated with caution. Additionally, having a field guide handy — be it a pocket hardcopy or online — is always a good idea.
Starting general by identifying the body type is not only the safe place to start, it’s both the smartest and simplest. Consider the snake’s body: is it short, long, or something in-between? Is it somewhat fat the entire length of its body, or slim and skinny? Depending on the species, snakes can grow anywhere from around a foot to several meters long, so keep it relative. If you’re having trouble deciding on the appropriate size category, make an estimation of how long it appears to be: two feet? Less than five feet? Or perhaps you do better thinking in terms of comparison: was the snake fatter than a garden hose, or about the same diameter? Your measurements don’t have to be exact, but getting a general sense can make it easier for you or a professional to identify what you’re dealing with.
Have snakes in your yard? Here’s how to get rid of them
If you can’t tell if the snake is venomous from a distance, leave it alone and treat it as if it were venomous. Any snake may respond aggressively if agitated. Snakes hibernate during the winter under rocks and in burrows. In the summer they are most active at dawn and dusk. Snakes mainly eat rodents, birds and other reptiles.
If you encounter a snake outside of human development, leave it alone – it’s in its natural habitat.
Never try to poke, handle, corner or harass a snake.
Snake bites occur when people are trying to handle or kill the snake. Teach children to respect wildlife and to look, but not touch.
Snakes hide well on open trails and in dense grasses. Be aware of your surroundings. Look carefully where you place your feet, and before you sit down on the ground, on rocks, or on logs.
Wear closed-toed shoes while hiking.
If you hear a rattle, don’t jump or panic. Try to locate where the sound is coming from before trying to move. Warn others if they are around.
If bitten, treat it as if it were a venomous snake bite. Do not use a tourniquet or cold compress. Do not suck out the venom. Keep the victim calm, remove restrictive clothing and jewelry near the bite, and keep the affected area below the level of the heart. Treat for shock if necessary and get medical attention immediately.
If a snake is bothering you in your yard, spray it with a hose. This is a harmless and easy way to scare them off. Keep at least a distance of 15 feet while spraying the snake.
Tips for keeping a snake-free yard
Forget about “Snakes on a Plane”; we’re more concerned with snakes in the yard. Even though snakes are nowhere near as prevalent as our irrational fears would have us think (assuming you don’t live smack dab in the middle of rattlesnake territory), if you’re a homeowner with a bit of landscape or yard under your direction, you may encounter snakes on occasion.
“As a general rule, snakes are just as frightened of you as possibly you are of them and often they move as quickly as possible in the other direction,” the extension noted. Venomous snake bites are rare and you can readily take steps to treat them. If you’re an avid gardener, you may even want snakes in your slice of the great outdoors, since they dine on rodents and insects and can actually help protect you from garden pests.
“There are no magic or absolute solutions,” AWR asserted. “There are no poisons or repellents that work, though some new ‘breakthrough’ is occasionally advertised. Horsehair ropes and trails of mothballs have consistently tested negative, and pest control operators have no answers.”
Seal crevices. Closer to your home, seal the openings where snakes like to set up house. “Check the clearance of door bottoms, weep holes, openings where pipes enter, cracks and spaces under eaves,” AWR recommended. “Don’t neglect storerooms and sheds.”
Tidy up the yard. Snakes might choose to live on your property or simply travel through, according to AWR. You want to make your property as inhospitable as possible, so concentrate on ridding it of any places snakes would consider good spots to hide. Remove debris, from piles of boards, tin, sticks and leaves to flat boats on the ground and piles of bricks or stone, AWR advised, and keep vegetation cut back.
How to Remove Snakes from the House
Few things are as creepy as walking downstairs in the middle of the night for a glass of water, turning on your kitchen light, and seeing a snake seemingly lurking in your kitchen. Or perhaps you see it slither across your path as your light flickers on. While only 20 native snake species in America are venomous, and most snakes would rather avoid you, knowing you have a snake in your house is still disconcerting. You want it out. You may just be able to do it yourself.
People react in one of two ways to snakes: Some people see any snake as “poisonous” — although snakes aren’t poisonous, but venomous — and some have absolutely no fear. Whichever camp you fall into, make sure you identify the snake before you have a heart attack or get needlessly brave. If you’re uncertain what kind of snake it is, use a snake identification book or website, or call a local agricultural extension or other wildlife expert.
Snake Removal Methods
Fortunately, most snakes found inside the house are relatively small. They wander in through small holes, cracks and entrances looking for either food or shelter. The simplest way to get them out is to throw a towel, blanket, or similar material and scoop them up before removing them from the house. Brave individuals may even wear gloves — as long as it isn’t venomous — and do the same. Funnel traps are available but tend to not be very reliable. A better mechanical trap is a glue pad. Place it near a wall where the snake is likely to slither. Release the snake by taking it away from the home and pouring vegetable oil over it, which will eventually dissolve the glue and free the snake. For poisonous snakes, call a professional. Keep children and pets away from any snake.