To Reduce Snakes Clean Up the Yard

Eastern garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) in lawn grass. Lively, Ontario, Canada.
Eastern garter snake. Don Johnston/All Canada Photos/Getty Images

Snakes have been both worshipped and despised throughout history. But if you have unwanted yard snakes in your home or on your property -- you're probably not especially thrilled to have them there! (Unless, of course, it is a pet snake, in which case you're probably more interested in Pet Snake Pictures!) Although snakes feed on rodents, lizards and insects, so can be beneficial, unwanted snakes are generally considered to be pests.

Back Away From Snakes

While in general, the odds of dying from a snake bite are lower than being struck by lightning, about a dozen people die in North America every year from snake venom. Like many spiders, snakes don't usually bite unless they feel threatened, e.g., if cornered, handled or stepped-on. But the primary use of their venom is to subdue prey, defense is a distant second. So, if you see a snake and it does not appear to back away, back away yourself keeping your eyes on it until you are at a safe distance.

It is not within the scope of this site to give medical advice but if you are bitten, try to be calm, wash the wound area with soap and water, cover it and keep it lower than the heart. Seek medical attention immediately. Absolutely, do not use ice nor tie on a tight tourniquet above the wound site. (See How to Treat and Prevent Snake Bites for more information.)

Snakes in the RV

Above all else, if you live, work, camp or play in snake-prone areas, learn which snakes are dangerous, what they look like and what habitats they prefer. Some snakes lay eggs, others carry eggs that hatch inside the body. My family once found a 4-foot-long skin on the kitchen table of my mother's mobile home which had been shut up for a while. Needless to say, no one slept very well that night. Another time, we found that a snake had swallowed the light bulb kept in the hen laying box. No, we did not pull its tail to see if it would light up.

Keep Snakes Away

Depending on the location, maintaining a snake-free environment may not be advised or possible. But keeping grass and weeds low, trimming shrubs, removing piles of rubbish, rocks, logs and boards, stacking firewood off the ground, covering compost piles and removing bird feeders will help keep down populations of rodents, frog and lizards. Because these are prey that snakes prefer, reducing this attraction can help reduce snakes. It will also limit harborage areas for the snakes to hide, so your home and property is less attractive as well.

There are no proven commercial snake repellents, but experiments using a Naphthalene and sulfur combination have shown promise.