How to get rid of snakes in the yard

Think about your yard for a second.

  • Do you have bushes or vegetation that’s overgrown?
  • How about dead leaves or grasses in your flower beds?
  • Does your property have any standing water on it?

Garter snakes are on your property for a reason. They prefer a certain set of conditions. Once you eliminate those attractants, you’ll be one step closer to a snake-free yard this year. Here’s some quick info about the garter snake. Then, I’ll give you a list of things you can do to make your property less attractive to snakes.

The Garter Snake

garter snake

The Eastern Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis, is probably one of the most common snakes found throughout the whole US and Canada. There is an old wive’s tale that they are mildly venomous but THAT IS NOT TRUE. They originaly got their name for their resemblance to mens garters that held up gentlemens stockings, with the longitudinal stripes.

Habits

When cornered they will flatten themselves out and shape their head in a triangular shape to resemble poisonous snakes. When very disturbed they will discharge an oily musk from their anal glands which is quite displeasing in odor and substance. This is not dangerous, but really smelly. They will bite quite readily but calm down very quickly.

Food & Habitat

Usual food for Eastern Garter Snakes is toads, frogs, slugs and earthworms. Active in the daytime or nighttime, and even on warmer winter days, they are commonly associated with some sort of water source, creek, lake, or pond. You’ll find these snakes in any environment that is moist and has grassy vegetation. Sometimes they’ll travel far distances to find a water source. So, after rainfalls, or if you have sprinklers watering your lawn, this will be something that attracts them to your property.

snakes in brush resized 600

Physical Description

The Eastern Garter Snake is 1-3.5 feet long with brown, green, dark red, or tan stripes running along the body. Three distinct yellow stripes set this snake apart from the rest of the common snakes in the Midwest. There are 24 known species of the Eastern Garter Snake across the north american continent. The females give birth in a true viviparous method. That is, the young emerge as live snakes, and not in eggs. This shows very advanced evolutionary relationships between the mother and young. They can have up to 50 baby snakes at a time.

garter snake closeup of face resized 600

red garter snake
Photo cred: redandthepeanut.blogspot.com

What You Can Do to Get Rid of Snakes in the Yard

The following is a list of things you can add to your spring cleaning list this year in order to make your property less attractive to snakes and other pests too. Keep in mind, rodents tend to like the same environments; heavy foliage for harborage near a water source. Both snakes and rodents can squeeze into small cracks and crevices, too. So, if you’re attracting these creatures into your yard, it’s only a matter of time before they make their way inside your house.

  • Rake flower beds and clean up loose, dead or overgrown vegetation
  • Remove any standing or overflowing water sources
  • Seal cracks and crevices on the foundation of your home, paying close attention to window wells, screens, doorways, etc.
  • Keep grass trimmed and mowed frequently
  • Plant bushes or shrubs at least 2 feet away from the house so that the branches won’t grow to touch the house
  • Trim any existing vegetation back away from the structure of your home (this will prevent ants from invading as well)
  • Don’t overwater your lawn or flowerbeds

trimming bushes resized 600

Do moth balls work to get rid of snakes?

moth balls for snakes

Some people swear by using moth balls to repel all kinds of pests. The scientific truth of the matter is, moth balls will do little to nothing to repel snakes. Moth balls are harmful to children and pets and aren’t intended for use on pests like snakes. Don’t take the risk. Save your money. If you still have a problem with snakes after cleaning up your yard according to that list above, call a professional. They’ll know what to recommend.

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