As the season shifts from summer to early fall, cooler weather is around the corner. Many pests begin the hustle and bustle of preparing for winter – scavenging and storing food, finding a place to hibernate, or making their way into your home to overwinter. This time of year sees an increase in one pest in particular – snakes! Fall is a time for high snake activity and encounters with humans become more common.
There are many reasons snake control is important in the fall. As the leaves begin to change colors to red, orange, and brown and fall to the ground, they provide the ideal camouflage for snakes. Fall is also the time snakes begin to prepare for brumation and/or hibernation. Most snake species breed in the spring and eggs are hatched by the time autumn rolls around. These juvenile snakes are curious and more likely to be seen by humans. There are 6 venomous snake species in the southeastern United States and each of them actually breed in the fall. This means this time of year males will be actively seeking females to breed with, increasing your chance of an encounter with them. Overdevelopment in many areas has also depleted the natural habitats of many snakes, also increasing their chances of encounters with humans.
Because we see such an increase in snake activity during the fall, snake control becomes much more important. Here are some of our favorite snake prevention tips you can utilize this snake season.
- Familiarize Yourself. Identifying snakes is critical to avoiding and preventing them. Do some research and find out which snakes are common in your area, what they look like, and where to find them. Identify any areas you spend time in outdoors that could potentially house snakes and try to avoid them.
- Be Aware. Be aware of your surrounding when spending time outdoors. Look down when walking and check overhead when in wooded areas. Try to spot snakes before you walk right up on them.
- Avoid Habitats. Snakes like to hide in areas that provide them protection and coverage from predators. They can often be found in tall grass, overgrowth, on or under large rocks, rock piles, and wood piles. If you have to walk through these areas, keep your feet and legs protected, keep your eyes open
- Walk With Confidence. Snakes don’t have ears so they can’t actually hear you coming but they do respond to vibrations in the ground and can feel you coming before they actually see you. When walking outdoors walk with strong, confident steps and make your presence known.
- Cover Up. If you choose to spend time outdoors, make sure to wear closed-toe shoes and long pants if possible. Try to avoid sandals and flip flops as they leave your feet and toes exposed to potential snakebites.
- Look Up. Some types of snakes can actually climb trees and will even use overlapping branches to move from tree to tree without ever touching the ground. When walking or boating through wooded areas make sure to look up and keep an eye out for overhead snakes.
- Clean Up. Making your home and yard less inviting to snakes will help keep them from coming in. Seal any cracks and crevices on the outside of your home to keep snakes out in search of warmth and food. Remove any debris and clutter from your yard and garage. Keep woodpiles elevated and stored away from your home. Clear any overgrowth from your yard.
- Use snake repellent. There are many commercial snake repellent products on the market today. If you prefer a more green snake control option, there are also natural snake repellents you can make at home. Choose whichever option works best for you.
- Call the Pros. Snake control can be a daunting task. If you have a problem with snakes around your home, contact your local pest control company who can help identify what type of snake you are dealing with and help safely and humanely get them away from your property.
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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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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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