Today, let’s talk about a topic that might make some of us shudder: How to get rid of snakes in your yard.
Now, I must confess that the thought of encountering a slithery friend used to give me the creeps, but fear not!
With a bit of knowledge and some simple tips, you can peacefully coexist with these creatures or encourage them to find a new home without causing harm to anyone.
In this blog post, we will share the best way to get rid of snakes in your yard. Additionally, we’ll share about common types of snakes, signs you may have snakes, natural snake repellents, and natural snake predators.
With this information, it is our goal to help you overcome a fear of snakes and to feel confident removing the vast majority of snakes from your yard.
We, too, have had to learn about living with snakes since moving to the mountains.
Common Species of Snakes You May Find In Your Yard
Depending on where you live, there can be a variety of snake species that may find their way into your yard.
Here are some common species you might encounter:
Garter Snake (Thamnophis spp.): Garter snakes are widespread across North America and are often found near water sources, gardens, and lawns. They are harmless and play a vital role in controlling pests.
Rat Snake (Pantherophis spp.): Rat snakes are excellent climbers and can be found in wooded areas, barns, and even suburban yards. They are non-venomous and feed on rodents and birds.
Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus): Another non-venomous snake, the corn snake, is named for its corn-like pattern on its belly. They are commonly kept as pets but can also be found in the wild in the southeastern United States.
Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus): These small, slender snakes have a distinctive yellow or orange ring around their necks. They are harmless and often found under logs and rocks.
Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer): Gopher snakes are excellent burrowers and can be found in grasslands, deserts, and forests. They are non-venomous and are known for their defensive behavior, hissing and flattening their heads to mimic rattlesnakes.
Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix): Copperheads are venomous snakes found in eastern and southeastern parts of the United States. They are pit vipers and have a distinct copper-colored head.
Cottonmouth / Water Moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus): These venomous snakes are semi-aquatic and are found in the southeastern United States, often near water sources.
Rattlesnake (Crotalus spp.): Several species of rattlesnakes are found in North and South America. They are venomous and can be recognized by the rattles on their tails.
Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis obsoletus): Also known as the Eastern Rat Snake, these non-venomous snakes are excellent climbers and can be found in both rural and urban areas.
Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi): Bullsnakes are non-venomous and are found in the central United States. They are often mistaken for rattlesnakes due to their similar coloration and defensive behavior.
Signs of Snake Problems in Your Yard
Having a snake problem in your yard can be a cause for concern, especially if you’re unsure about the species or if venomous snakes are present.
Here are some signs that might indicate you have a snake issue in your yard:
Sightings: The most obvious sign is if you actually see snakes slithering around your yard. Keep in mind that most snakes are harmless, but it’s essential to identify the species to determine if they pose a risk.
Shed Snake Skin: Snakes shed their skin regularly as they grow. Finding shed snake skins, which are often translucent and can be several feet long, is a strong indicator that snakes are present in the area.
Snake Holes: Snakes, especially burrowing species, may create small holes in the ground where they hide or hibernate. These holes can be found in gardens, lawns, or under bushes or rocks.
Snake Tracks: Snakes leave tracks in soft soil or sand. Their tracks typically appear as two parallel lines with a wavy pattern in between, reflecting their unique slithering movement.
Eggshells: If you come across small, leathery eggshells in your yard, it could mean that a snake has laid eggs nearby. This is a sign of potential snake nesting.
Disappearance of Rodents and Pests: Snakes are natural predators of rodents and insects. If you notice a decrease in the population of rodents or pests around your property, it could indicate that snakes are helping control these populations.
Bird Activity: Birds often become noisy and agitated when they detect the presence of a snake nearby. If you see or hear birds acting unusually, it might be worth investigating the cause.
Unusual Smells: Some snake species, like garter snakes, release a musky odor when they feel threatened. If you notice an unusual smell in your yard, it could be a snake’s defensive response.
Prey Items: Snakes may leave behind evidence of their meals, such as leftover bird feathers, rodent fur, or insect parts.
Snake Droppings: Snake droppings, also known as snake scat, might be found in areas where snakes are active. They are typically elongated and may contain remains of the snake’s last meal.
If you suspect you have a snake problem in your yard, it’s essential to exercise caution and avoid approaching or handling the snakes.
Try to identify the species from a safe distance, and if you are unsure about the snake’s venomous nature or if you feel uncomfortable dealing with them, contact a local wildlife expert or pest control professional for assistance.
Natural Snake Repellents
When it comes to keeping snakes away from your yard or home, there are several natural repellents you can use.
These methods are typically safe for humans, pets, and the environment while helping to discourage snakes from staying in the area.
Here are some natural snake repellents you can consider:
Essential Oils: Certain essential oils have strong scents that snakes dislike. Oils like cinnamon, clove, cedarwood, and lemongrass are known to be effective snake repellents. You can mix a few drops of these essential oils with water and spray the solution around the perimeter of your yard, near entry points, and any areas where snakes might be hiding.
Vinegar: Snakes find the strong odor of vinegar unpleasant. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water, and spray it around your yard. Be cautious while using vinegar around plants, as it may affect their health if used in large quantities.
Sulfur: Snakes are also known to dislike the smell of sulfur. You can sprinkle sulfur powder or use sulfur-based products around your property to keep snakes at bay.
Ammonia: The strong smell of ammonia can be a deterrent for snakes. Soak some rags or cloth in ammonia and place them in areas where snakes are often seen, or near potential entry points to your home.
Clove and Cinnamon Mulch: Using mulch made from cloves and cinnamon around your garden beds can help keep snakes away. The smell will deter them from slithering into your plants.
Predator Urine: Some garden stores sell predator urine, such as fox or coyote urine, which can mimic the presence of natural predators in the area. Snakes might avoid these areas, thinking there is a threat nearby.
Planting Repellent Plants: Certain plants are believed to repel snakes due to their strong smell. Examples include marigolds, lemongrass, and wormwood. Plant them strategically around your yard to create a snake-repelling barrier.
Keep Your Yard Clean: Snakes are attracted to places with hiding spots and ample food sources. By keeping your yard tidy and free of debris, you reduce the appeal of your property to snakes.
Remember that while natural repellents can be helpful, they might not guarantee complete elimination of snakes.
It’s essential to combine these methods with other preventative measures like sealing off entry points, removing potential hiding spots, and practicing caution when encountering snakes.
Additionally, always exercise care and respect when dealing with snakes, as some species can be dangerous.
If you encounter a snake you cannot identify or if you’re unsure about its venomous nature, it’s best to seek the assistance of a local wildlife expert or pest control professional.
Certain plants have natural properties that are believed to repel snakes due to their strong scents or other characteristics.
While there’s no foolproof method to keep snakes away solely by planting these types of vegetation, incorporating them into your garden or yard may help reduce the chances of snakes making themselves at home.
Here are some of the best snake repellent plants:
- Marigolds (Tagetes spp.): Marigolds are known for their strong scent, which many snakes find unpleasant. Planting marigolds around your garden, especially near entry points to your home, can act as a deterrent.
- Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus): Lemongrass has a citrusy fragrance that snakes may avoid. It’s a popular choice for repelling snakes and other pests. Additionally, lemongrass can be useful for culinary purposes.
- Onion and Garlic (Allium spp.): Both onion and garlic have strong odors that some snakes dislike. Planting these around your garden or yard might help discourage snakes from hanging around.
- Nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.): Nasturtiums have a peppery scent that can be off-putting to snakes. They are also attractive and can add a splash of color to your garden.
- Indian Snakeroot (Rauvolfia serpentina): As the name suggests, Indian Snakeroot is said to repel snakes. It’s a plant with medicinal properties and is used in traditional medicine for various purposes.
- Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria spp.): Also known as Snake Plant, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is believed to repel snakes. It’s an easy-to-care-for indoor plant that can also be placed outdoors in certain climates.
- Wormwood (Artemisia spp.): Wormwood has a strong fragrance that some snakes may find unappealing. It’s also used in traditional medicine and for pest control purposes.
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): While not specifically a snake repellent, the strong aroma of rosemary might make the area less appealing to snakes. Plus, it’s a wonderful herb to have in your garden.
Just know no single plant can guarantee that snakes will stay away entirely.
It’s essential to use these plants in conjunction with other preventive measures and snake repellent techniques. For example, removing potential hiding spots and keeping your yard tidy can help keep them away.
Additionally, if you encounter venomous snakes or are unsure about the snake species in your area, always seek professional assistance from local wildlife experts or pest control services.
Natural Snake Predators
Several animals in the wild serve as natural predators of snakes. These predators help to control snake populations and play an essential role in the ecosystem.
Some common natural snake predators include:
- Birds of Prey: Many raptors, such as hawks, eagles, owls, and falcons, are skilled snake hunters. Their keen eyesight and powerful talons make them efficient at capturing and consuming snakes.
- Mongoose: Mongooses are small carnivores known for their ability to take on venomous snakes. They are incredibly agile and have developed techniques to avoid snake strikes while attacking them.
- Badgers: Badgers are burrowing animals that can dig out snakes from their underground hiding spots. They have thick fur and tough skin that protects them from snake bites.
- Coyotes and Foxes: These canids are opportunistic hunters and will prey on snakes when the opportunity arises. They are particularly effective at catching snakes that are basking in the sun or moving through grassy areas.
- Monitor Lizards: Some large monitor lizards, such as the Komodo dragon, are known to eat snakes. Their powerful jaws and sharp teeth make them formidable snake predators.
- Certain Snakes: Snakes themselves can be cannibalistic, and some larger snake species will eat smaller ones, including their own kind.
- Mammals: Some larger mammals like raccoons, skunks, and opossums may occasionally prey on snakes, especially smaller species.
- Herons and Egrets: These long-legged wading birds are skilled snake hunters, particularly in wetland areas where snakes often inhabit.
- King Snakes: Interestingly, certain snake species, like the kingsnake, are known for their habit of preying on other snakes, including venomous ones. They are immune to the venom of many venomous snakes and use constriction to overpower them.
It’s essential to note that while these animals are natural predators of snakes, they typically do not completely eliminate snake populations.
Snakes also play a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance by controlling rodent and insect populations and serving as prey for other predators.
As part of maintaining a healthy ecosystem, it’s crucial to respect all creatures, including snakes, and avoid harming or needlessly removing them from their natural habitats.
If you encounter snakes in your yard or vicinity, consider adopting measures to peacefully coexist with them or seek assistance from local wildlife experts if needed.
How to Get Rid Of Snakes In Your Yard
Most snakes you encounter in your yard are harmless and prefer to avoid humans. However, it’s essential to treat all snakes with respect and caution.
If you are unsure about the species or if the snake is venomous, keep your distance and call a local wildlife expert or animal control for assistance.
1. Identify the Snake Species
Before you take any action, it’s essential to identify the type of snake in your yard. Most snakes are harmless and beneficial, helping to control pests like rodents and insects. However, a few venomous species might pose a risk.
Familiarize yourself with the snakes in your area and learn to differentiate venomous from non-venomous ones. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to contact a local wildlife expert or herpetologist for assistance.
2. Make Your Yard Less Attractive
Snakes are attracted to areas that offer suitable hiding spots and ample food sources. By making your yard less hospitable to them, you can discourage them from sticking around.
Keep your lawn well-maintained, cut down tall grass, trim bushes, and remove any clutter that could provide hiding places.
Additionally, reduce rodent populations by sealing up any potential entry points to your home, such as cracks, gaps, and holes. Furthermore, another great way to lesson snake presence is to cover your wood piles.
Piles of firewood is easy access for snakes to hide from predators. The easiest way to prevent them from making your wood pile their home is to keep it tightly covered.
3. Seal Off Snake Entry Points
To further prevent snakes from entering your property or home, seal off any openings they might use.
Inspect your foundation, crawl spaces, walls, and any utility entry points for gaps and fill them with weather-stripping, caulk, or mesh screens.
Remember, snakes can squeeze through surprisingly tiny gaps, so thoroughness is key here!
4. Employ Natural Repellents
There are several natural repellents that snakes dislike, which can help keep them away from your yard.
Some popular options include essential oils like cinnamon, clove, and cedarwood.
Sprinkle these oils around the perimeter of your property or in areas where snakes are often seen. However, it’s essential to reapply them regularly, especially after heavy rain.
5. Minimize Water Source
Water is essential for the survival of all living creatures, and snakes are no exception. They need water to drink and to regulate their body temperature, especially in hot climates.
If you have open containers for water storage, consider covering them to reduce the chances of snakes accessing the water.
6. Keep Your Yard Tidy
Regularly maintain your yard, removing debris, tall grass, and any potential hiding spots near water sources.
7. Secure Swimming Pools
If you have a swimming pool, consider installing barriers or covers to prevent snakes from accidentally falling in and getting trapped.
8. Check Before Entering
When approaching water sources like ponds or bird baths, take a moment to scan the area for any potential snakes before getting too close.
9. Install Snake-Proof Fencing
If you have specific areas of concern or want to create a snake-free zone, consider installing snake-proof fencing. This type of fencing is usually made of fine mesh or hardware cloth that prevents snakes from slithering through.
Make sure to bury the bottom edge of the fencing to deter burrowing attempts.
10. Set Snake Traps
For those who feel comfortable handling snakes, you can use humane traps to capture and relocate them.
If you choose this method, check your local laws and regulations regarding wildlife relocation, and ensure you release them into a suitable habitat far from residential areas.
11. Keep Pet Food Indoors
Pet food, whether for dogs, cats, or other animals, can emit a strong odor that may attract not only pets but also wildlife, including rodents and insects.
Hungry snakes may be drawn to areas where there is an abundance of potential prey, including rodents that are attracted to pet food.
12. Seep Professional Assistance
If you have a snake infestation or encounter a venomous species, it’s best to call professional wildlife experts or pest control services.
Professionals have the experience and knowledge to handle snakes safely and responsibly, ensuring the well-being of both you and the reptiles.
Other than the common garter snake, most people (like yourself) don’t want snakes or small rodents taking over their yard.
Snakes play a vital role in our ecosystem, so if they are not posing an immediate threat, consider letting them be and appreciate their contributions to the environment. However, if they’re crossing a line in your yard, use these tips to encourage them to find a more suitable home without resorting to harm.
With a little understanding and some preventative measures, you can create a harmonious space for both your family and your slithery neighbors. Happy snake-proofing!
Before you go, here are more posts you’ll enjoy: