Snakes can be a vibrant part of local ecosystems and, in many cases, help keep other pests such as mice and insects under control. Sometimes, however, snakes can take up residence in places where they are unwanted. Learning some easy snake removal tips can help ensure that these slithery creatures don’t become a nuisance in your house.
Initial Steps & Precautions
Before slithering into this article let’s get some things straight. Some snakes are poisonous and can cause serious harm or even death. Having a professional animal control service remove snakes from your home is the ideal arrangement. Unfortunately, pricing and availability don’t always allow for such hands-off approaches.
The remainder of this article is for those preparing to take matters into their own hands. These are the first steps for snake removal from your home and/or living spaces:
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- Don’t Antagonize the Snake
- Identify the Type of Snake (poisonous vs. non-poisonous)
- Keep Animals & Children Away from the Area
Step One: Don’t Provoke the Snake
Snakes don’t generally attack humans unless provoked. Exceptions may happen if you accidentally startle a snake or touch it. using a snake trap is considered a safer and more humane course of action rather than trying to hit a snake with a shovel, stick, or shoot it.
Snakes help keep rodents and insect populations under control and should be let loose in nearby outdoor areas to help maintain local balance. As tempting as it may be to simply kill a snake found near your home, you’ll benefit from catching it and releasing in a nearby area. Just as soon as you start killing off snakes you’ll be faced with a rat or mouse problem instead!
Step Two: Identify the Snake
Snake control involves getting up-close and personal with snakes—even when using a snake trap. If you’re planning on handling, trapping, or transporting a snake you’re always running the risk of getting bit. Proper safety precautions and protective clothing can help safeguard you but knowing how to deal with a snake bite is essential.
The most important aspect of dealing with a snake bite is knowing what type of snake bit you.
If you are bitten by a non-venomous snake you’re more or less dealing with a cut. Proper sanitization is, more or less, as much precaution one needs. If you’re dealing with a bite from a poisonous snake—you need to immediately seek emergency medical treatment. Being able to tell a medical professional what species of snake you were bitten by helps ensure the most effective anti-snake venom treatment is used. In other words; know what you’re getting into before attempting snake removal from your home.
Step Three: Keep Others Away
It’s essential to keep children, pets, and unknowing adults away from areas where snakes have been seen. As mentioned before, snakes may attack humans or animals when startled or unwittingly provoked.
This initial precaution is even more essential for poisonous snake removal. Children and animals are much more susceptible to the detrimental effects of snake venom than full-grown adults. Once a snake has been spotted it’s essential to block access to pets and warn others.
Once you’ve identified the species of snake you’re dealing with and ensured others won’t unintentionally provoke it you can actually start the removal process. There are several options for successfully removing a snake and each has benefits and downsides.
Snake traps are the ideal way to remove snakes when possible. They’re designed to provide the most separation from you and snakes as is possible, often only requiring close proximity for removal. The majority of snake traps utilize a small box-like design with sticky glue flooring. This trap draws snakes and other rodents in traps them by causing them to stick to the gluey floor, and can then release them elsewhere. In most cases, you’ll still have to deal with the release.
Pros: Easy, Quick, Standardized Approach
Cons: Dealing with a live snake during the release
Killing the Snake
Taking action to kill the snake is always an option but falls into the high-risk category. The first downside to this approach is the requirement of close proximity. The second downside is the intentional antagonization of the snake. Either of these aspects are bad but, when taken together, they are often a recipe for disaster.
Shovels, tree-trimmers, and garden hoes are common tools used to kill snakes. This option is often preferred with dealing with venomous snakes such as Copperheads or Rattlesnakes. No amount of pest control is worth the potential risk of being bitten by a venomous species.
Pros: Permanent removal of venomous species.
Cons: Snake can no longer help kill mice; higher risk of being bitten.
Another option is to simply let a professional remove the snake for you. Companies like Orkin and other pest removal companies offer contract pest removal services on a national level. In most cases, snake removal is contracted out to local organizations that specialize in dealing with local species. The upside here is that you’ll not have to get your hands dirty or worry about getting bitten. The downside is that such services are rarely cheap. Expect to break out the wallet for this option.
Pros: Safest and surest way to remove snakes
Cons: Most expensive method and availability is unpredictable.
Snake Control & Prevention
Removing snakes is something that falls well within normalcy when it comes to home ownership. Regardless of how well-maintained, any home is likely to have nooks and crannies where snakes might find themselves lured to make a nest. While it’s true that snakes help keep other pests in check, that doesn’t mean they can do their job from outside your home. Below are some simple actions you can take to help keep snakes out of your home.
Distance Bird Feeders & Nests from Home
Birds lay eggs and snakes love eggs. While the sight of birds fluttering around your property might be an inspiration—it’s also a signal for snakes to set up shop. While snakes might not fee on the birds directly, it’s likely that birds will choose to nest near-permanent food sources. Keeping birds from nesting is an entirely different topic and should be given consideration by anyone seeking to repel snakes from their property.
Snake fences help dissuade snakes from entering your property much in the way that a chain-link fence would dissuade stray animals. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife describes the ideal snake fence as such:
The best protection against rattlesnakes in the yard is a “rattlesnake proof” fence. The fence should either be solid or with mesh no larger than one-quarter inch. It should be at least three feet high with the bottom buried a few inches in the ground. Slanting your snake fence outward about a 30-degree angle will help. Keep vegetation away from the fence and remove piles of boards or rocks around the home.
Keeping your grass mowed, hedges trimmed, and garden areas tidy help prevent snakes from taking up residence. While it might seem OK that a snake is living in your yard—that means it’s getting that much closer to your house. Another important consideration is the type of landscaping features you choose. Elements such as dry-stacked rocks provide cozy hiding places for snakes throughout the year. Stacks of firewood are another magnet for snakes as well.
Snakes are known to feed on small rodents such as mice, voles, and rats. If you notice any of these species around your home take action to remove them as soon as possible. These types of animals are the surest way to attract every snake in your area to come feed at your home. Sooner, rather than later, the snakes are likely to start nesting closer to their new favorite rodent buffet!