Most North American snakes are non-poisonous and good for our gardens, feasting on many of the pests that dig up our yards and damage our plants. However, that's little consolation if you're afraid of snakes or just plain don't want them around your family and pets. If you've seen snakes around your home, and you'd like to get rid of them, try these natural methods.
01 of 07
Clean up Your Yard
Tall grass, brush piles, and stacks of junk are the perfect habitat for mice, rats, and insects, which makes them the perfect habitat for snakes, too. Eliminate these spots from your yard, and the snakes are likely to go elsewhere. Some issues to address:
- Wood piles
- Rock piles
- Overgrown shrubs
- Overgrown grass or weeds
- Fallen trees
- Scrap piles
- Compost piles
- Garden sheds and outbuildings that are in poor repair (making them easy to access)
02 of 07
Target Your Other Pest Problems
Snakes eat moles, voles, mice, rats, crickets, slugs and a whole range of insects. If you have a known problem with any of these pests, work to correct it, so your yard is no longer an easy source of food.
03 of 07
Secure Your Outdoor Pets
Snakes will snatch eggs out of a chicken coop and bunnies out of a hutch, so if you have small backyard animals, know that snakes view them as another easy source of food. Take pains to secure your animal enclosures against predators, so snakes have one less reason to hang around your yard.
Some things to consider:
- Wrap the entire cage in hardware cloth (including the floor).
- Cover any vents in the wall or roof with hardware cloth.
- Keep the door closed at all times, so they don't have an easy point of entry.
- Repair/replace damaged boards, roofing material, and hardware cloth swiftly, so there aren't any vulnerabilities.
04 of 07
Mulch With Sharp Materials
Spread holly leaves, pine cones, rock chips, eggshells, rose bush clippings and other uncomfortable-to-slither-over materials in the areas that you want to keep snakes out of (like your vegetable garden and the flower beds right up against your house).Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Eliminate Wet Areas
Snakes prefer cool, damp areas, so do what you can to eliminate water sources on your property. Address drainage issues; trim your shrubs to get them up off the ground; rake up the remains of last year's leaves; and remove all sources of standing water, including birdbaths and slow-draining flower pots. Anything you can do to dry up your yard and bring in more sunlight will help to send snakes on their way.
06 of 07
Seal Your Home
Keep snakes out of your home by inspecting the exterior for possible entry points every spring and fall. Snakes are good at fitting into tight spots so even a tiny gap under a door or around a window could be a vulnerability. Drains and vents are another potential entry point, so make sure all HVAC, dryer, bathroom and gas vents are covered with screens. This will also help to keep birds and mice out of your home, so it's an all-around good measure to take. Sometimes snakes venture indoors to prey upon house pests. If you have a problem with mice, clearing it up could help with your snake problem, too.
07 of 07
Allow Good Snakes to Stay
Some non-venomous snakes, like kingsnakes, milk snakes, black racers and indigo snakes eat venomous snakes. So, if you see them in your yard, consider allowing them to stay. They may take care of your rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths for you.
Just don't try to relocate any of these snakes to your yard from other areas. If they weren't already living in your yard, they probably won't thrive there, and moving snakes is often illegal.
Familiarize yourself with the venomous snakes in your area, so you know which ones you need to worry about. Then, share the information with your kids.
“Coping With Snakes" Colorado State Extension
Reducing Snake Problems Around Homes | Mississippi State University Extension Service.