Whenever youre in doubt about how to properly control unwanted snakes, the This Old House Reviews team recommends speaking with a professional pest control company like Orkin. Snakes should always be approached and dealt with after seeking professional help, especially when youre unsure about the species youre facing.
Handling any pest issueespecially one as serious as snakesshould always begin with identifying the species. If you suspect you have a venomous snake in your yard, you should not try to manage the snake on your own under any circumstances. But depending on your region, you might be dealing with a long list of non-venomous snakes that are commonly found lurking in bushes, leaf piles, or storage areas.
Snakes often slither by so quickly that it can be difficult to identify them if you dont know what to look for. There are a few common factors to consider to make an educated guess. None of these snakes are venomous or present a serious threat to humans.
Garter snakes can be found in most regions across North America other than particularly arid areas of the southwest. They typically have three stripes running down the length of their bodies, have heads that are larger than their necks, and can grow up to 54 inches. Color and patterns vary among species.
Similar to garter snakes, these creatures vary in coloring and pattern but often feature a dark body with a lighter underbelly and chin. They also have larger heads than their necks. Rat snakes can swim and climb, so you may see them in trees or bodies of water.
There are also several varieties of the common backyard snake, the kingsnakes. These types of snakes are commonly mixed up with venomous types, such as the coral snakes, due to the bands of color down their backs. Depending on the species, kingsnakes may have red, yellow, or black markings. Most will have a spoon-shaped head and round pupils.
Snakes vary widely in appearance, and you often need to get quite closewhich we do not recommendin order to pick out their unique features. However, there are some quick ways to determine if you could be dealing with a venomous snake in your yard.
Snakes are similar to other pesky visitors in your yard or homethey are often seeking food or shelter. Some snakes may hang around if they have access to eating:
Snakes may also seek shelter in thick brush, dense piles of compost or leaves, or areas of water. Broken gutters, firewood containers, or ventilation can also provide places for snakes to take shelter from the heat. Your area may also have a low number of natural snake predators, such as raccoons and foxes.
If a slippery creature slithered by you, you may be concerned you have a larger issue. Here are a few signs you may have more snakes in your yard than you know:
If you currently have a snake in your lawn, always begin by confirming that the snake is non-venomous before trying to remove it on your own. When in doubt, call animal control for help or your local pest control specialist for long-term management.
If you are completely certain the snake is not dangerous, gently spray a hose at a snake from a distance to help it move along.
If you intend to have a professional remove the snake the same day, you can also quickly trap it with a garbage canagain, only if you are sure it is safe to approach.
Common products like Ortho Snake B Gon work by throwing off a snakes sense of smell and deter them from nesting in your garden. Many of these products from stores or in your pantry are mostly safe for petsthough you should always double check the labeland do not harm the snakes. For example, rim your pool, yard, or garden with white vinegar to deter snakes from getting this potent liquid on their skin.
Inspect your lawn and home for pools of water, particularly in hidden areas such as by your hose, under a storage area, or in the garden. By removing these pools of water, many snake varieties will find another area to nest.
Again, if you are certain that the snake is harmless, there are available ways to catch and release a snake. Glue traps, for example, lure snakes to their common areas, secure them to the trap and allow you to release the snake with common cooking oils.
Snakes like to hide from predators in warm, sheltered places. Remove common areas in your yard where snakes may be living, including piled hoses, firewood storage, tall grasses, dense brush, open areas under sheds, and storage.
Snakes might also co-opt other animal burrows for themselves. Fill in holes and burrows with gravel or dirt to discourage snakes from making a home.
Mow your lawn frequently with the setting low to the ground. This keeps snakes from hiding in your yard while eliminating the fear that you will see one out in the open.
A snake in your house is a much larger issue than outdoors. Call animal control or a pest control specialist if there is a snake in your home that does not have immediate access to leave on its own, especially if it slithered out of sight. Snakes may find ways to get into your home if you have a mouse problem. We recommend contacting a pest control specialist the moment you see a snake in your home to both remove the snake safely and address the underlying problem.
Removing a snake from a body of water is safest with a long pole or hook, such as those used for skimming a pools surface. Again, this is only safe when you are sure the snake is harmless. Otherwise, call for professional help right away.
In the long run, prevent snakes from entering your pool area by creating a natural perimeter with vinegar or with a tightly woven mesh fence that can keep snakes out.
Though some snakes can be beneficial to pest control in your yard, there are plenty of reasons why you may not want any taking up residence on your property. Here are a few long-term ways to deter snakes from making a comfortable home in your space.
In addition to keeping any rodent or insect issues in check, be sure to close up any easy entryways for snakes. These may include:
Even non-venomous snakes might bite to protect themselves, and all bites should be taken with the same level of urgency. Immediately call 911, even if the snakebite does not immediately hurt or does not look serious.
In the meantime, or if you do not have immediate access to help, take the following steps:
Having some snakes in your yard is a great sign that you have a healthy environment. Snakes are members of the basic food chain to help control unwanted pests and supply food for larger predators like birds. Harmless snakes may even eat venomous snakes, further ensuring a safe yard. Be sure to check with your local professionals before moving ahead with complete snake eradication.
Lets recap everything we found about how to get rid of snakes with some commonly asked questions and common concerns.
Natural sprays, treatments, and barriers can keep snakes from entering your property or home in the first place. In the long run, it is best to remove any temptations for snakes, such as:
There is a common myth that mothballs are a safe way to deter snakes. However, it has since been found that moth balls do not have much of an effect. The chemical in mothballs can also be toxic to the water system, cause negative symptoms in humans, and be harmful to pets.
Ortho Snake B Gone is one of the most popular natural snake repellents, but general changes to your home and landscape are your best defense for long-term pest control.
Salt has not been found to be a repellent for snakes. Unlike slugs, they are not affected by the salts chemical makeup.
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How to Get Rid of Snakes and Keep Them Away - This Old House