Guide to a Snake Free Yard
Many things can attract snakes to your property.
To reduce that snake population,
here is what you need to know right now.
A snake will always look for a place to hide. Snakes are normally not found out in the middle of a clean and open yard, but rather in brush piles, under houses, leaves and other debris. Eliminate areas where snakes may want to hide. Low growing shrubbery should be trimmed up off the ground. Plants such as ivy, juniper, monkey grass, lantana and other low growing vegetation that hide the ground around them should only exist in areas you are comfortable with snakes living. Pine straw is often used in flower beds and around homes. While pine straw itself doesn't necessarily attract snakes, it does afford them an easy place to burrow and hide once they find it. Instead of pine straw, consider using mulch, bark or rock. These do not repel snakes but, snakes have a tougher time trying to hide underneath it. Storage items can harbor snakes as well. The underside of lawnmowers are favorite haunts but they seem to love the nooks and cranies of stacks of fire wood even more. Stacking firewood and other items up, off the ground helps tremendously. Yard debris such as dead leaves, limbs and branches should always be removed and never left in a pile on or near the property.
Following the scent trails of prey can often be what leads a snake to your yard to begin with. Once a snake arrives, an ample food supply and hiding places make it want to stay. Bird feeders attract more than birds. They also attract snakes. As bird seed falls from the feeder, mice are attracted to the area in addition to birds, squirrels and other rodents. (Only feed birds in winter. This is when birds need it the most and snakes are not actively searching for food during this time.) Feeding birds, squirrels, deer and even pets can contribute to a snake finding your yard suitable. When feeding pets outdoors, only provide an appropriate amount of food for them to consume in one sitting. Left over cat or dog food or food or food meant for other wildlife is often carried off by rats and mice when no one's around. Just as a K-9 tracks the scent trail of a criminal, a snake tracks the scent trail left by its prey as it wanders around your yard gathering bits of food. Another thing to consider is night time lighting. Porch lights attract moths. Moths attract frogs and toads and some snakes love frogs and/or toads for dinner. Also, do not leave garbage or any other items lying around for long periods of time that may begin to attract mice and rats. Some natural food sources on your property may not be easy to curb. For instance, oak trees produce acorns. Acorns attract squirrels, mice and rats. In cases where you can’t control natural food sources, changing the habitat by reducing the snakes available hiding places becomes even more important if your goal is to see very few snakes.
Snake Repellents (no matter which brand you buy) Do Not Repel Snakes!
Diet, body temperature and other biological aspects of snakes complicate the potential for developing such snake controls. In our opinion, anyone who tries to sell you snake repellant either does not know what they're doing or are just trying to take your money.
Moth Balls Do Not Repel Snakes! Moth balls contain a chemical known as naphthalene and/or paradichlorobenzene. Both chemicals are suspected cancer causing agents. If you apply mothballs to your home or outside property, they begin to produce a gas as a result of a chemical reaction that happens when it is exposed to the air. If you can smell the pungent odor produced by the mothballs, then you are inhaling the gas that causes much more harm than it ever will good.
Lime Does Not Repel Snakes. It is often thought that a perimeter of lime burns the belly of the snake preventing it from wanting to enter beyond the chemical barrier. A snakes skin is covered with scales that greatly help prevent such chemical burns. So, lime is not effective.
The strong smell of sulfur is said to negatively affect a snakes ability to detect scent with its tongue via the Jacobson’s organ located in the roof of its mouth. To be effective, sulfur would have to be used in such great amounts that people would also not be able to inhabit the area.
Other Chemical Controls
Many other chemicals and various home remedies are often suggested for repelling snakes and most have been scientifically tested. These include mothballs, lime, sulfur, cayenne pepper spray, cinnamon, gourd vines, a tacky bird repellant, sisal rope, coal tar, creosote, artificial skunk scent and musk from a king snake (king snakes eat other snakes). None of these remedies prevented the snakes from crossing them.
So what does all this mean?
We cannot totally prevent snakes from entering our property but we can lessen the chance of them choosing to stay in areas that are heavily trafficked by people. Instead of living in fear, we must learn to co-exist with snakes and understand that they play a very valuable role in the environment and even in your backyard. To insist that your property MUST be snake free is a battle you’ll definitely lose. Instead, learn which snakes are dangerous. Most of them are not. As you remove hiding places and food sources, snakes will feel more comfortable bypassing your property for your neighbors.
What can you do right now?
Consider having a licensed professional from Southeastern Reptile Rescue visit your property for an evaluation. We can help you understand what will and will not work for your unique situation and can also remove nuisance snakes that may be found there.
Call us at 404-557-2470 for more information.