Problems With Snakes: House & Yard
By Steve W. Thompson

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| Snakes in the bathroom | Snakes in the house | Snakes in the yard |

| Glue boards | Repellents | Capturing and removing snakes - snake tongs |

My Other Pages

Unique Snake Gifts & Leather Products

Prairie Rattlesnake

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Snakes are everyone's friends, aren't they ???? Who thinks a nonvenomous snake, such as a garter snake could possibly cause a CONCERN? For people having problems with snakes, they will need to locate the site(s) where the snakes are entering a building or where the problem animals are living to eliminate the problem.

I have worked with various snake complaints since 1974. What kind of calls or complaints have I received over the years? One family had to keep a board below the seat of their bathroom stool? Before they could sit down on the bathroom stool, they had to lift the board and make sure there was not a snake in the water below!!!! In this case, the country farm house had the septic tank with an above ground drain field for the sewer system. The garter snakes were entering the drain pipe at the end of the sewer line, crawling in through the pipe, the septic tank, through elbows, traps, and into the house via the bathroom stool. They installed a new septic tank system with an underground drain field lined with rocks and never had the snake problem again.

One individual was finding live garter snakes throughout her house, in the cupboards, under the rugs, and even found a garter snake in between the bed sheets one night. Her son was taking a bath, one night and had a snake fall off some water pipes along the ceiling and joined company with the young boy in the tub. I wonder who came out of the bath tub first??? This concerned lady had already captured and killed over 100 snakes. Fumigation with some type of gas was out, because of the food in the house, potential problems later with trapped gas, and let alone the odor of dead snakes decomposing in the walls and who knows wherever else the snakes were living. A no win situation, I can only assume the lady moved out of the house.

Another lady had garter snakes in the low growing evergreens in the front of her house. She had various encounters with the snakes, seeing them during the day and even stepped on a few at night on the sidewalk. What can I do, she asked? I told her the snakes were coming to the bushes for food, shade, and escape protection from dogs and cats, etc. She said those bushes will be gone tomorrow!!!! I checked her house when I came through the next week and sure enough the bushes had been dug or pulled out.

To solve the snake problem, a person needs to find the place where the snakes are entering the building or locate the protective cover where they are living. With snakes in the yard, this can be a no solution problem because they can be living in the neighbor's yard, and they want the snakes left alone. With snakes in the house a person must find out how the snake(s) may have got into the house, through a cracked foundation, sewer and floor drains, under or through an open door, etc. These openings or entrance points must be sealed or closed to prevent the snakes from entering in the future.

To lower snake numbers in the yard area, a person should keep grass mowed and keep above ground cover and obstructions (wood piles, etc.) to a minimum. Gardens are also an excellent place for the snakes to live with water, food (insects and mice), and protection provided by the various plants. Another lady mentioned when they lived in Texas, she was out weeding the rose bushes and was bitten by a unnoticed young Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. She survived the bite, but said it was not a very pleasant experience. A person must plug any holes or underground openings found around the yard, under the sidewalk, cracks or openings involving the foundation of the house or between the concrete steps and foundation, all need to be filled. Any such openings larger than one-quarter inch need to be filled or sealed. If a snake is seen entering an underground hole, it can be flooded out with water and removed or killed. In other situations, a person can buy glue boards used to capture rats and mice and put these boards or strips along foundations of the problem buildings. To keep larger animals or pets and weather from disturbing these glue boards a person can put a board or piece of plywood at an angle against the foundation to provide cover and protection for the glue board. Various insects, mice, and of course the snakes will be captured when they attempt to cross the glue on the board. The glue boards can also be used by placing them along various walls in the house. A person can also place rugs, blankets, etc. along walls, to offer the snake protection, but then the person still has to capture the snake or carry the object with the snake outside, for disposal or release.

A naphthalene and sulfur based product called "Doctor T's Snake-A-Way" distributed by Nature Product Company in Georgia at 912-294-9742, has been EPA registered and used for snake control. The product instructions refer to sprinkling 12 inch wide bands of the granular repellent in the problem areas. This product may have some possibilities, but reliance on this snake repellent to provide meaningful protection from snakes is unwise (Rex Marsh, University of California-Davis, National Crotalus Society News: Vol. 1 No. 4, 1993 - p. 3). Some people make claims that moth balls work well for removing many of these unwanted critters. Unfortunately, either of these products are not a permanent solution to the problem, only a possible short term compromise.

Extreme care should be used when confronting any snake. Capturing a live venomous snake should only be done by an experienced person using a snake tongs or a similar holding device. Commercially made snake tongs are in lengths of 26-50 inches and can be purchased from:

  • Pillstrom Tongs Company
  • 903 S. 10th St.
  • Rogers, Arkansas 72756-5211
  • by phone at: 479-452-3001

For people interested in capturing snakes, various wooden boxes can made to catch snakes at their dens. The boxes will need some valve type apparatus fastened on the inside back portion of the enclosure. The valve I have used in the past years needs an opening approximately 2 inches in diameter or larger, depending on size of snakes using the den or hibernaculum. This opening is covered with a hinged piece of plexi-glass that allows a one-way entrance of the snakes into the box. Once the trap is placed in the opening of the den and covered, the snakes attempting to leave the den must enter the trap. A commercially made trap is available through MSI, a company that produces Tru-Catch Traps. They have a metal style box trap (Model 842) that is also designed for capturing snakes at their dens. You may contact MSI at 800-247-6132.