Unlike rabbits and squirrels, snakes are not welcome around most home gardens and porches. Many people fear these reptiles, whether or not they are venomous, so it can be unpleasant to find one slithering around your flowers or underneath your lawn chair, even in your home.
"For a lot of people, the thought of a snake in their yard or inside their home can be quite unsettling," said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist. "Fortunately, snakes, as with most other creatures, don't want anything to do with the human population. They're likely invading your space because they're looking for food and shelter."
Luckily for people, there are many ways to prevent these sneaky reptiles from taking up residence in their yards.
How to Keep Snakes Off Your Property
1. Keep your grass short
It is important to move your lawn. "The first thing I tell people is keep your grass cut to a short or reasonable length," co-chair for Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) Chris Petersen informed. "Snakes are cautious about traveling across groomed grass because it exposes them to predators, particularly raptors such as hawks and owls." Short grass simplifies the process of spotting these intruders and keeping an eye on their activities.
2. Don't overwater your lawn
To effectively discourage snakes, it's important to prevent their prey from gathering nearby. Thus, refrain from excessive lawn watering, as marshy areas and stagnant water often draw creatures such as frogs, slugs, and worms – attractive snacks for snakes. By depriving them of sustenance and hiding spots, you'll greatly reduce the likelihood of snakes taking up residence on your premises.
3. Trim your trees and bushes
Speaking of shelter, it's a good idea to maintain well-trimmed trees and bushes, and promptly clear away any fallen branches, wood, or clutter. Snakes have a knack for slithering around while staying hidden (after all, they're wary of birds of prey), so eliminating these hiding spots can effectively discourage them from lingering in the area.
4. Put pet food inside
In the same way, you should prevent frogs and slugs from coming to your yard, you need to prevent another kind of prey from creeping in. "Snakes are carnivores, though some will feed on insects, so they are primarily seeking out rodents such as mice, moles, rats, and even birds," said Petersen. Therefore, it's important to avoid attracting rodents by, for instance, leaving dog or cat food outside. "That will bring in the rodents, which will bring in the snakes," said Petersen. So if you feed your pet in your yard, remove uneaten food before going inside.
5. Keep bird feeders away from the house
Likewise, bird feeders might also lure in prey for snakes. "Birds can be messy eaters that fling seeds around," Petersen said. "Seed will lay on the ground, and that will bring in rodents as well."
6. Pick snake-repelling plants
There isn't a single magical plant that guarantees snake deterrence. Therefore, it's advisable to first identify the specific snake species you're aiming to discourage before heading to a garden center. Some plants worth researching include:
* Mother-In-Law's Tongue
This desert plant has the ability to repel snakes due to its pointy and rigid leaves that create an inhospitable surface for them to crawl across.
In a similar vein, holly bushes boast a prickly demeanor that snakes find quite uncomfortable to engage with.
Within their composition lies a chemical known as pyrethrum, which proves fatal for specific snake species.
These lovely flowers emit a potent fragrance that's detested by numerous snakes as well as insects.
Yet another pungent plant that snakes absolutely can't tolerate.
While this herb might be delectable and enticing to humans, its aroma doesn't sit well with snakes.
7. Use natural repellents
If you like using things from nature to keep snakes away (or if you don't want to go to the store), you can test a few options. Some natural things that snakes don't like are vinegar, sulfur, cloves, and cinnamon oil. Snakes can smell well, so sprinkle these things on your lawn, especially where you saw snakes before. Snakes also really don't like the smell of smoke. So, if you have a fire pit, light it and let the smoke hang around for a few days.
What to do if you see a snake
While the impulse might be there, it's best to avoid attempting to kill a snake if you encounter one on your premises. "Most people are bitten when trying to kill or handle a snake. My recommendation — if you are not sure what species you are encountering in your yard, garden or home — is to assume that it is venomous and to be very cautious around it but opt for a non-lethal way to resolve the situation," Petersen shared. He recommends using a hose to spray it until it departs on its own.
Attempting to eliminate a snake without professional expertise is risky, and it also has negative implications for the environment. These creatures fulfill vital roles, such as controlling pests like rodents and serving as prey for other animals like raptors, foxes, and bears. "When you have snakes in your environment, that represents a healthy ecosystem. It's important to have them around because they provide ecological value," said Peterson.
If you're worried about snakes that can hurt you, check out the websites of your local state wildlife groups, schools, or clubs that study reptiles. They can tell you about the animals you usually find in your state and teach you how to identify snakes that might be dangerous. Some snakes are actually helpful in your garden, especially the ones that eat pests like mice, slugs, and snails. So, before you try to get rid of them, make sure you learn more.