As the weather warms up, snakes will begin to emerge from brumation (a state of deep sleep that reptiles and amphibians enter during periods of cold weather). Although it can be scary encountering a snake in your yard or in your home, the majority of them mean you no harm. In fact, most don’t want anything to do with humans at all! Most North American snakes are harmless and, in fact, there are only 5 venomous snakes in the state of Georgia.
The first step in preventing snakes is to figure out what is attracting them to your yard and home in the first place. Snakes will typically come around in search of either food or shelter. By eliminating these attractants, snakes will be less likely to hang around your personal space.
Snakes will often come around in search of a place to hide out from predators or to lie in wait for their own prey. Try to avoid debris and rock piles in your yard. Don’t pile rocks up in your landscaping or let other debris accumulate in your yard. Snakes will also use tall grass to hide in so keep grass mowed short and mow it frequently. Mulch attracts both snakes and their food sources. Try to use less mulch or use another type of ground cover if possible. Store firewood away from your home and elevate it if possible as snakes will hide in the cracks and crevices.
Snakes will primarily come around looking for or chasing food. Snakes are known to feed on rodents, birds, insects, and amphibians so eliminating these pests from your home and yard will also help keep snakes away. Excessive moisture attracts all of these food sources so try to avoid overwatering your lawn and getting rid of any standing water. Pick up fallen fruit as rodents and other pests love to eat them. The same goes for spilled birdseed from birdfeeders. Feed pets indoors if possible and, if not, don’t leave pet food out overnight. Keep trashcans clean and seal them tightly. Keep garages clean and clutter free. Inside, keep kitchens and other food areas clean.
Snakes will use a variety of methods to get into your home, garage, attic, or basement. Routinely inspect the exterior of your home and try to identify any potential entry points. Seal any cracks around your foundations, walkways, and porches. Consider installing fencing made of rigid mesh that is at least 2 feet tall and buried 4″ to 6″ into the ground. You can also attach aluminum flashing to the outside bottom portion of the fencing. Make sure the screens on your doors and windows are tightly sealed and in good repair. Use galvanized screens to cover your vents and drains. Close up cellar doors, broken gutters, pet doors, unsealed basement windows, open crawlspaces, and holes in your roof or siding. Keep tree branches trimmed back away from your home. Use gravel or other uneven ground cover as snakes cannot move or hide as easily on these.
When snakes are spotted around your home your first instinct is usually to either run away or get rid of it. While they can be disturbing, most snakes are actually beneficial to have around – eating other pests and keeping their populations under control. If you have an issue with snakes, contact your local pest control company who can help identify what type of snake you are dealing with and help catch and relocate it safely and humanely.
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Although many people don’t welcome the sight of a snake in their yard, they are actually quite beneficial to have around. Snakes eat mice, grubs, slugs, and other insects around your home and are also a source of food for birds of prey like hawks. While most species of snakes are non-venomous, there are a few types of snakes that are venomous in our area. For this reason, you should never handle a snake unless you are 100% sure you know what species it is. Most snakes will bite when harassed whether they are venomous or not.
There are many natural snake repellent methods out there today with one of the most common being mothballs. But are they really effective? According to experts at the Blue Ridge Poison Center the answer is a resounding NO. Mothballs are made of either naphthalene or paradicholorbenzene. Both of these chemicals are hazardous to both humans and animals if exposed to or ingested. The chemical makeup of each of these substances allow them to turn into gas when they are exposed to the air – resulting in the strong smell we usually associate with mothballs. These fumes can cause dizziness and irritation to the eyes and the lungs. If ingested, mothballs can cause a condition called hemolytic anemia which is very dangerous. Mothballs also resemble candy to young children, making them more likely to pick them up and handle or eat them.
So if mothballs aren’t the answer, how can you get rid of snakes? Here are a few snake prevention tips you can use safely around your home.
- Make your home and yard less attractive to snakes who are looking for food and shelter.
- Remove any food sources such as rodents or other pests.
- Keep pet food sealed in containers.
- Don’t leave pet food out overnight.
- Clean up spilled pet food and birdseed from the ground.
- Don’t overwater your lawn as this can attract worms, frogs, and slugs – another food source for snakes.
- Have your home inspected for rodents and other pests and maintain routine pest control treatments.
- Seal any entries into your crawlspace or basement that are larger than 1/4″.
- Make sure doorsweeps and window screens fit tightly.
- Cover vents and drains that come into the house.
- Keep grass mowed – tall grass and weeds provide more coverage for snakes from predators.
- Clean up any debris snakes can hide under (scarp metal, wood piles, trash, logs, etc.).
- Check the roof for overhanging vegetation – snakes are good climbers and can access your home from the roof.
If you have a problem with snakes or other wildlife, contact your local pest control company who can help identify pest attractants, points of entry, and provide you with safe and humane snake removal services.
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Snake season in Georgia starts in spring and runs through late fall. As the temperatures start to warm up, snake activity in our area will increase. As snakes emerge from hibernation, they will go in search of one thing: FOOD! This quest will often lead them into our backyards, gardens, and even local parks. With snake season just around the corner, now is the time to take action. Here are some snake prevention tips to help you prepare for snake season.
Clean Up Your Yard
Snakes will use anything they can find for cover. Take the time now to clean up leaf litter, fallen logs, piles of bricks and rocks or anything else snakes can use as a hiding spot. If you can’t remove them, try to elevate them off the ground. Keep your lawn and any other surrounding areas with grass mowed short. Snakes will use tall grass as cover. Low hanging growth from trees, shrubs, hedges, etc. provide natural places for snakes to climb and hide. Keep them trimmed back from your home and off the ground. Discard any mulch or grass clippings away from your property as snakes will burrow into these for a sheltered hiding space.
Inspect Your Home
Snakes will use holes in the exterior of your home to gain access inside. Carefully inspect the outside of your house for holes, making sure to check under roofs, under the house, in skirting, on garages, etc. Repair or block any openings that you find.
Snakes will often go after hatchlings and bird eggs. If you have chickens, ducks or any other birds, make sure their pens or aviaries are kept tidy and in good repair.
Eliminate Food Sources
Snakes will feed on rodents, frogs, and other insects. Keeping these pests away from your home will help keep snakes away, as well. Clean up spilled or uneaten birdseed from underneath feeders; keep outdoor trashcans sealed with tight lids; feed your pets indoors when possible; if you must feed outdoors, feed once or twice per day and bring food and water bowls indoors in between feedings; seal pet food and bird seed in plastic or metal containers with tight lids.
Moisture also attracts rodents, frogs, and other insects that snakes feed on. Eliminating moisture will help make your property less attractive to snakes. Eliminate any areas of standing water; fix leaky pipes and spigots; try to avoid overwatering your lawn; consider enclosing your crawlspace.
Get Routine Pest Control
Establishing a routine pest control service helps prevent nuisance pest problems before they get out of hand. By keeping these pest populations under control, you decrease the risk of snakes by eliminating potential food sources.
Most snakes that are encountered are non-venomous; there are some venomous snakes in our area that you should be careful to avoid, however. If you must be outdoors during snake season, wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves, and closed toed shoes. If you go outside at night, take a flashlight, lantern, or torch. If you do encounter a snake, don’t go near it and don’t try to kill it. Stay calm, keep your pets and children away, and allow the snake to move away on its own. Back away slowly. If you choose to, contact your local wildlife control company who can come and properly identify the snake and safely relocate or eliminate it.
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The last thing anyone wants to encounter when spending time outdoors is a snake. In Georgia, there are 46 native species of snakes and only 6 of those are venomous (the copperhead, pigmy rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake, cottonmouth, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and eastern coral snake). Although they can be quite scary when stumbled upon, they are actually quite beneficial to have around. Snakes are top predators, eating rats, mice, and other small mammals. Some even eat other venomous snakes! There are only an average of 8000 snakebites nationwide each year.
Snakes are most commonly found in backyards, parks, and woodlands. Many species will spend most of their time underground, only coming out to hunt and feed. Larger snakes will often shelter in brush piles or stacks of firewood. Water snakes are usually found in areas that border streams, lakes, swamps, and ponds.
Snake season officially begins in the spring, usually around March or April, and runs through late fall and winter. The end of snake season depends on weather patterns and geographic locations. In southern states with warmer climates, snakes will remain active longer than in northern states when it gets colder sooner.
Because snakes are coldblooded, they are less active in cooler months. Where do snakes go in the winter? Many snakes will go into a state of brumation, which is similar to hibernation but doesn’t require the same amount of sleep. In brumation, snakes will wake to forage for food and water, especially during warm snaps when temperatures increase periodically. Because they use less energy, they can go longer between feedings.
If you encounter a snake, whether outdoors or inside your home, there are a few tips you should keep in mind:
- Familiarize yourself with the venomous snake species common in your area and how to recognize them.
- Try to identify the snake without getting too close to it.
- Give the snake space.
- If spending time outdoors, wear closed-toed shoes and long pants.
- Remove any brush, log piles and other attractants for rodents from around your home.
- Seal up any cracks, gaps, and holes that snakes can use to get into.
- Remember that non-venomous snakes are protected by law in Georgia.
Although snake bites are rare, it’s best to leave handling and removal of snakes to the professionals. If you encounter a snake in or near your property, contact a wildlife control company who can safely and quickly remove the offending snake.
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Snakes are one of the most feared pests homeowners can find in their yards. The likelihood of snakes coming onto your property depends on several factors like your location, surrounding landscape, nearby water source, available food supply, and your landscaping and maintenance. While the first instinct is usually to either run or get rid of it quickly, snakes can actually be pretty beneficial to have around. Instead of killing snakes, some people prefer to try and repel them to keep them from coming into the yard in the first place, or deter them from staying there if they’ve already taken up residence. There are several snake repellent products on the market, but do any of them really work? Here are some of the most common snake repellents, the reasons why you should avoid them, and some snake prevention tips you can use around your home.
Mothballs are one of the most popular snake repellent products. The active ingredient in mothballs is either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Both of these products are known to be toxic to insects and mammals but are actually not effective on snakes (because they are actually reptiles). In fact, naphthalene has been proven to cause illness in humans (especially children) and pets. Additionally, using mothballs outside the home actually violates their product labels.
Sulfur is another common snake repellent ingredient and is often seen in many commercial snake repellent products on the market. Sulfur has been proven to not be effective against snakes, however, much the same as mothballs.
When snakes are terrorizing a chicken coop, many people will use ceramic or wooden eggs or even golf balls to trick snakes into eating them instead of real chicken eggs. The problem, however, is that when snakes eat these fake eggs they die a long, slow, painful death over the course of many weeks. Once they’re gone, another snake will often show up and take its place, defeating the purpose of eliminating the original snake. If you are using ceramic eggs to encourage your hens to lay, make sure to glue them down so snakes can’t eat them accidentally.
Releasing Other Snakes
Many people will catch and release predatory snakes like king snakes and racers onto their property to hunt and kill the problematic snakes they have. This practice is usually unsuccessful and in some places is even against the law. The same goes for capturing the problematic snakes on your property and releasing them elsewhere.
Some people will lay out sticky traps in hopes of catching the nuisance snake so they can kill it or relocate it. The problem with this method is that the sticky traps will often catch non-targeted animals instead of the snake, resulting in a slow, agonizing death for the animal.
Many people employ guns or shovels to kill snakes that come onto their property. This puts people at great risk for injury either from the snake going on the defensive and biting its attacker or from the homeowner or innocent bystanders being injured by ricocheting bullets, etc. Once the snake is killed, it is often replaced by another snake that takes its place. A better deterrent for snakes is to spray them with a blast from the water hose. This encourages them to find a new location without harming them or anyone else.
Instead of using ineffective snake repellent products and methods, consider going to the source of the problem to help get rid of it. Snakes will come into your yard because they are attracted to something there – whether it is a water source, food source, or a place to shelter. Eliminating what attracts them will help keep them out and encourage them to find a different location to live in. Here are some snake prevention tips you can utilize to help make your yard less inviting to them.
- Feed your pets inside. Rodents are attracted to pet food and snakes are attracted to rodents. By feeding and watering pets inside or bringing their food and water bowls inside when not in use is a good way to help prevent rodents which, in turn, helps prevent snakes.
- Clean up debris. Debris and leaf piles in your yard are a huge attractant to rodents which will then attract snakes. These piles also provide excellent sources of shelter for snakes to hide. Clean up any debris piles (sticks, brush, tree limbs, etc) and piles of leaves or mulch them to get rid of them.
- Cut the grass. Tall grass provides ideal cover for snakes to hide in. Keeping the grass cut shorter gives them less coverage and also makes them much easier to spot in your yard.
- Avoid birdhouses. Snakes will eat small birds, as well as rodents who feed on spilled birdseed. Some snakes are also excellent climbers and will use this to their advantage to feast on birds feeding on the feeders. If you do use a birdhouse, make sure it is placed on a metal pole or a wood post that is wrapped in metal sheeting. You can also try to avoid using the bird feeder until the colder months when snakes are less active and less likely to frequent the area.
- Use up firewood. Woodpiles make an excellent spot for snakes to hide in, especially over winter. Try to use up all of your firewood before the weather warms up and snakes become more active. If you don’t use it all up, try to keep it stored at least 1 foot off the ground.
- Clean up fallen fruit. Fallen fruit from trees and plants will attract a variety of pests including rodents. Snakes will then follow these rodents as a food source. Make sure to pick up and dispose of any fallen fruit on a regular basis.
- Get rid of mulch. Mulch and pine straw home to several invertebrates that are a prime food source for snakes. Snakes will also use this groundcover as shelter for themselves. Consider using an alternative to mulch or pine straw in your landscape design. The same goes for using large rocks in your landscaping. Snakes like to get under these large rocks to breed and overwinter during the colder months.
- Avoid garden ponds. Garden ponds are another landscaping feature that draw snakes in. It is a readily available source of water. It also attracts frogs and other animals that snakes will gravitate to as a food source.
- Trim trees and shrubs. Overgrown trees and shrubs provide cover and shelter for snakes. Keep tree branches and shrubs trimmed back so they are not touching the house or garage. Branches should also be trimmed so they are off the ground, ideally with a 24″ to 36″ space underneath. This not only helps eliminate places for snakes to take cover but also helps make them easier to spot if they do get under them.
- Install a perch pole. Natural predators to snakes, such as hawks and owls, will be attracted to a perch pole. This is a good way to utilize natural resources for snake prevention. Place the perch pole in an open area of your yard so the birds will have a good view of the entire area.
- Install fencing. If all else fails, consider installing fencing to keep snakes out. Fencing should be buried a few inches into the ground and should be made up of 1/4″ or smaller rigid mesh. The fencing should also have a bend at the top to keep snakes from being able to climb over it. Some companies even make wildlife specific fencing options.
The large majority of snakes you will encounter in your yard are harmless to humans. All snakes (even venomous snakes) are beneficial and play an important role in the ecosystem. Many snakes eat garden pests like slugs and snails, helping protect your plants and flowers. Some snakes eat rodents, helping control their populations and keeping them from spreading diseases to you, your family, your pets, and your livestock. There are even studies showing where rattlesnakes help keep Lyme disease in check. If you’ve tried the tips above and you still have an issue with snakes or any other pests, contact your local pest control company for a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan.
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