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Snake-proofing Your Yard

By Chris Williams on October 3, 2011.

Q. We moved into our house about a year ago. This past summer, we’ve seen two different snakes (I don’t think they were the same one) in our yard. My 10-year old daughter is terrified of snakes and doesn’t even want to go out in the yard anymore. Is there a poison bait for snakes?

A. No, there is no poison available for snakes. In fact, nonpoisonous snakes are protected by law in most states. Snakes are basically beneficial; many of them eat rodents.

A certain number of snakes in your yard is normal and most of the time you don’t even see them. But if you’re seeing a lot of snakes, you need to think about why that is. Like every other living thing, snakes require a food source. The numbers of snakes that you have is directly proportional to the amount of food available for them. Food for smaller snakes is mostly insects; food for larger snakes is mostly rodents. Getting rid of snakes around the outside of your home usually means getting rid of rodents first. Once rodents are eliminated from a property, the rodent-eating snakes will leave as well.

snakeUnless you have poisonous snakes on your property, and children or pets that might come in contact with them, it’s best to let snakes live undisturbed. Maybe your daughter would benefit from more information about the positive attributes of snakes and a knowledge that they’re as scared of her as she is of them. If your daughter simply can’t stand the idea of snakes, contact a pest control company to get rid of the rodents and follow the steps below:

·        One way to get rid of rodents is to get rid of (or properly manage) bird feeders. Mice and voles are attracted to areas with bird feeders where they feed on the seed spillage on the ground. Bird feeders should be kept away from the house and fallen seed cleaned up often. In a yard with snake problems, birds should not be fed in late spring and summer, which is when snakes are most active. Reducing bird feeding at this time of year is not harmful since birds have plenty of other food available.

·        Snakes also require desirable habitat which means plenty of hiding places. Wood piles are especially attractive to snakes. Wood should be stored off of the ground on a rack.

·        Rock walls also provide hiding places for snakes. They should be kept away from the house and the spaces between rocks sealed with mortar.

·        Keep grass mowed and weeds cut back near the house.

·        Mulch or compost bins should be sealed to keep rodents out. Rotting fruits and vegetables and open garbage cans also attract rodents which attract snakes.

·        Snakes also feed on frogs which can be found in most backyard ponds. If you really can’t stand having snakes, reconsider the idea of an ornamental pond in your yard.

·        You can sometimes exclude snakes from a yard with special snake fencing but it’s expensive and installation is time consuming. There are snake repellents that sometimes work for some types of snakes, but not for others. These are usually dusts, granules, or liquids that are applied as a border around the area to be protected, and require frequent reapplication.

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