With warm weather here to stay in the South, snakes are out in full force. Spring marks the beginning of snake season as they emerge from their winter dens in search of food. While most snakes are harmless (there are only a few venomous snake species in Georgia), it can be disconcerting to come across one in your yard.
What many homeowners don’t realize is that they could be inadvertently attracting snakes to their property. Here are some of the most common things that attract snakes to your yard along with some ways to prevent them.
Snakes typically eat a few times per week when food sources are available. While their diet varies by species, most snakes feed on small rodents (like mice) and birds. Having an abundance of these favorite foods around your home will draw snakes to your yard.
- Inspect your yard for signs of rodents. Because they are usually not seen during the day, these pests can be present without you even realizing it. Look for holes and burrows in the ground which they use to hide from predators. Sometimes you can even find droppings in your yard. If the population is large enough, you may even see visible tracks in the grass.
- Clean up your property. Don’t leave any old food or garbage lying around rodents can use to feed on. Clean up grills regularly and keep them covered, as well.
- Keep your lawn mowed and bushes and shrubs trimmed.
- Rodents will also hide in piles of wood or in sheds/garages. Block any entrances they can use to access exterior buildings. Keep wood piles covered and elevated.
- Bring in bird feeders overnight and clean up any spilled birdseed.
- Don’t leave pet food and water out overnight.
Snakes need water to survive. Some species even thrive in wet environments. Common water sources include rain puddles, water features, birdbaths, pools, and ponds/lakes.
- Birdbaths not only provide a source of water but they also attract birds, another common food source for snakes. If possible, raise your birdbaths and keep them farther away from your home.
- After a rainstorm, take note of where puddles form in your yard. Use dirt or soil to fill them in or even these low lying areas out.
- Keep pools maintained with appropriate treatments and cleaning.
- Lakes and ponds house fish, frogs, and birds which are another source of food for snakes. Trim the grass and plants around any bodies of water on your property. Consider building a small fence around it that snakes cannot climb over.
Snakes will seek shelter wherever they can find it. Tall grass and overgrown shrubs provide the perfect cover for snakes from predators and also allows them to camouflage themselves when sneaking up on their prey.
- Keep landscaping maintained throughout the season.
- Keep grass mowed short. The blades of your grass should be short enough that they don’t arch over. This creates a tunnel snakes can use to move through.
- Use an edger or weedwhacker to trim tall grass and weeds from fence lines, as well.
- Avoid overwatering your lawn. Not only does overwatering make the grass grow faster and need to be mowed more often, it also attracts frogs, toads, and other pests that are a good alternative food source for snakes.
- Keep shrubs and bushes trimmed so that there is no contact between the shrubs and the ground. This helps eliminate hiding spots for snakes.
Snakes are coldblooded and prefer to spend most of their time when not hunting in cool, dark, humid environments. This keeps them from overheating and allows them to cool off after a hunt. Snakes can often be found hiding in wood piles, bushes, garages, and sheds.
- Try to make these common hiding places less attractive to snakes.
- Keep open spaces cleared. Clean up woodpiles, debris, rock piles, pool toys and accessories, children’s toys, etc. Snakes will look for anything that can pile up and remain undisturbed to hide out in.
- Most snake species thrive when humidity is between 40 and 50%. Consider using a dehumidifier in garages and sheds to keep humidity levels lower.
- Check your foundations and the exterior of your home/other buildings. Gaps and cracks in foundations, exterior walls, garages, and sheds provide the ideal hiding spot for snakes. Repair gaps, cracks, and holes immediately.
Most snakes aren’t harmful to humans and, in fact, can be beneficial to have around as they help keep other pest populations under control. If you have a problem with snakes, contact your local pest control company for a snake removal and prevention plan that best suits your situation.
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If you live in an area where snakes are common, chances are you may stumble across one at some point. Snakes, like any other pest, are usually in search of three things: food, water, and shelter. Oftentimes the area around our homes provides all of these things that attract snakes.
The likelihood of a snake on your property depends on several factors, including location (north vs south), landscape (urban vs rural), a nearby water source (pond, lake, river), how well your lawn is landscaped and maintained, and how readily a food supply is available.
When dealing with snakes, it is important to identify the type of snake you are dealing with: venomous snakes should be left to a professional to eliminate while non-venomous snakes can often be deterred with natural snake repellent techniques. Here are 4 ways to keep snakes out of your yard:
1. Scare Them Off
One of the easiest ways to scare off a snake from your yard is to use your garden hose. Spray the snake with a steady stream from the hose until he slithers off. Consider installing a perch pole for hawks, owls, and other natural snake predators to alight on. Be sure to place it in an open area so the birds have a good view of your yard and the surrounding area.
2. Repel Them Away
There are some natural products and at-home techniques you can use for snake prevention. Ammonia is a common snake repellent. Snakes hate the smell of ammonia and won’t come near it. Soak rags in ammonia and place them in unsealed plastic bags. Leave the bags where you usually see snakes to keep them away.
You can also use vinegar to keep snakes and other pests out of your swimming pool. Pour white vinegar around the perimeter of the pool. Snakes can absorb the vinegar through their skin, so they will avoid slithering over it once it’s poured on the ground. Snakes also try to avoid humans at all costs. Save hair from your hairbrush and scatter it around the perimeter of your property to help keep snakes away.
3. Don’t Invite Them In
Snakes will come into your yard in search of food, water, and shelter. Eliminating these three basic necessities will make them much less likely to pay you a visit. Mow your grass often and keep it cut short. Shorter grass means more exposure to predators like hawks and coyotes and also makes them much easier for you to spot.
Avoid overwatering your lawn, as this can attract snake food sources like frogs, worms, and slugs. Keep trees, shrubs, and branches trimmed away from the sides of your house, the roof, and the ground. Try to keep a 24 to 36-inch space cleared under trees and shrubs, as this reduces the chance of snakes using them for cover and makes them easier to spot. Move bird feeders away from the house or get rid of them altogether.
Birds often leave seeds scattered underneath which attracts rodents that, in turn, attract snakes. Keep bird seed and pet food stored in metal cans with tight-fitting lids.
Make sure your woodpile is kept away from the home and elevated if possible. When designing your landscaping, try not to use mulch or large rocks, as these create breeding grounds and overwintering habitats for snakes. Instead, try to use smaller, tight-fitting rocks like gravel or river rock. Also, try to avoid using water features and Koi ponds as the water can also attract snakes.
4. Lock Them Out
Snakes can be very persistent pests, and keeping them out can be difficult. Carefully inspect the outside of your home and seal any cracks or crevices you find on the house, sidewalk, and foundations. Consider installing fencing around your yard, garden, or pool.
Fencing should be buried a few inches into the ground and constructed using 1/4″ rigid mesh or solid sheeting. Fencing should also include a bend at the top to prevent snakes from climbing up and over. There are some companies that even make wildlife-specific fencing.
The best way to prevent snakes is to take steps to keep them out in the first place. Dealing with snakes can be dangerous, depending on the type of snake you have. If you have a snake problem, contact animal control or a professional wildlife control company that can help safely trap, relocate, or remove the nuisance snake from your home.
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