How to Get Rid of Snakes (A Quick Guide)

Nothing's worse than opening your front door only to be greeted by a giant snake slithering around on your porch. And it doesn't matter that this thing is non-poisonous—  it's still creepy. 

The best way to get rid of snakes around your home is by first identifying the species. Then, you have to either trap them or repel them from your property. And finally, it's crucial to make sure everything that attracts snakes is eliminated to prevent them from coming back.

Snake Removal

This guide will show you how to tell the poisonous snakes from the harmless ones. Then, we'll tell you how to remove them safely. Also, you will get all your questions answered, including the best methods for hiring an expert to eliminate your snake problem.

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How to Identify Snakes 

There are over 150 species of snakes in the US. Scientists divide them between venomous and non-venomous. However, only about one-third of all snake species in the US are venomous. 

Here are just a few of the more common snakes you may encounter around your home. We've divided them between non-venomous and venomous species.

Non-venomous snakes

  • Kingsnake. There are several species of king snakes in the US. For example, in Florida, they measure about 4 feet long and have a combination of yellow and brown throughout their body. In California, they maintain a brighter yellow coloring throughout. 
  • Garter snakes are one of the most common snake species in North America. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, making them a favorite with children. And they typically range from about two to three feet in length. 
  • Rat snakes are found mainly in the eastern United States. They are typically between three to six feet in length. Most are either dark black or brown, and many have yellow stripes along their bodies. 
  • Gopher snakes, also called bull snakes, can grow up to eight feet long. You can find them along the Pacific Coast from British Columbia to Baja California and eastward to Texas. Also, they are beneficial for agriculture since they eat several types of rodents. 
  • Corn snakes can be distinguished from other snake species by the checkerboard pattern on their bellies. An arrow-shaped blotch on the back of its head also sets it apart. Corn snakes are beneficial for homeowners since they help eliminate mice and other rodents around a home.

Venomous snakes

  • Rattlesnakes. There over 15 species and several subspecies of rattlesnakes in the US. However, most live in the southern regions. They can grow up to six feet long and have diamond-shaped heads and distinctive rattles at the end of their tails.
  • Copperhead snakes have a copper-colored head, a stout body and are about two to three feet in length. They're docile creatures that prefer to hide rather than strike. Also, their venom is not normally life-threatening to humans.
  • Coral snakes in the US live primarily along the southeastern seaboard and throughout the gulf coast. They typically have a bright red color and carry highly toxic venom. However, since they're mostly shy and reclusive, less than 100 bites are reported each year. 
  • Cottonmouths have several names, including water moccasin, viper, and Congo snake. They're dark gray or brown and are from two to three feet in length. They get their common name from having a white, visible mucus membrane visible when opening their mouths. 
  • Yellowbelly sea snakes prefer to live in the open waters of the warm Pacific Ocean. But few make it to the United States. However, there have been more recent sightings along the Southern California coast, especially during El Nino weather events.

Signs of Snakes 

Although snakes aren't easy to find, they can leave behind traces of their activity. Here are a few examples. 

  • Live snakes. Most people witness a snake around their home once every few years. However, if you start to notice them regularly, that means there is probably a family of them living nearby.
  • Snakeskins. Snakes shed their skins periodically to ward off disease and eliminate parasites. So, if you see several snake skins lying around, you may have an infestation. 
  • Strange smells. A snake will sometimes emit a foul-smelling odor that resembles the scent of its venom. This behavior is in response to a threat or perceived danger. So, if you notice an unusual odor in a crawlspace or other location, it may warrant further investigation. 
  • Snake holes. Snake holes can be a sign you have snakes around your home. However, keep in mind that other animals, such as rodents, can also burrow into the ground. 
  • Droppings are white in color and watery, much like bird feces. It can also contain hair and bone fragments from its prey. If you notice several areas around your home with snake droppings, you may have a problem. 
  • Slither tracks. Although snakes don't have feet or paws, they can still leave behind tracks. Look for slither prints in soft areas such as crawl spaces and fresh dirt piles. 

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How to Get Rid of Snakes 

Several methods are available to eliminate snakes from your property. The following DIY techniques are the same ones used by professional wildlife handlers. However, if you aren't sure if the snakes around your home dangerous, it's best to contact an animal control expert.

Individual snake removal

First, assess where the snake is located. If it doesn't pose a threat to humans or pets, it's probably best to leave it alone. However, if it's hanging around your barbecue grill or it's sunning itself on your pool deck, it might be time to move it. 

Using a water hose

Before attempting to remove a snake, try coaxing it with a water hose. A gentle stream of water pressure will sometimes convince it to leave. However, try not to use too much force as it may harm the animal. 

If the snake hasn't moved off, you may have to remove it manually. There are two pieces of equipment available for this task, the hook and the tongs. 

Snake hook

The snake hook is primarily for experienced snake handlers. However, it's easy to operate. And it's priced less than a set of tongs.

However, a snake hook won't grip or control the snake very well. And it can take some patience and practice to learn how to use it. For that reason, we recommend starting with snake tongs.

Snake tongs

A quality set of snake tongs will help give you the control and confidence needed to remove almost any snake from your home. When deciding which brand to buy, don't just settle for the lowest price. After all, you don't want it falling apart while you're picking up a snake.

Also, opt for a longer version, especially if you're removing poisonous snakes from your property. This will let you stand back further during the removal procedure. 

Removing the snake 

Keep in mind that most snakes have a striking distance of about half their body length. So, it's best to stand far enough away from the animal before you capture it. Also, make sure you have a plan to release the snake once you catch it. 

The most humane capture method is to grab the snake with the tongs about a third of the way down its body. This method avoids the risk of breaking its spine. It also offers the best control point and keeps the snake from climbing the shaft. 

Releasing the snake

It's best to use a five-gallon bucket with a locking lid for snakes under four feet. For larger snakes, a full-size trash can with a secure lid is preferable. Also, be sure to label the container, especially if the snake is venomous.

Try to release the snake as close to where you caught it as possible. Studies show that the further you release a snake, the less of a chance it will survive. However, keep in mind that the safety of children and pets comes first. 

Snake traps 

Snake traps consist of a thin cardboard sheet with a thin layer of glue material. They also come in plastic trays that are filled with a sticky substance. So, once the snake slithers across the material, it gets stuck permanently.

Use glue traps in garages or basements. Also, be sure to leave some inside the home if a snake comes in through an open door. However, they're not suitable for use outside since dirt can build up on the sticky portion and decrease the trap's effectiveness.

Snake repellents

Natural snake repellents come in either spray formulations or solid granules. They're typically made from natural essential oils such as:

  • Peppermint
  • Orange 
  • Lemongrass 
  • Clove 
  • Cinnamon

The idea is to spray the area and create a perimeter barrier between wildlife critters and your home. You can also use it together with other methods to help deter snakes. 

How to prevent snakes 

Sanitation measures can go a long way to ensuring snakes don't return. And it's vital to make use of mechanical exclusion techniques to keep snakes away. Here, we help you discover ways to utilize both strategies. 

Sanitation measures

Snakes love tall grass. So, it's best to keep your lawn mowed regularly to avoid attracting them. But it's not just about keeping the grass short. Removing mulch and woodpiles will also go a long way in helping the fight against snake infestations. 

Mechanical exclusion

Sealing off our home from snakes will ensure they can't get in. Start with sealing pipe entry points with steel wool or foam. This technique will help keep snakes away from water sources.

Also, be sure to seal cracks and crevices with silicone caulking. Snakes can squeeze through the tiniest of entrance holes. So, it's best to limit any food sources inside the home. 

Why You Should Hire a Professional 

Pest control companies hire trained experts who can help eliminate your snake problem. They can identify which types of pests you have. And they know what to do when they find them.

For example, Terminix performs a complete inspection before deciding which methods to use for a snake removal project. Then, the technician utilizes the most humane trapping and removal methods available. After that, they follow up to ensure the infestation won't return.

Orkin is a leader in wildlife removal operations for both residential and commercial customers worldwide. First, it identifies the snake and decides if it's poisonous or harmless. Then, it utilizes an integrated pest management strategy to eliminate the problem. As a final step, Orkin backs up its service with a solid, 30-day guarantee. 

When choosing a qualified exterminator, be sure to check online review sites. Also, get some referrals from friends and family members. Finally, make sure the professionals you hire are licensed, bonded, and insured in you your state. 

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FAQs About Snakes 

How can you tell a poisonous snake from a non-poisonous snake?

Out of the 150 species of snakes found in the US, only about 50 are poisonous to humans. However, it's essential to recognize the fundamental differences between each. And although it's difficult to identify every species, there are some ways to tell if they are poisonous.

  • Head. Almost all poisonous snakes have a triangular head. Unfortunately, so do some types of non-poisonous snakes. The reason, most scientists figure, is that mimicking a venomous snake provides added protection against certain predators.
  • Eyes. Venomous snakes typically have elliptical pupils, similar to those of cats. Non-venomous snakes have round pupils, much like a human's. 
  • Necks. The necks of non-poisonous snakes are about the same width as the head. However, except for coral and sea snakes, poisonous snakes usually have a much larger head than their neck. 
  • Body. Venomous snake bodies are usually stocky and plump. Non-venomous snakes generally have narrower bodies. 

Even with all these differences, it still may be hard to tell if you're standing in front of a venomous snake. In addition, you may have to get uncomfortably close to spot these characteristics.

Another option may include memorizing the color patterns of the harmful snakes in your area. This is not as hard as it may seem. 

For example, suppose there are only timber rattlesnakes where you live. You could quickly memorize its color patterns so if you run into one, you're prepared. And it will work for other snakes, as well. This technique will ensure you're ready to identify poisonous snakes in your area. 

Can you die from a snake bite?

While snake bites can cause serious health risks, few can cause death in the US. That's because most people who are bitten seek medical help immediately. However, some deaths are reported on rare occasions, especially from bites caused by a highly venomous snake. 

Do mothballs work to get rid of snakes?

Mothballs won't work for snakes since they can't detect smells like humans. Instead, they use their tongue to gather chemicals. Once the brain processes these substances that within the environment, they can use the information to find their home or detect predators.

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