How to deter or get rid off snakes : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Our place is thoroghly infested with snakes- just garter snakes,but I have a terrible phobia of them and they are everywhere. Please don't tell me they are harmless and that I will just have to live with them. I have tried that already but when you see 6 or 7 of them at a time it is pretty unnerving. They are in the front yard, the garden, the greenhouse, in and around the pond, even in the goat barn.When they are not hibernating, there is nowhere you can go outside without being confronted by one, and I can't just stay inside all summer! I've thought aboout killing them, but my husband loves them and has strictly forbidden me to harm them in any way or to let the boys play with them. I don't know, isn't there a way to make things uninviting for them? No, they don't help with the rodent problem,we are also deluged with mice,voles, and gophers.

-- Rebekah Leaf (, January 15, 2000


Garter snakes are only big enough to eat bugs. A sow roaming around or a few turkeys will take care of all the small snakes but you might wind up with a big bug problem.

-- William in Wisconsin (, January 15, 2000.

Rebekah, I'm with you. I've got a real problem with snakes. Traffic helps quite a bit, livestock, pets, people. Wish I knew some way to chase them off. I try to remember they're eating bugs. And I try to be grateful they aren't rattlesnakes. But I flat out don't like them. Nothing like scrambling up on the roof of a dark colored car in July while wearing shorts. My husband kills those that decide to move in close to the house. Out in the pastures and fields they are allowed to live. Maybe we both should move to Wisconsin. If William's only get to bug eating size, we'd be slightly more happy. Around here they can and do eat rodents. Grows'em up to nightmare size.

Some of our dogs will kill them. Raptors will take them. I've toyed with the idea of enlarging purple martin house plans to eagle size but haven't gotten around to that project yet. For folks like us who are truly phobic about snakes, there are classes you can take to desensitize yourself. Don't know about you, but I'm not about to spend my time and money to look at pictures of the things, and then graduate when I can touch and handle a real one.

So the only suggestion I can make is for you to make your husband's life a living heck until he relocates/kills the snakes near the house, tightens up the greenhouse, thinks of something to do for the goat barn, etc. Get tough with your husband, Rebekah, its your only hope.Gerbil ;-)

-- Gerbil (, January 16, 2000.

Oh yeah, I forgot. I read somewhere once that people in the SW sometimes use giant industrial size fly tapes on the foundations of their homes. That way they can catch the rattlesnakes outside instead of inside. I would not survive. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, January 16, 2000.

Here in Minnesota, garter snakes eat small rodents, toads, frogs and bugs.You may think they are not helping your rodent problem, but they are. Snakes follow their food source. We used to have only an occasional snake, then we had an invasion of gophers, next, came the invasion of rats from a neighbor who sold his pigs and cut off their food source of bakery bread. In about two years, with the help of a gun, a good dog and the snakes, our rodent problem was under control and the snakes moved on. Now we are back to our normal population. They like rock piles and compost heaps, any place that helps them regulate body temp. If you have patience, nature will take care of it's own. Patti

-- Patti Morris (, January 16, 2000.

Try to get a few guineas. They are capable of killing chicken snakes up to 4' long. I know because I had a flock of 5 gang up on the snake and kill him in the chicken house. Just don't tell your husband what the guineas are for and pick up the dead snakes. What husbands don't know won't hurt you. For that matter, a well placed hoe will do the trick. Just bury the bodies. OR, better yet, perhaps, every time you see a snake and he is home, call him out to deal with the little problem. I'm betting that when it comes to his time or the snakes, the snakes will be put out of their happy home.

-- A.C. Green (, January 16, 2000.

Keep the grass clipped short around the house and get some cats.

-- walt (, January 16, 2000.

Lot of good advice here - if your snakes are anything similar to Australian ones. Snakes go where they can find food - for normal size snakes that's rodents, frogs, small birds and occasionally eggs; which sounds like what your insect-eating babies graduate to when they grow up. We'd love to have more non-venomous snakes cleaning up the food for which the venomous snakes otherwise move in. If you've got rodents, clean up their shelter and food, and they'll move elsewhere, pulling their predators with them. If I lived in a country with Hanta virus or Lyme disease, I'd for sure be doing that anyway.

Note I said "where they can find food". Snake food doesn't hide in short grass, so while I don't really approve of large lawns, they won't have resident snakes - any snakes you find on a lawn will be just passing through, and at least you can see them - no fear of unseen snakes. Longer term answer here is to plant a lawn of short- growing or prostrate ground cover that doesn't need mowing.

Clean up spilled food - particularly grain, particularly from poultry, pigs, or cattle. Put grain in feed storage bins, and put lids on the bins. Put feed troughs - particularly for poultry - off the ground, with covers (wire grid or suchlike) so poultry can't get in and scratch grain out (chicks need special treatment, but then they do anyway, otherwise predators grow fat on the chicks). Mow (or have hubby mow) around where people go - remember that small non- venomous snakes are attractive food for bigger venomous snakes. Clean up and slash reed and rush growth around water edges - not only reduces cover for frogs (and snakes), but cuts down on still water where mosquito larvae can grow. Clean up wood-piles and piles of cut brush or prunings.

Cats and dogs - particularly terriers - will clean up snakes. Be aware though that if they get used to snakes that don't hurt, sooner or later they'll act the same way with a venomous snake. This is part of the bargain they made when they moved in with people, and I know it makes sense, but it still hurts when it happens.

And rejoice that you live in a continent where there are lots of non- venomous garter snakes to clean up before the venomous snakes move in. And that even the venomous snakes sound warnings before they strike (rattlesnakes), or show that they're about to if you don't back off (cottonmouths). You should just try living with tiger snakes, taipans, brown snakes, king browns, death adders, et cet era et cet era et cet era. Not to mention funnel-web spiders and redback spiders. And box jelly-fish. And stonefish. And blue-ringed octopus. And yellow-bellied sea-snakes. And so forth.

-- Don Armstrong (, January 16, 2000.

The relationship between predator and prey has been going on for a long time and is something that we who live beyond the sidewalks have to adapt to or move back into town to preserve our sanity. Mice haunt barns and henhouses. Snakes hunt mice. Hawks hunt snakes. There are other relationships which involve opossums, raccons, bobcats, bears and bees. If you think that you, as a homesteader, are going to so anything to cure any of these relationships which interfere with your particular world view, you are in for a large, very unpleasant surprise. It's like algebra. If you change any part of the predator/prey equation, nature will balance it whether you like it or not. My advice? If you can't learn to live with it, you'd better move back into town. Good luck, John and Pat

-- John and Pat James (, January 17, 2000.

Thank you all for your advice, which was for the most part, sympathetic and helpful. I still don't think that they are helping with the rodent problem; for one thing they are rather small-only 12- 18" at the most, and for another, with the kind of snake population we have, if each snake ate one mouse every couple of days, the mice would be facing extinction. They might eat baby mice, but I have read that you can determine a snake's diet by milking it. What you do is to hold the snake's body firmly and slide your fingers from the cloaca to the head,and it will regurgitate it's food so you can see what it ate. Anyway, one researcher did this, and found out that 90% of the garter snake's diet is earthworms, the rest was bugs. What has helped us with mice are weasels. They move right into our house until the mice are cleared out, or into the barn, and then they go back outside. I don't know why we have such a large population of snakes;my husband says that they are a sign of a healthy environment and that if our place had a lot of chemicals, we wouldn't have as many snakes, frogs, and salamanders. He wants this to be a kind of refuge for them (!) and maybe they are here because other places are not as inviting.I guess that for now I will just have my boys move the big ones that I see on a continual basis and move them to the swampy area. Thank goodness we have no poisonous snakes here! Thanks again.

-- Rebekah Leaf (, January 17, 2000.

I have seen mixtures of mothball (naphthalene) and sulfur sold to prevent snakes from entering an area. Apparently, the snake will not cross the mixture. One start at a point and work out in concentric circles. I have never used the stuff.

-- Rich (, January 18, 2000.

Our solution for 20 acres turned out to be 20 game chickens, 5 pea fowl, 8 turkeys, 6 ducks and 12 goats. It seems the combination of free range fowl and goats work. We had garter, copperhead, water snakes, rattlers, etc. Snakes were so bad they could be found in feed barrels, climbing up screen doors, overhead in the barn and were always underfoot. Hope this helps! it did for us....

-- Teresa Wagon (, January 18, 2000.

Hogs or a sulfur ring on the ground around your property.....also bantam roosters will fight them off.....

-- brian r (, January 20, 2000.

I live in south central VA., where poisnious snakes are a concern. I would recommend you try liming the area around the house or whereever to deter them I used this and with excellent results. Only problem is that any sankes inside the ring of lime will not leave. Also, try mothballs, however, lime, hogs or chickens work well. Hope this helps!!

-- Bernice Raymond (, January 22, 2000.

I gotta know how To get rid of theses things too, im in nebraska good sized town, lil ba###erds are in my yard and garen i near stepped on one yesterday, was picking tomatos today and ill be darned if i didnt have company, was a grass snake i dont care his religion I want Them GONE! I cant have a cat here,Im petrified I Run on air and all the Scream so LOUD Neibors come running, hubby wont kill them takes them for a walk they come back! Any ideas except taking them bye bye do snake pellets work? and where can i get a truck load?

-- Prarie Wind (, July 25, 2001.

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