How to Get Rid of Snakes (A Simple Guide)

Believe it or not, snakes can be pretty serious pests.

These slithery creatures may not be on your radar (unless you live in the southern United States), but snakes can be dangerous and cause problems for property owners all over the country.

How can you deal with them? What should you expect? What kinds of snakes are a problem?

Keep reading for answers to these questions and more!

how to get rid of snakes

The Slithery Things, Right?

Unless you live under a rock (and maybe even in that case, as well), you've seen a snake in some way—be it person, on television, or in a photo.

Snakes are muscular, limbless reptiles which live in many different regions around the world and most states of the United States. They have forked tongues, eyes with no lids, and are cold-blooded, which means that their warm environment controls their body temperature.

Most snakes—despite their creepy demeanors—leave humans alone and won't attack unless threatened. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean they can't be pests and engage in destructive behavior.

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What Types of Snakes Are There?

There are more than 3,000 species of snakes around the world. They can be divided into a couple of main types, which include vipers and pythons. Not all snakes are venomous, and not all will bite, but you should be careful around them regardless.

The following are the most common snakes in the United States, as well as whether they are venomous or not. Remember: venomous means they will inject venom if they bite, while poisonous means you can't eat the snake without being poisoned.

Copperhead Snakes

Copperhead snakes can be found throughout the eastern half of the United States, from Florida to Michigan to Massachusetts. They live in rocky, semi-aquatic environments like marshes, wetlands, or hillsides.

The copperhead can live for 18 years and grows to be roughly 30 in. long as an adult. They are communal snakes and can often be found living together in dens. Their heads are plain and copper-colored, and they have reddish-brown bodies with distinctive bands.

Copperhead snakes are venomous but have the least deadly venom of the snakes in the United States. They will not seek out people to attack, and you are most likely to be bitten if you accidentally step on one. You need to seek immediate medical attention after being attacked.

Cottonmouth Snakes

Cottonmouth snakes—also known as water moccasins—are an extremely venomous species.

They earned their name because of the white interiors of their mouths, which they display when threatened or preparing to attack.

cottonmouth snake

Cottonmouths have bodies striped with varying shades of brown and live in semi-aquatic environments.

Cottonmouths can be found in many states, including northern areas like Indiana and southern regions like Florida and Georgia. Despite being extremely venomous, deaths from their bites are rare. You should seek medical attention if attacked and should avoid encounters with Cottonmouths.

Garter Snakes

Garter snakes are also called garden snakes and can be found throughout many states in the country. They range in size from 18-26 in. and have distinguishable yellow lines on their bodies. Garter snakes come in a variety of colors such as gray, red, black, and brown.

While some do possess a mild neurotoxic venom, it doesn't harm humans. Garter snake bites will hurt and can cause some moderate irritation, but will usually not kill. You should still see a medical professional afterwards.

garter snake facts

Garter snakes prefer grassy areas, meadows, or regions near ponds and lakes.

Garden Snakes

Garden snake is another term for garter snake, and refers to a collection of species that belong to the same scientific family.

Black Snakes

There are four different types of "black snake" in the United States, but the one most commonly described is the black rat snake.

This type of serpent is almost entirely black in color (with the exception of its white chin and throat), and can be found throughout the East, Midwest, and Southeast, particularly in Texas.

These creatures are great climbers and like heavily wooded areas, so they don't interact with humans often. They are constrictors who suffocate their prey before feeding, which means they are not venomous. Most adults are 3-5 ft. long, or 36-60 in but they can grow to even 8 feet long!

Rattlesnakes

Many people fear rattlesnakes because they are an extremely venomous type of snake which makes a rattling noise when threatened. They primarily live in the Southwest in locations like New Mexico and Arizona, and do not seek out humans. Most people who are bitten accidentally stumbled across one. Immediate medical attention should be acquired after a bite.

Rattlesnakes can be identified by their rattle at the tip of their tails. It is made of interlocking scales and grows as the snake molts. A rattlesnake can range from 1-8 ft. long or 12-96 in. They are usually light brown with dark brown spots.

rattlesnake

Which Snakes Are Dangerous?

Cottonmouths and rattlesnakes are the most dangerous species in the United States. If spotted in the wild, they shouldn't be approached because their venom has the ability to kill. 

Snakes also have strong jaws which can leave nasty injuries on their own and can cause a victim moderate to severe bleeding. If you find persistent snakes around your property, it's best to call a professional to pick them up.

How to Get Rid of Them in Your Yard

It's much more plausible to find snakes in your yard than in your house. Sometimes you can keep them out with snake repellents and special fencing, but what do you do when they arrive?

Which Snakes Will You Find in Your Yard?

Depending on the landscape of your yard, you could find a few different types snakes.

However, while this can definitely happen, it's a pretty unlikely scenario. To get a general idea of what kind of snakes may be lurking in your backyard, take stock of the climate in your neck of the woods.

Cottonmouths like water, while rattlesnakes live in arid regions. If you are in an area with mild grasslands like the Midwest, then you will probably have garter snakes.

How to Get Rid of Them

Snakes are like humans—they just want food and shelter. Keep grass and plants on your property trim so that the snakes don't have places to hide, and eliminate any food sources like rodent infestations.

If you want to be more proactive, you can use snake traps to catch the pest and release it elsewhere. Many pest and wildlife control companies also offer snake removal services.

How to Get Rid of Snakes in Your House

You've heard about snakes on a plane, but what about in your house? Unfortunately, snakes like to take up residence inside buildings because they provide excellent shelter with tons of places to curl up for a nap. Bonus points: if there's a rodent problem, the snakes can also find plenty of food.

Which Snakes Might You Find in Your House?

Big snakes can't sneak inside easily, so you will probably find small snakes. These could be garden/garter, corn, or ring snakes. 

How to Get Rid of Them

You don't want to touch a snake that's wound up in your house because despite its small stature, it might bite.

Instead, it's best to call a professional or use a snake trap. When the creature is stuck, you can take it outside to release or relocate it. 

Sometimes, small snakes can be pushed out of the house with a broom. Non-venomous snakes can also be wrapped in a towel and thrown outside.

If snakes are a continuous problem, seal any cracks in your walls which could serve as entry points to your home. Also, be sure to keep vegetation near the house trimmed, so the pests can't hide near your house.

Here are some top tips regarding snakes in the home from Caroline Seitz, a wildlife expert and the director of Reptiles Alive in Washington, DC. Take a moment to listen to what she has to say!

How to Get Rid of Snakes in Your Basement

Snakes don't tend to enter basements deliberately. Once they're there, though, they might enjoy the cool temperature and access to moisture. Even worse, they might reproduce while they're down there.

Which Snakes Might You Find in Your Basement?

More than likely, you'll find garden/garter snakes in your basement, since these snakes tend to live in a similar environment as humans. If you find them, you should avoid approaching them, even though they are relatively harmless.

A bigger problem—literally—would be a group of black rat snakes. Because these guys like to climb, they can sometimes slip through cracks around a home and get trapped inside.

How to Get Rid of Them

Once a snake is already in a basement, you can either trap them or call a professional.

Glue traps are frequently used by homeowners. Long story short: the snake becomes stuck to the adhesive and can be taken to a relocation center and released. Otherwise, professionals can use carefully-constructed traps to catch the snake and bring it somewhere else.

Once the snakes are gone, be sure to caulk any cracks the snakes might have used to enter. Also, keep any gardens and grass near your home short and trim so snakes don't have a place to hide. Many snakes end up in basements accidentally while seeking shelter to avoid larger predators.

Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your snake problem?

Click here to check out our exterminator search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) exterminators in your local area.

(Process takes about 30 seconds)

How to Get Rid of Snakes in Other Places

Snakes can also be found in unusual locations, and the methods described above don't always work.

Here's what you can do if these pests roost in unexpected places around your property.

Under Your House

Snake traps and repellents will be the most effective options besides calling a professional. 

They can be placed around crawlspaces and other areas used to access the underside of a home. Remember, as always, to eliminate food sources such as rodents like rats and mice. 

In a Chicken Coop

Here's a little-known fact: snakes only rarely eat chickens, and only eat eggs if their first choice isn't readily available. 

When they slither into a coop, they are actually looking for the rodents that like to eat the chicken feed.  

snake in chicken coop fact

Keeping food stored in closed and sealed containers can stop rodents from entering, thereby keeping the snakes away. You should also keep grass and plants around the structure cut and avoid having edible debris scattered.

In Your Garage

If just one snake is pestering you, you can use a push-broom to sweep the snake out and away from your home.

You can also eliminate food and water sources or use a trap to capture (or even go so far as to kill) the pest.

In a Pond

Some snakes really like water, especially water moccasins. The best you can do is eliminate food sources and trim down the grass around the pond.

Make sure there aren't places for the snake to hide, like clumps of rocks or debris. Repellents sprayed around the pond can also stop snakes from eating any fish inside or from drinking the water.

Natural Ways to Get Rid of Snakes

The most natural ways to eliminate snakes involve basic yard and home maintenance. They include:

  • Keeping your grass manicured 
  • controlling other pest problems such as rodent infestations
  • Eliminating excessive moisture or wet areas
  • Removing garbage and debris
  • Erecting snake-proof fencing

Our Final Thoughts On Snake Removal

Snakes don't have to make you hysterical. With the information in our guide, you can know what you're up against. Be sure to manage your property with knowledge and expertise so that these slithery pests don't take over. 

If you're unsure of what to do, many pest and wildlife control companies can always help you eliminate infestations of all sizes.

Other Snake Guides

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