Animals

How to Get Rid of Snakes

When I arrived for a tour of duty in Vietnam, I was told that there were 100 different species of snakes in Southeast Asia; however, only 97 of them were venomous. The other 3 species just swallowed you whole. This story pretty much sums up the average man’s feelings about snakes. Although a large majority of these reptiles are not harmful and many are actually beneficial, people have a fear and aversion to them. Many benign species such as gopher snakes and garter snakes serve a useful purpose in reducing unwanted rodent populations.

There are several different varieties of venomous snakes in the United States such as the copperhead and the rattlesnake. Some snakes live in or near water and others live on land. They are all carnivores that stalk and kill their prey. Unless you’re absolutely sure that the species you’re dealing with isn’t venomous, it’s a good idea to just avoid them. Even a venomous baby snake can inflict a painful and dangerous bite.

The simple answer is that you or someone properly equipped and trained is going to have to catch them and take them away. There are all kinds of different ideas on how to discourage them or drive them away, but the evidence shows most of these to be worthless. Commercial snake repellents do not work. Some people have suggested predator urine from an animal like a coyote or a fox. Ultrasonic sound emitters. Mothballs in your yard. Ammonia soaked rags. The list goes on and on, but none of these have been proven successful in driving away snakes – but if you feel you’ve discovered a miracle deterrent that doesn’t involve a mongoose, please share it with the rest of our readers using the form at the bottom of this page.

Again, the only way to get rid of snakes is to catch them and physically remove them from your property and the only way to keep them away is to eliminate a snake-friendly environment.

To discourage them from taking up residence on your property, start by eliminating their desired environments. Make sure your lawn is mowed and not overgrown with high weeds. Cut back overgrowth. Keep log piles and compost heaps a safe distance from your house. Use wire mesh fences at ground level around crawl spaces or your garden to keep snakes out of those places. Reducing the rodent population which is their main food supply will also send them elsewhere to eat. If you still find one slithering across your lawn, call the local Animal Control people to come remove it from your property.

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Nicole Harding

28 Comments

  • one way to catch a snake is to get behind it and step on its head not to tight or it will die just enouth to put you hand on its neck and really fast put it in a bag or a trash bag

  • I have heard (and seen on the news) that pigs root for snakes and eat them, and can be a nice pet. If you are in the country, you can get a pig. Some cities will also allow a small pot-belly pig for a pet.

  • Mel, rattlesnakes like water…streams attract them to a degree.

    To get rid of snakes that are residing in a say a crawl space under an older building, take some 1 gallon contianers and put some gas in those. Set them where the wind will carry the gas smell and the snakes tend to leave that area. The trick is to get the containers in the right spots so the gas smell infects thee area. One of the reasons this is said to work is gasoline has caustic acid in it. Perhaps that irritates the snake’s smell system enough that they simply must go elswhere to breath.

    Pigs and Geese are great for eating snakes. Pigs Btw, consider snakes a delicousy.

    Barn cats too, tend to clean out snakes ( they clean the snakes out when the snakes are little ).

    Bull Snakes are non poisonous and kill rattlesnakes.
    The 2 are natural enemies and the bull snakes always win the battle.

    And one can always make a snake trap. It takes an area where snakes are, then use a 55 gallon drum. Set the drum such that the snakes can crawl over a surface ( rock ledges work pretty good, and one can always use some wood to bridge a gap ) which is flush to the drum’s top open end. Throw a couple dead or alive snakes ( alive or dead rabbit or etc )in the drum and the smell attracts live rattlers.

    They crawl to the edge and over down into the drum and cannot crawl up because it’s a strait up slick surface.

    Thus they die in the drum too…these traps are continously self perpetuating in the mission.

  • I find that a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with #7 or #8 bird shot works just fine to kill snakes, expecialy if there are more than one snake to be killed.

  • Living rural most of my life, we have never had so many snakes as the last couple of years (big bull snakes) and we dont know what has happened to make this change. But, like my grandmother before me a good sharp hoe and a rat terrier type farm raised dog are the best tools against them. Altho, our old Dalmatian was sure fire death to snakes and little he was not. Yes, I know the snakes are beneficial, problem is you might need them in the barn with the mice but they love the chicken house, fresh eggs, fresh hatched chicks, etc., they cease to be of any benefit. We have even had them slither under the setting hen, swallow the eggs or new chicks without the hen even being aware of it. We have even had a hen and new chicks in a fairly tight coop (safe we thought), but a snake managed to squeeze in and get the chicks. Then the snake couldnt squeeze back out, so next morning we found regurgitated dead chicks. This year already we have had 6 5-6 foot bull snakes in the chicken house, everything is well mowed and maintained so there are not a lot of places for them to hide, that is not the problem. We now have a Jack Russell terrier that will kill a snake just like he saw the old Dalmatian even tho sometimes they are nearly bigger than him and throw him off balance when he whips them. Anyway, after writing this novel….this is my recommendation, a good dog and a sharpened hoe. A Native American man told us to kill the snake and burn it in your area, that is what their tribe did. If anyone tries that let me know if it worked….until then, whist, gettem Dog!

  • Ok, first I like all of the above remedies. For beheading snakes with a hoe or other sharp instrument, is it necessary to wear a dark hood and videotape it? For the advice from the Native American guy, I visited an Apache reservation when I was in high school and they decapitated a chicken for dinner (no hood or vhs recorder required). The old man used feathers from the chicken and made an odd circle pattern on the ground and after decapitating the chicken he placed the bird in the center of the circle and it just laid there and died; no flopping or running around. Moral: listen to the old Indian guys. Myself, I’m partial to snakes. I’ve had several for pets (funny stories with Mom) and amazing experiences with poisionous ones from around the world. Knowing their habbits and preferences (home and food) is half the battle. There are only a handfull of poisionous snakes in this country but, for the others… My outside rabbit pen is made from 1/2″ square fencing from Tractor Supply, burried 10 inches with the floor elevated 6 inches and haven’t lost a rabbit since. I just eliminated their way in. King snakes also kill rattlesnakes since they’re immune to their venom. What few I’ve had here in Alabama, I’ve been able to herd off away from where my kids play. Others are very beneficial for keeping unwanted pests away. If I catch them, I pin the head with the crook in the backside of a hoe or rake and carry it in a pillow case tied with cotton rope. What they can’t see, they can’t bite.

  • Then how does everyone get rid of snakes. I am terrified of snakes and we have garter snakes everywhere. I dont think i would be able to handle it if they got in my house. We have cut back all long grass and piles of wood and brush have been burned. We also cut our grass really short. I just need to know how to get them to go away before they get into my house and cause me to have a heart attack.

  • gasoline!!!
    pour it on the snake and if in a area close to a water spout lite em upp!
    or it will die slowly but surely just killed a copperhead today

  • Well, in 4 months I have had 5 snakes, 2 poisonous 2 not sure about, 1 nonvenomous. None of the same species. I have yet to find anyone who is willing to come catch and remove snakes. I am not willing to get close with a hoe, so I guess I will try the shotgun method. Problem is, my dogs keep finding the snakes before I do. They have been lucky and neither the copperhead nor the water moccasin bit them. I have had them “snake” trained – twice now. There has got be a better way! I am afraid to go out and mow the lawn. as I only have a push mower.

  • I use mothballs put them around your house in any holes you see and in the garden. The fumes from the mothballs irritate them and they well leave the place for a long time. In addition, skunks will not come around either. Or you can use limes, pour it around you property and just put some lime out their to it well do the job as well. On the other hand, if you are desperate you can spray gasoline or diesel around there and in any holes; you see to get rid of them.
    Or a good shotgun well do the trick.

    Rattlesnake catcher

  • Ok…I have a great concern with snakes…we live in a ranch and I know there is a a lot of snakes…yikes! Do snake repellents really work? What are the best way to get rid of them. What can I put on the trees of my ranch so they won’t just hang there…I am so terrified of them.

  • I live out on 20 acres in the woods and have killed 19 copperheads in one season last year. I have dachshunds and although they find the copperheads they have yet to kill one.. They are constantly getting bitten and I run out with the hoe and kill the snake when I hear the dogs do the “snake alert bark”. Moth balls, sulphur, snake away NOTHING works to keep the snakes from coming. I have cats and they could care less about killing a snake… they are feral cats so not lazy house cats. I have found NOTHING keeps them away but a sharp shovel does a great job decapatating them. I HATE COPPERHEADS

  • For those with dogs…most snake bites are not serious at all, and can be treated with benadryl and a cleaning, except for rattlers and such. You should see your vet to get a vaccine for any common venomous snakes in your area.
    I work at a rural, and I mean very rural animal shelter, and we have seen several snakes in the past few days. I expected it, seeing how we are in the country and the previous management allowed the shelter to have a surmountable mice infestation. What concerns me is that snakes do not generally want to go anywhere near dogs, yet they keep showing up in their pens, or courtyard areas where we keep several dogs at a time. I know they are following the food, the insane amount of little creepy mice we have(not originally from the country) but I am getting really afraid to walk back to the dogs. I mean, I’m terribly afraid of the mice, but would rather encounter 20 of them, than 1 snake. So, with an infestation of rats, what can I do about the snakes, that won’t be harmful to our dogs??
    Thanks!

  • My problem lies not with copperheads or pesky rattlers…. I followed the tracks of a very very very large snake in my yard. This proved very disturbing to me for I have 3 small dogs. I do not know what kind of snake it is, but I have a feeling it’s a python or a boa. Here’s why…. a month ago I found a BABY snake pressed up to the garage door. Yes a baby snake, which looked like a python or a boa. I researched all I could on snakes and I have not found one that looks just like it yet. The Problem: The MOMMA is still in the backyard and it is so large I can hear it slithering along the ground hunting at night. Could someone please give me the satisfation and tell me this isn’t really a snake? I would appreciate it. P.S. I’ve always wanted a pony!

  • If you want to find the snake in your house, try putting flour on the floor or along baseboards and it will leave trails from the snakes movements

  • Try spraying diesel on your backyard or just about anywhere you don’t want them to go.
    gasoline and kerosene will also do the trick but dangerous.
    lastly, try crushed garlic. place em anywhere.
    mountaineers in tropical countries use them during climbs to bushy trails.

  • Have found that pouring or spraying a snake with paraffin makes it disappear.The smell of paraffin also makes them snakes ran away fast.

  • I live in the country and have a huge snake that keeps eating my goose eggs and my geese are even afraid of it but we have only seen it once but eggs keep disappearing I heard along time ago that if you put a golf ball down with the eggs the snake will eat it and cacan’t pass it…. Is this true? If not someone tell me how else to kill it!!!

  • Ya’ll are funny. Here’s my problem, I have a cattle tank maybe ten feet behind my storage building. It also houses my laundry room, and a play room for my grandmonsters. This afternoon my grandsons found a cottonmouth under a roofed patio area out there. Out there being about fifteen feet from my house. Thinking it was a copperhead my nine and five yr old boys chopped it up with a posthole digger. I want the snakes to die. I don’t care if it’s a slow painful death or a short sweet one. What can I put in my tank to poison the snakes. NO fish or cattle use it. Only cottonmouths folks. and if you’re one of those silly animal rights goobers you come swim in my tank anytime you want.

  • I live in a small town in Nebraska. I have several dens of garter snakes in my yard that cause sink holes. There is usually one hole at the surface of each, just big enough for a large one to get through, but there is one hole big enough to put my fist through! We also have a root cellar that has tons of them. I am not afraid of them or hate them so I usually don’t like to kill good snakes like them. But there are way too many & I don’t like the sink holes! I’ve been told to put moth balls & also lime around, but have also heard that this just causes them to shed & come back. I am going to try pouring bleach down the holes then fill the area with more dirt. I don’t know if this will be a permanent solution, but need to try something. If this works, I’ll let you all know.

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