With the exception of urban residents, most American back yards host at least one of the approximately two hundred and fifty different native snake species, at one time or another.
A close association with residential areas along with a human fear of snakes often leads many homeowners straight to snake control measures when snakes get spotted in the yard.
The vast majority of snakes found in residential areas, such as garter snakes, king snakes, corn snakes, racers and the like, belong to the nonvenomous Colurbridae family.
Types of Snakes
Their back yard presence poses little risk to individuals and pets.
In fact, the probability of any back yard snake being venomous remains very low. With the exception of rattlesnakes, the range of North American venomous snake (coral snakes, copperheads and cottonmouths) is restricted to the Southeast and southern border states.
Rather than posing a potential problem for people, snakes might be considered beneficial residents. After all, they consume a variety of pests such as slugs, snails and rodents.
For snake squeamish people unconvinced about a snake's back yard utility, a variety of options are available to manage residential snake populations.
First, and most important, snakes that successfully wander into the house always lose their welcome status. Snakes belong in the yard and not in the house.
Step one in any snake management project, remain level headed.
High energy activity around snakes tends to startle them, prolonging the problem by scaring the snake into hiding.
Opening the nearest door and gently shooing the snake to the doorway with a broom often solves the problem because the snake wants to be outdoors anyway.
Staying calm and placing a trash can or box over the snake will keep it cornered long enough to slip a piece of cardboard underneath the trap, carry it outdoors and release it.
For the extremely squeamish, the more expensive professional pest control options are available.
Snake control in the yard presents its own challenges, and its success depends largely on the type of yard in question.
Large yards without fencing, for example, provide ample opportunities for snakes to roam as they please.
Small, fenced yards may provide sufficient snake barriers, providing the yard is maintained in a manner that discourages snake occupation.
As cold blooded reptiles, snakes seek food, shelter and warmth. Removing those factors from the yard provides little incentives for snake visits.
Unkept grass provides opportunities for snake food sources to flourish. Consistent lawn care such as mowing and weed removal reduces those food sources.
Removing snake housing options can be as easy as looking around the yard. Stacking wood under a porch to keep it dry, for example, provides snakes with a potential dry home. Snakes even enjoy the warmth provided by carpet folded up on the porch or in the yard.
Contrary to some old tales about the utility of chemical snake controls, extension service specialists across the country discount the effectiveness of any over the counter or home made snake repellents.
The Type of Snakes link in th box points to a multiple page, pictorial review of common North American snakes to help with species identification.
© 2010-2012. Patricia A. Michaels