How to Keep Snakes and Nuisance Critters Out of Your House and Yard
Now that cold winter temperatures are fading away, everyone is eager to head outside into the yard to work and play, especially if you’ve been locked inside for too long and you’re looking for things to do around the outside of your house. You’ve likely been looking forward to more time outside with your family and friends too – or even just to spend some time on the back porch by yourself.
But humans aren’t the only ones venturing out in the warm weather this spring. Snakes are also coming out of hibernation – and coming onto people’s property. So let’s take a look at some ways we can keep snakes out of yards and homes this spring.
Prepare with Protective Gloves and Equipment
Be sure to use appropriate safety equipment when performing various tasks around the yard and home to avoid cuts, punctures, splinters, infections and other injuries to face, hands and feet. These would include:
- Heavy duty work gloves
- Eye protection
- Hard hat or bump cap
Remove Piles of Wood and Debris
Snakes aren’t really much different from the rest of us. They mostly just want to live a comfortable life and not be bothered by their neighbors. So when snakes come into your yard, they aren’t looking for trouble. Instead, they’re just looking for three basic things: food, water and shelter.
While it’s very nice of you to provide them with piles of wood and scrap metal to live in, if you don’t want snakes coming around, then you should probably just get rid of all that stuff.
Now, if you have a designated pile for firewood around an outdoor firepit or in storage for heating, that’s different. Your best bet is to get it up off the ground onto a platform or firewood rack.
Also, if you stack your firewood against your house, that’s just a bad idea for all kinds of reasons. But in this context, it’s bad because wood piles attract bugs, rodents and lizards – and snakes. And you don’t want a nasty critter convention right up against the side of your house. So move that firewood rack away from your house.
Re-Screen Attic Gables and Roof Openings
Snakes in attics are another problem homeowners often face this time of year. To keep them out, you’ll have to get up in there and inspect your gables, vents and other roof openings. You’ll also need to inspect from up on top of the roof itself. So for safety reasons, you’ll have to decide if this is a DIY job or an excuse to call in some backup.
Many gables and attic openings have soft mesh window screens to keep out small insects, but those can be easily torn by raccoons and birds, making an easy entrance for snakes. So you’ll want to reinforce those openings with a more durable mesh or hardware cloth.
If you carefully remove the old torn screen, you can use it as a template to cut and custom-fit your new piece of screen or hardware cloth. A combination of both materials is best – since the hardware cloth will keep out the animals while the screen protects against insects.
Seal Around all Plumbing, Wiring and Other Utilities Entering Home
Check around the exterior of your home from the foundation all the way up to the roof. Anywhere that a water pipe, electric cable or telephone line enters your home is a possible entry point for snakes.
Remember that you’re also checking gaps around windows, doors, shingles and joints. Just about any gap or hole ¼ inch or larger is an easy spot for snakes to get in. Seal those gaps, cracks and holes with wire mesh, spray foam, caulking or even peel-and-stick weatherstripping where appropriate.
Re-Screen All Openings in Crawlspace Vents and Seal Holes
Crawl spaces under houses are another problem area where it can be difficult to keep snakes out of houses. If you have lanterns or portable flood lights, bring them down there so that you can inspect the entire area thoroughly rather than just shining a narrow flashlight beam around.
Older homes might have floor heaters as well as plumbing, and these often-neglected pipes, shafts and machinery can be nesting grounds for snakes in crawlspaces – and other pests too. Seal everything off nice and tight to keep them from coming up into the house.
Remove Food Supply – Check for Mice and Rats
We’ve touched on it here and there above, but let’s re-emphasize that you aren’t just trying to keep snakes out. You want to keep their favorite food sources out as well. If there’s no food, the snakes will move on to greener pastures.
Ground treatment is your first line of defense against insects. You’ll also want spray around your home’s foundation regularly to keep bugs at bay. Inside the house, traps and bait work well to kill off roaches, centipedes, spiders, ants and crickets. And if you have rodents, you’ll want to use traps and other measures to get rid of them too.
Keep Yard Properly Maintained and Cut Short
Keeping snakes and other nuisance critters out of your yard is a good excuse to finally give the whole property a good clean-up. Empty flower pots tend to hold water and attract insects, so don’t leave them strewn around the yard. Store them in a shed or garage.
Bushes, flower gardens and hedges also make comfy hiding places for snakes and their prey, so keeping your foliage from growing too wild can also help a bit. There’s only so much you can do here, but it’s worth a mention.
Use a Family- and Pet-Safe Repellent or Snake Deterrent
Just as you can use herbicides around your lawn to keep out crabgrass and weeds, and you can use bug spray and bait to keep insects away – you can also use snake repellents around your yard, crawlspaces and attic to do the same thing.
You can find commercial snake repellents with the active ingredient naphthalene at your local hardware center. Or if you prefer, you can try more natural or homemade snake repellents that will also get the job done.
Keeping snakes out of your yard and home can be a tough job, since they have a tendency to squeeze into just about anywhere. And try to remember, most snakes in the USA are totally harmless – freaky, but harmless. If one does get inside your home, make sure you know how to identify whether it’s dangerous or not. If not, you can probably just carefully sweep it out the door with a broom or put an empty rubber storage bin over it to contain it til while you call Animal Control.
But if you live in an area with venomous snakes – or you just can’t stand them either way – then you’ll definitely want to take these precautions to keep them far away from you and your family.