STILLWATER, Okla. – With the record-breaking rainfall this spring, it is not surprising some wildlife has been displaced from their regular habitat. While an errant rabbit passing through your yard may not be a big deal, some people are seeing an increase in snakes in their yard and around their house.
Unless you intentionally have a pet snake in a terrarium in your home, it is likely you do not want these slithering creatures calling your property home, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.
“For a lot of people, the thought of a snake in their yard or inside their home can be quite unsettling,” Peek said. “Fortunately, snakes, as with most other creatures, don’t want anything to do with the human population. They’re likely invading your space because they’re looking for food and shelter”
Most snakes found in North America are harmless. Although you may not want them on or around your property, the best approach is to remain calm and use nonharmful tactics.
Because snakes might be on the prowl for food, it is important to keep your yard free of snake snacks. Rodents, such as mice, are a mainstay in a snake’s diet, so it is helpful to minimize the mice population in and around your home. Store pet food in a metal trashcan with a lid or a sealed plastic container to keep out mice. Plug all small cracks and other openings around your foundation, doors and windows with steel wool or expanding foam sealant.
Something else to keep in mind is snakes like to forage for their food in tall, grassy areas, as well as under rocks or other items that may be laying in your yard. For example, a pile of lumber leftover from a past construction project or rotten tree stumps provide a great habitat for lots of pests.
“These kinds of areas also provide a great habitat for the snakes themselves,” Peek said. “By eliminating dense cover, you’re also taking away snake habitats.”
When snakes seek refuge, they look for gaps or openings in your home. Gaps beneath garage doors or in the foundation often are large enough for a snake to slither through. Make sure you have a door sweep on doors that lead to the exterior of your home.
Peek said during hot weather, snakes can be attracted to cool and/or damp places, such as beneath storage sheds or basements/storm cellars. Keep out a watchful eye when going into the cellar or if you need to crawl underneath your home or a storage building.
“Granted, most people prefer to not have snakes on their property at all. However, if you do run across one, if left alone, it’s likely to move along on its own,” said Dwayne Elmore, OSU Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist and Bollenbach Chair in OSU’s Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management. “Snake bites typically occur when an inexperienced person tries to pick up, pest, move or kill the snake. This is especially dangerous when dealing with venomous snakes. It’s best to call a professional pest or wildlife person to remove any poisonous snakes on your property.”