Keeping Snakes Away: Advice from a Wildlife Biologist — Field Ecology

Keeping Snakes Away: Advice from a Wildlife Biologist — Field Ecology

For many, the sight of a snake in or around the house is the stuff of nightmares. Unfortunately many companies take advantage of people’s fear of snakes to sell products or services that are ineffective, and in some cases they may even recommend the use of products that increase the danger to family members and pets.

First off, the likelihood of a snake showing up on your doorstep depends on several factors, including: your location (north vs. south); surrounding landscape (urban vs. rural); presence of a water source (ponds, lakes, rivers); and your lawn and garden design and maintenance schedule. If you are finding snakes in or around your home, keep calm and follow the tips below:

[external_link_head]

Do…

  • Mow grass often and keep it short. Snakes are less likely to hang out and move through short grass because it increases their exposure to predators (e.g., coyotes, hawks). Short grass also makes snakes easier to spot by you and your family members.

  • Avoid watering your lawn. Watering of your lawn and garden may attract prey species (e.g., worms, slugs, frogs) which may attract snakes seeking a meal.

    [external_link offset=1]

  • Keep trees and shrubs trimmed. Trim trees and shrubs away from your home and garage, and keep branches away from the ground. Creating a 24-36″ space under trees and shrubs will reduce snake use and will make snakes easier to spot if present.

  • Move the bird feeder. Birds are messy eaters and often leave seed scattered below their feeder. Seed on the ground attracts rodents which may attract snakes seeking a meal. Move feeders away from the house or stop feeding altogether. Store bird seed in a metal can with a tight fitting lid.

  • Install a perch pole. Hawks and owls are natural snake predators that can be attracted to an area with the aid of a well placed perch pole. Poles should be placed in open areas so the hawk or owl has a good view of the yard and surrounding area. Learn more.

  • Feed pets inside. Feeding pets outside can attract insects and rodents which attracts snakes. If feeding outside is necessary, be sure to cleanup uneaten food right away. Store pet food in a metal can with a tight fitting lid.

  • Move your woodpile. Store firewood, excess lumber, and other types of debris away from your home. Stacks of lumber and firewood, and other piles a debris are prefect places for snakes to hide.

    [external_link offset=2]

  • Think before you landscape. Avoid using mulch and large rock in your landscaping. These materials attract snakes and their prey, and can create breeding and overwintering habitat. Instead, use smaller tight-fitting rock such as gravel or river rock. Avoid water gardens and Koi ponds as these water features attract snakes.

  • Seal the cracks. Seal cracks and crevices on the house, sidewalks, and foundations to prevent snakes from using these areas. Consider getting an energy audit. Energy audits can be a great way to identify cracks and crevices that allow air conditioning and/or heat to escape the home – these same cracks and crevices may be used by snakes and other small creatures.

  • Fencing. There are no sure-fire ways to keep snakes away, but when all else fails fencing may be worth consideration. Fencing should be buried a few inches into the ground, be constructed using 1/4″ or smaller rigid mesh or solid sheeting, and include a bend at the top to prevent snakes from climbing up and over. Several companies make wildlife-specific fencing to save you time, a couple example: ERTEC Environmental, ACO Wildlife.

[external_footer]