Snakes are one animal humans fear most. A lot of this is because the media portrays them negatively in things like cartoons and movies. We commonly view them as nasty creatures.
Don’t worry, though! If you have a snake in your house, there are a lot of things you can do to help prevent it from happening again and save yourself from some stress.
Snakes are honestly a pretty misunderstood breed of animal. They are feared by many and liked by a few when they have some beneficial aspects about them.
However, it is not exactly ideal to have them invading your space, especially if they welcome themselves inside. So, let’s get to the nitty gritty on the need to know facts about snakes, and what to do once they’re inside.
There are MANY varieties of snakes (over 3,000 species!) Of this number of snakes, only about 750 of them are venomous, and only some of them pose a great threat to humans.
You can find snakes almost anywhere. They live all over the world in a variety of climates. You can find them in swamps, grasslands, forests, water (both fresh and salt), and even the desert.
Not all snakes are the same, either. Since they all live in a vast variety of places, they all have different habits, too. Some sleep all day and are awake all night and others have more of a human timetable.
Snakes hibernate in the wintertime because they are cold-blooded, so when it’s cold outside, they cannot go very far. Snakes have to move around their environment to regulate their body temps. If it’s too cold, they need to move somewhere they can get some heat and if it’s too hot, they have to revert to someplace cooler.
You usually will not find a snake out in the open. Snakes dislike being in the sun for long, and as short as 10 minutes of sunbathing can be detrimental to a snake’s well-being. Snakes are ectotherms, so they use their surroundings to regulate their temperature.
Snakes have a backbone, making them vertebrates, even though we hear expressions like “spineless as a snake”. They use their tongues to smell, which is why they are always flicking their tongues in the air. They will use this method to track as well.
Snakes eat everything whole, which I’m sure everyone has seen or heard a time or two in their lives. Therefore, they take a long time to digest and they become somewhat dormant after eating a meal. So, if you see a snake with a lump in its belly, it is probably pretty tired and not going very far.
Should You Be Afraid Of Snakes?
Snakes are one of the most disliked creatures there are, as well as one of the most misunderstood. While they might seem scary, they can be beneficial to some areas.
Snakes are predators, and they eat everything ranging from small rodents to other, more dangerous snakes. They can eat bugs too, and they are great for keeping the pest population down if you let them.
You can read more about the animals that snakes eat here.
A lot of snakes are not venomous, as stated above. Honestly, most snakes want nothing to do with residential areas. They do not thrive there, there are not a lot of places for them to seek food (unless you have a rodent problem) and they are easily frightened by humans.
Many snakes are protected by state law, which is important to understand if you have a snake problem and want to deal with it. Snakes are a very important part of the ecosystem, even if you’re afraid of them.
If you do have a snake inside your house currently, you should contact a wildlife control professional immediately if you’re unsure of the species and don’t have experience handling snakes.
How to Tell if a Snake is Venomous
Most of the snakes you come across won’t be venomous, but if you come across a snake and you are worried, here are some ways to tell if the snake is dangerous or not:
- They have catlike pupils
- They have pitted heads (pitted on the sides of the face)
- They have a triangular or spade-shaped head
- They have 1 row of scales on their tail rather than 2
- They are brightly colored
- You can hear an audible rattling noise
If you’re interested, you can read more about the sounds and noises that snakes make here.
Most snakes you meet will not hurt you and cannot hurt you because they do not have venom. Venomous snakes in the United States include rattlesnakes (most common), water moccasins, coral snakes, and copperheads.
If you are near a potentially venomous snake, you should leave the snake alone, social distance with it and stay at least 6 feet away, and do not corner it.
Most bites come from people cornering snakes and trying to catch them. Do not attempt to catch a venomous snake on your own. Call professionals for help.
When you corner a snake, they will coil up, hiss, and get aggressive because you are threatening them. Give them their space and call for help.
Here’s Where a Snake Might Live Near Your Home
Snakes like to live in places they can easily cover themselves to help keep their body heat in or to maintain the body heat they have. There are a lot of different places a snake might live, but if it’s near your home you are having a snake problem, they will probably be in one of these places:
- In a firewood stack that touches the ground or in a firepit with debris
- Underneath junk in your yard (like old cars, garbage, etc)
- Untrimmed shrubs or shrubs that butt up next to your home that provide shade and shelter
- Unmowed and tall grass
- Gardens or flower beds that have a lot of mulch or mulch-like debris
- Riverbanks or swamp banks
- Cluttered basements or sheds with easy access to get in
- Feed storage bins or storage bins in general
If you have any of these places around your home, it is probably where your snake issue is coming from. As stated before, snakes are not the biggest fan of residential areas. So, if they are invading your space, it is because you have a good place for them to inhabit.
You can read a more in-depth explanation of why snakes aren’t leaving your yard here.
Snakes will not come out of the wild and into your yard just because they feel like it, they are predators and not scavengers. They hunt their food, so they go to places with a surplus of it, which usually is not residential areas.
Chances are, if you have a snake problem, you have another pest problem, too.
There are some other things snakes will come to your yard for. If you would like to learn more, read our piece on the 7 Things That Attract Snakes To Your Yard + How To Fix Them.
3 Things To Do If you Find A Snake In Your Home
1. Don’t freak out
If you find a snake in your home, chances are it is probably just as scared as you are and is trying to find a way out. Snakes rarely want to be around humans because of the way they react upon seeing said snake.
If you can keep your distance and look at the snake first to decide your next steps before hyperventilating in fear, you are doing great.
2. Identify If The Snake Is Safe To Move
If you have any sort of feeling that a snake may be venomous at all, do not move it or try to go near it. Leave the snake alone and get out of its space, try to stay a minimum of 6 feet away.
If you know the snake, like a garter snake or milk snake, you can move on to step 3.
If you think the snake might be venomous, call for help and get a professional to assist you. Venomous snakes can strike quickly and sporadically when they are cornered and scared. Our pest control finder can help you contact a local professional for help.
When you are waiting for help to arrive, you can shut the door to the room the snake is in and make sure it cannot get out. Isolate it by itself and ensure it cannot get to another part of the house, so when the professional gets there, they can easily get to the snake without searching.
3. Remove The Snake From Your Home
If you are feeling safe and secure about the snake and know you can safely move it without harm, it is recommended to pin the snake down with something that is forked (like a fire poker or a pitchfork) and pin its head to the ground.
After you have it pinned, you can then take a shovel or shovel-like tool and scoop up the snake and bring it outside. This is more easily done if it is a two-person job, however, it can be done by yourself.
Snake prevention tips for the future
Here is a compiled list of how to safely and effectively keep snakes out of your house for good.
If you’re not sure how the snake got in your house in the first place, check out our article on the different ways that snakes enter homes.
Habitat Modification can deter snakes
Snakes are just like any other predator, and they will come where the food is. It’s kind of like when you hear about an influx of sharks on a dock where there is increased chum in the water. If there is an increase in rodent and bug activity, the snakes will come slithering on in.
Snakes also search for a space to keep their body at a good temperature. They will want things they can crawl under and shade themselves with an occasional sunny spot. They love tall grass and clutter for these reasons.
It’s important to clean up your yard. You need to cut your grass, for starters. Make sure you don’t have any tall standing grass or weeds.
If you have junk or debris hanging out in your yard, it is time to move it if you also want to get rid of the snake problem. If it’s something you cannot move (maybe like a swing set for the kids) make sure you keep it clean. Take out anything a snake might burrow under, including blankets, toys, etc.
If you have a pest problem, you need to take care of it to take care of the snakes, which is a whole other ball game. Pest Pointers has a ton of material on different pests and how to get rid of them if you need some information on other critters.
Snakes can also be driven away with scents they dislike. For more information, check out the smells that snakes hate. This article will also guide you on how and where to use these scents.
Exclusion methods keep snakes away
Do you need to cut snakes out of your home? Make sure you know all the ways snakes can get into your home. According to the University of Illinois, snakes can get into any opening greater than ¼ of an inch in diameter, so if you have anything matching this description, you need to patch it up.
Snakes can get into homes through sewer drain openings and laundry vents, too. If you have these and they are accessible to snakes, you could try putting mesh over them and making them a snug fit.
You can also get a snake-proof fence to put in areas you cannot risk a snake. You can also put this around your home if you want to.
Essentially, all a snake-proof fence consists of is a fence with holes in it too small for a snake to fit through. Many people make their own fences out of mesh wiring to help keep snakes out. Make sure this fence sticks into the ground so the snakes cannot slither underneath it to get to the inside.
This Amagabeli 36inch Hardware Cloth is a great option for excluding snakes from your living areas as it has 100 feet worth of fencing and openings too narrow for a snake to slide through.
Finally, make sure your window screens for things like basement windows and lower-level windows fit tightly and your door sweeps are a snug fit. This is a great way to discourage snakes from visiting your home.
Chemical Control keeps snakes at bay
Fun fact: you cannot use fumigants or toxicants when trying to rid yourself of a snake. It’s an actual rule. You need to make sure you are using granules for snake control if you so choose to go this route.
As always, we highly suggest you call a professional before you use any sort of chemical. We also recommend that you choose a repellent that specifically says it’s for snakes.
Put the repellent in high-traffic areas or where you think the snakes might go in and out and it should help you solve your snake problem.
This I Must Garden Snake Repellent is a superb choice because it is inexpensive as well as mostly natural ingredients.
There are also sprays you can use to repel snakes. You can find a list of some of the best snake sprays here.
Trapping Can Be Effective For Removing Snakes
There are two different snake traps you can use. One is a glue trap, and the other is a mechanical trap.
A glue trap is usually a long piece of sticky material. You can apply it to things like plywood. A snake slithers over it and then is stuck in its tracks and cannot get away. These are helpful, but usually can only catch a limited amount of snakes before they lose their stickiness or they are full.
The Catchmaster Baited Rat, Mouse and Snake Glue Traps are a brilliant choice. If you are interested in glue traps, they work for other things too, like mice and rats.
A mechanical snake trap is a lot like a big cage the snakes slide into. It closes on them and they cannot get out. These can be bulky and you need to make sure the holes for the trap are not too big, so a snake can easily get out.
Overall, a snake probably will not hurt you. However, it does not make a difference if it is in your immediate home because that is a pest. Safely removing snakes and knowing the proper ways to prevent them from getting back inside is the most important thing.
If you do not know whether the snake could be venomous, it’s best to keep your distance and leave it alone. Finally, if you’d rather not deal with the snake at all, call in a professional to help you take care of things!
Macartney, J. Malcolm, et al. “A Tabular Survey of Data on Movements and Home Ranges of Snakes.” Journal of Herpetology, vol. 22, no. 1, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 1988, pp. 61–73
Perry G., Lacy M., Das I. (2020) Snakes, Snakebites, and Humans. In: Angelici F., Rossi L. (eds) Problematic Wildlife II. Springer, Cham.
O’Shea, Mark. The Book of Snakes: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.
Stickel, William H., and James B. Cope. “The Home Ranges and Wanderings of Snakes.” Copeia, vol. 1947, no. 2, [American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH), Allen Press], 1947, pp. 127–36
T. McInerney and D. Terzopoulos, “Topologically adaptable snakes,” Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision, 1995, pp. 840-845, doi: 10.1109/ICCV.1995.466850.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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