what to do if you encounter a snake (2023)

Snakes bring a deep-seated fear to many people that no other animal can match.

Even other animals seem to put them in a special category. Many wild animals consider snakes a threat, and some birds and monkeys even make special sounds to alert them when they see one.

But the persecution and violence against these animals is unjustified and often happens when even the most harmless animals are found.

Snakes suffer greatly from changes in their habitat. When their natural lands are destroyed by development, they cannot easily traverse unfriendly terrain.

Many species have either disappeared or are rapidly disappearing from cities and suburbs, reducing the number of human-snake conflicts but also depriving those who enjoy encountering them with pleasure.

Common Problems and Solutions

Snakes rarely cause problems, and the few problems they do are relatively benign. Some larger species can cause problems around poultry houses, occasionally eating chicks or eggs, but aside from venomous species, snakes pose no threat to humans or their pets. This doesn't convince people with a deep-seated fear of these animals that they are harmless, and some people develop fear even at the sight of these reptiles, which goes a long way toward exacerbating the real tension between humans and snakes. conflict.


Most snake encounters are brief, but when they do occur, be sure to:

  • Never mind the snake.
  • Identify by species.
  • Continue to leave it alone as long as it is not poisonous and is not inside the home or building.

All encounters with nonvenomous snakes outdoors (even in your yard) should be resolved by letting the animal go its own way, likely never to be seen again.

Venomous snakes are another matter. If you come across a venomous snake in your yard, take it seriously. The snake should be removed to ensure no one (including pets) is injured.notes:This does not mean that the snake has to be killed.

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In many places, you can call animal control or your local police or fire department to remove the snake. What happens after that can be problematic because most venomous snakes have well-defined ranges where resources (such as winter nests) are critical to their survival.

Relocating snakes to unfamiliar areas may reduce their chances of survival.

Your local animal control agency is the best place to find someone who knows about snakes and can provide advice on the best course of action should a snake have to be removed. There are herpetological societies in many states, and a university extension specialist may be a good source of information or be able to network with others.

Exclusion (prevention of entry or re-entry)

Keeping snakes out of buildings can be as difficult as keeping rodents out. It may be completely impractical to keep snakes out of your yard or garden.

Snakes in a house may be present accidentally (for example, being swept away by a flood), or they may be looking for prey or shelter on purpose. If not caught and removed, they can become trapped inside and possibly die from lack of food or water.

notes:Some snakes may hibernate in cellars or crawl through spaces in older homes. The appearance of molting usually indicates that the snake has been living in the house for some time.

remove snake

If you find a snake in your home, take action as soon as possible for the snake's sake and your peace of mind:

  • Stay calm and avoid disturbing the snake or chasing it into hiding.
  • If possible, carefully open a nearby door, and use a broom to gently drive the snake outside.
  • If you can't dislodge the snake - and it's small or coiled, slowly place an empty bucket or wastebasket over it and place a heavy object on top to trap it until an experienced handler arrives .
  • If you can't get the snake outside, and the above is okay, try confining it to a room or enclosing it with a barrier like a board or box so it's easy to catch when a specialist arrives.

If you know you have a snake in your home but can't find it, consider this: Snakes like warmth and darkness, and a heating pad or even a pile of burlap or other material on your basement floor could attract unwanted visitors who can then be removed. Trapped and dealt with.

If you are not afraid of snakes and believe that doing so will not harm the snake or yourself (and you are sure it is not a venomous species), you might consider wearing gloves, gently picking up the snake, and carefully relocating it externally

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How to Inspect and Anti-Snake Your Property

If you've spotted a snake in your home, or if you want to avoid spotting one, you can treat your home with snake repellent. Snakes usually enter buildings from the ground, and some snakes pass through tiny cracks or holes no wider than an eighth of an inch wide.

  • Carefully inspect the foundation for unsealed wires or pipes, or poorly sealed basement windows or doors, and seal those openings immediately. (You can use the same method as excludeRodents.) Look for an opening in or near the ground (If you've found a snake in your home, keep in mind its size and look for an opening that's big enough for the snake's head to pass through.)
  • Some snakes are also good climbers, and trees, shrubs, stone walls, or chimneys can provide access to roofs. So be sure to check for openings around the eaves and roof. Check concrete porches, behind steps, and where the deck joins the house.
  • After you have inspected the entire exterior and found one or more openings, determine which opening may be the main entrance for the snake.
  • Block all openings except the suspected main entrance. At that opening, install a snake-resistant one-way door.

DIY: One-way Snake Door

You can make your own one-way doors to help keep snakes out of buildings.

  • Roll a piece of aluminum window screen into a 10-inch cylinder with a diameter slightly larger than the entrance hole.
  • Insert the roll into the snake inlet.
  • Hang the exit end a few inches off the ground so the snake can exit but not re-enter.
  • Leave it for a month or more—if you installed it in fall, leave it until late spring.
  • Once the snake is gone, remove the tube and seal the opening permanently.

habitat management

Reduce the chances of snakes moving around your yard by making your yard less attractive (at least to snakes).

Eliminate potential hiding places for snakes and their prey, including:

  • Piles of rocks, wood or other debris.
  • Tall grass and bushes.
  • Cracks appear around concrete porches and sidewalks.
  • Storage shed with space under floor.

notes:Pet food and household waste left outside overnight can attract rodents, which in turn can attract snakes.

insect repellent

There are commercially available snake repellents, including sisal rope and sulfur, among others. However, we cannot confirm the existence of any effective humane snake repellent products.

snake as a pet

It's no secret that many people love to keep snakes as pets. Like all wild animals, snakes belong in the wild. The Humane Association of the United States does not recommend keeping snakes as pets.

public health issues

Snakes are not known to transmit any diseases to humans.

When non-venom bites the skin:

  • Treat the wound as you would any other potentially infected puncture wound.
  • Consult a physician immediately.

If bitten by a venomous snake:

  • Call 911 immediately or take the victim to a hospital.
  • If possible, secure the snake for identification.
  • Remain calm and inactive.
  • Do not cut open the bite wound to bleed or suck out the venom.

While all venomous snake bites can be fatal, the coral snake's neurotoxic venom is more lethal than the pit viper's hemotoxic venom.


  • Joseph Frank and Teresa Teleki'sreptiles as pets(HSUS, 2001) discusses at length the problems and problems of captive snakes and other reptiles, and why the live reptile trade has done so much harm to their species.
  • Desmond and Ramona Morris'sman and snake(McGraw Hill, 1965) is a classic, in-depth study of the history and psychology of the human-snake relationship.
  • For those interested in rattlesnakes, Laurence M. Klauber'sRattlesnakes: their habits, life history, and impacts on humans(University of California Press, 1982) remains highly readable and informative.


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