Non-venomous snakes are generally not a danger to people or pets, but being startled by one living close to your house is rarely experienced as a pleasant surprise. If you want to get rid of snakes living around your home, this common sense guide explains how to eliminate the things that attract snakes and how to seal up potential entry points that snakes might use to get inside your home.
First, though, it’s worth considering the useful role a snake or two plays in your backyard ecosystem. Their main job, and one they
take quite seriously, is consuming small rodents, particularly those that homeowners don’t like to see around their home. This, among other reasons, means that whenever possible, snakes should be left unharmed, so they can continue their useful work. Meanwhile, there are things you can do to discourage them from establishing your yard as their permanent residence.
Snakes are attracted to yards that have hiding places—both for themselves and for their prey. Things to eliminate are piles of debris, rocks, or wood, as well as cracks in cement porches or walks, and access to any space under a shed floor or similar outbuilding. These places may be used for cover, temporary shelter, or hibernation, so be sure no snakes are present before sealing up entry points.
Another attractant is food. The old real estate adage—“Location, location, location”—applies equally to wildlife, so make sure you are not creating a snake’s all-you-can-eat prey buffet outside your home. Do you leave pet food out? Is there lots of spilled birdseed under your feeders? Do you leave your garbage outside unsecured? These things all attract animals on a snake’s menu. By more carefully managing these food sources, you’ll reduce your yard’s appeal to snakes’ prey, thus making your home less of an ”ideal location” for snakes looking for a place to live.
Exclusion—steps to keeping them out
If a snake may be inside your home, you’ll need to follow the two-step exclusion process explained in “What to Do About Snakes in Your Basement,” enabling the snake to exit before you complete the final steps of sealing access points. Also, in fall or winter, a snake may be hibernating in your basement and will, therefore, need an exit in the spring.
Otherwise, if you know that you do not have a snake inside, and merely want to prevent one from entering, you can complete the inspection and sealing steps below.
- Inspection: Search for cracks or holes 1/8 inch or larger. Start at the foundation, examining cracks around basement windows and doors, unsealed wires or pipe conduits, and cracks in cement steps or along porches where they are attached to your home. Look for access points as high as the eaves and roof, because trees, stonewalls, and chimneys provide climbing snakes access to higher openings.
- Sealing: After identifying all possible snake entrances, seal them, using heavy-gauge wire mesh or matching the original building materials.
- Maintaining: Periodically check your home’s exterior for possible entry points, as they develop naturally when materials deteriorate and/or unexpectedly when various animals attempt to seek shelter.
By keeping your home and yard maintained in these practical ways, you can keep snakes from making themselves at home too close for your comfort, while allowing them to continue their helpful ecological role in your surrounding area.
CDC info on: avoiding and dealing with venomous snakebites: