8 Top Tips for Keeping Snakes Out of Your Yard

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated December 16, 2021
Big backyard with patio and grill
Photo: Ursula Page / Adobe Stock

By making your yard an uninviting environment, you'll keep snakes at bay

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Does spotting a snake slithering through the grass in your yard send you into a blind panic?

Of course, depending on where you live, some venomous snake species pose a risk to people and pets. However, the vast majority of snakes in North America are harmless, and these shy creatures typically want to avoid contact with you as much as you do with them. 

There are plenty of safe and effective ways to make your outdoor space less appealing to slippery serpents to minimize any risk or worry. Follow these tips for safely removing snakes from your yard and discouraging them from returning.

1. Remove Food Sources

Birds eating from a feeder in a backyard
Photo: Kyaw Thiha / Adobe Stock

By taking away attractive food sources in your yard, snakes are less likely to make repeat visits or set up homes there. Mice and rats are a big part of a snake's diet. To keep rodents away from your porch, consider moving or removing bird feeders as the seeds that fall to the ground attract them, feeding pets inside, and storing animal feed and trash in airtight containers. Also, make sure you fully secure chicken coops or rabbit hutches; otherwise, these can also attract snakes.

It’s worth noting that nonvenomous species like rat snakes and garter snakes can help to keep problematic rodent populations at bay. So, if you don’t live in a region with a large venomous snake population, you might want to live harmoniously alongside them.

2. Keep Your Garden Clutter-Free

Man trimming yard shrubs by hand
Photo: PiyawatNandeenoparit / Adobe Stock

Snakes like to take shelter in cool, damp, covered areas. Keeping your yard free from debris and clutter helps remove potentially habitable spots. Consider the following:

  • Don’t store firewood near your home and keep it at least 12 inches off the ground

  • Remove piles of old, rotten lumber or rocks

  • Trim back shrubs, especially those growing near the foundation of your home, and keep their branches at least 24 inches away from the ground

  • Remove piles of leaves

  • Fill in any burrow holes in the ground

3. Keep Your Lawn Mown Short

By keeping your grass shorter, snakes are less likely to linger because they’re at greater risk of being spotted by flying predators. Also, short grass doesn’t harbor the same number of insects as long grass does, so you’ll reduce the snake's food sources. And, of course, you, your family, and your pets are less likely to spot a snake in tall grass.

4. Remove Standing Water

Snakes love damp spaces, and excess water in your landscape attracts snake prey species like slugs, frogs, worms, and other insects.

Don’t overwater your lawn, address any drainage issues, and consider removing small ponds and birdbaths. If you use moisture-retaining mulch, opt for crushed stone or pine cone varieties which act as sharp deterrents.

5. Use Snake Repellents With Caution

Although chemical snake repellents are available, it’s risky to use them around people and pets, and they’re often harmful to the environment—you should carefully read the label before applying. Many experts also suggest there’s not enough conclusive evidence of their effectiveness to recommend their use. The same can be said for the common advice to use mothballs as a more natural snake repellent.

Glue traps also have their disadvantages. You need to check them daily, and there is debate over how humane they are. If you trap a venomous snake using a glue trap, you can put yourself at risk trying to free it. Plus, these traps capture other animals, and you can’t remove them as easily with oil in the way you can a snake.

6. Consider Snake-Proof Fencing

If, after you’ve done all the above, you're still having problems with snakes entering your property, you could erect fencing designed to keep them out. 

This is often a worthwhile investment if you live in an area with a high population of venomous snakes. It isn’t a foolproof solution, but when done well, it helps.

Fencing an entire large yard might not be practical or within your budget, but you could enclose a smaller area where your kids or dogs play.

Use one-fourth inch galvanized mesh or solid sheet fencing that is, ideally, at least 40 inches high. Set it a few inches into the ground, use supportive stakes if necessary, and keep grass and plants cut back to prevent the snakes from using them to crawl over the fence

7. Don’t Put Yourself at Risk Trying to Remove a Snake

Don’t try to shoot a snake or kill them with a shovel. In most states, it’s illegal to kill snakes unless your life is at risk and many species are protected. Plus, you're putting yourself at greater risk using these techniques if the snake is venomous.

If you want to encourage a nonvenomous snake to find a new hangout, gently spray water from a hose from at least 15 feet away and at the right angle. However, be aware that some venomous snake species see this as an attack, and it can make them more aggressive.

8. Know When to Seek Help From a Professional 

If you’re concerned about the presence of a potentially venomous snake in your yard, it’s best to seek the advice and support of a licensed and local wildlife removal specialist. They have the experience and skills to accurately identify the snake, safely remove it, and legally relocate it to an appropriate site. They can also advise on further steps you can take to keep snakes out of your yard in the future. Professional animal removal costs an average of $350, but it is a worthwhile investment.

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