Why You Have Snakes in Your Yard, and How to Keep the Bad Ones Out

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Photo: MLArduengo (Shutterstock)

People tend to have strong opinions about snakes—usually either finding them fascinating (in some cases, enough so to keep one as a pet), or absolutely terrifying and repulsive to the point of getting (bad) chills just looking at a photo of one. But feelings aside, for some people with yards, snakes are very much a reality.

Of course, there are different kinds of snakes on different kinds of missions. Some are harmless and provide you with free pest control. Others are venomous, and probably not something you want slithering around your home. Here’s a quick look at why you’re finding snakes in your yard, and how to keep the potentially harmful ones away.

Find out what type of snake(s) you’re dealing with

Snakes are fast and sneaky, making them difficult to identify. So how can you tell the difference between one that’s harmless and one that’s potentially venomous? Unless you, yourself, are a snake expert, this is something best left to professionals.

If you’re able to snap a photo of the snake at a safe distance, do so, and then contact your state wildlife agency. Someone will help you ID the snake and provide further instructions on what to do next. But please don’t get too close to the snake and definitely don’t try to pick it up or touch it.

Why snakes are attracted to your yard

According to a guide to dealing with snakes on ThisOldHouse.com, snakes are typically in your yard looking for food and/or shelter. Some of their favorite foods include:

  • Rats
  • Mice
  • Moles
  • Fish
  • Frogs
  • Small farm animals
  • Slugs
  • Snails
  • Grasshoppers

So if you have any of these animals or other critters in, around, or near your property, they may be what is bringing all the snakes to your yard. You may also be providing snakes with shelter, including:

  • Thick brush
  • Dense piles of compost or leaves
  • Areas of water
  • Broken gutters
  • Firewood containers

How to keep potentially harmful snakes away from your yard

If, after consulting with a local wildlife agency, you find out that the snakes hanging out in your yard pose some sort of a threat—and aren’t just the harmless kinds that are part of your local ecosystem and food chain—here are a few ways to deter them from slithering onto your property, courtesy of the editorial team at ThisOldHouse.com:

Stop providing them with shelter

Snakes have predators, too, and like to hide from them in warm sheltered places like piled hoses, open areas under sheds, storage areas, and the places listed above. Remove, block, or take other steps necessary to take away their hiding spots.

Get rid of areas with standing water

Some types of snakes nest near standing water, so if you have any areas with poor drainage where water tends to pool, find a way to remove them. The standing water won’t necessarily be out in the open, so check near coiled hoses and in your garden, too.

Feed your pets inside

Your dog may enjoy dining al fresco, but don’t leave their food sitting outside when they’re not eating it. Their food attracts rodents and insects, which then become food for snakes.

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