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Snakes In and Around the House

Snakes are generally shy animals who want nothing to do with people. They can be beneficial because they eat mice, slugs, grubs, insects, and other pests and they can be food for other wildlife such as hawks. Although most species of snakes in North America are harmless, there are some venomous species that can pose risks to people and pets. The National Pesticide Information Center collected the resources below to help you find ways to keep snakes away without posing unnecessary risks to you, your family, pets, or the environment.

Control tips:

  • If you or someone else is bitten by a snake that you think could be venomous, contact your Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) or your health care provider as soon as possible. It may not be necessary to identify the snake.
  • If your pet is bitten and is experiencing pain, redness, swelling, or bruising, take your pet to your veterinarian right away. If your pet is not showing any of these signs, consider calling your veterinarian or the National Animal Poison Control Center at 1-800-426-4435 for advice.
  • Chemical snake repellents are available, but they can pose risks to people, pets, or the environment if they are not used properly. Always be sure to read and follow all label directions if you decide to use one of these products.
  • Only use repellents that specifically state on the label that they are snake repellents, and use them only according to the label instructions.
  • Snakes enter areas inhabited by people in search of food and shelter. The easiest thing you can do is make your home and yard less appealing to them.
  • Prevent snake problems by removing their food sources like rodents. Don't leave pet food out and store animal feed in tight containers.
  • Snakes like cool damp places to hide. Seal entry points into your crawl space or basement which are greater than ¼ inch in diameter.
  • Make sure door sweeps and window screens fit tightly. Cover vents and drains that lead into your home with galvanized screening.
  • Snakes also find shelter under scrap metal, wood piles, trash, and other debris. Keep your yard area free of possible hiding places, including tall grass and weeds which can attract prey for snakes.
  • You can also consider building a snake-proof fence around your home or garden if other methods fail to control the snakes.
  • If you have a snake in the house, there are mechanical traps and glue traps that can be used to capture it. For assistance identifying or removing a snake, try calling your local cooperative extension office, animal control officer (look in the local telephone book), or state wildlife agency.

If you have questions about controlling snakes, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at npic@ace.orst.edu.


Snake and Mothballs

Snake Identification

Because some snakes can be dangerous, don't handle any snake if you are not absolutely sure what type it is. If you don't know what type of snake you are dealing with, treat the snake as if it might be venomous. Don't handle it and keep children and pets away. Snakes are most likely to bite when harassed. Consider taking a photograph of the snake if possible to aid in identification. There are many resources available to help you identify a snake, including your local cooperative extension office, and state wildlife agency. You can also look up the snake in a field guide, or search the internet for information on snakes in your area. Here are some examples of online snake identification resources:

Last updated April 26, 2017

Snakes

  • Identify the type of snake(s) before choosing a treatment strategy.
  • Be cautious when moving trapped snakes. Snakes are more likely to bite when harassed.
  • Control rodent populations to help prevent snakes from entering your property.
  • Clean up piles of wood, trash, metal, and other debris to reduce snake habitat.
  • Cut shrubs away from the home, keep grass short, and manage weeds to reduce hiding areas.
  • Secure all door sweeps and window screens to reduce entry points to the home.
  • Check potential entryways into attics and basements. Seal holes larger than 1/4 inch and use galvanized screening to cover vents and drains.
  • Create a kid-safe zone using a snake proof fence in areas with many venomous snakes.

If you choose to use a pesticide, read the label before you buy. Try a lower toxicity product first.

If you have a pesticide product in mind, have your label handy and click here for information about that product.

County Extension Offices

Through its county agents, the Cooperative Extension Service gives individuals access to the resources at land-grant universities across the nation. These universities are centers for research in many subjects, including entomology (the study of insects) and agriculture. Each county within the United States has an Extension office, which is staffed with agents who work closely with university-based Extension specialists to deliver answers to your questions about gardening, agriculture, and pest control. You can find the phone number for your local county extension office in the local government section (often marked with blue pages) of your telephone directory or by clicking on the map below.

Alaska Washington Oregon California Idaho Nevada Montana Wyoming Utah Hawaii Arizona Colorado New Mexico Texas Oklahoma Kansas Nebraska South Dakota North Dakota Puerto Rico Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Mississippi Tennessee North Carolina Alabama Georgia South Carolina Florida American Samoa Guam N. Mariana Islands US Virgin Islands Wisconsin Illinois Michigan Indiana Kentucky Ohio West Virginia Pennsylvania Virginia Washington D.C. Maryland Delaware New Jersey Conneticut Rhode Island Massechusetts Massachusetts Connecticut New York New Jersey Maryland Washington DC Delaware Vermont New Hampshire Maine Vermont New Hampshire
Small Map of US States

U.S. States:

AK | AL | AR | AZ | CA | CO | CT | DE | FL | GA | HI | IA | ID | IL | IN | KS | KY | LA | MA | MD | ME | MI | MN | MO | MS | MT | NC | ND | NE | NH | NJ | NM | NV | NY | OH | OK | OR | PA | RI | SC | SD | TN | TX | UT | VA | VT | WA | WI | WV | WY | Washington D.C. |

U.S. Territories:

Puerto Rico | American Samoa | Guam | Northern Mariana Islands | Virgin Islands

Controlling Snakes In and Around the Home

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Use of Snake Repellents

As with any pesticide, make sure you read the entire label before using any products to repel snakes. Mothballs are commonly thought to repel snakes, but they are not intended to be used this way and have little effect on snakes. See our web page on the proper use of mothballs. See the link below for more information on snake repellents.

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How to Build a Snake-Proof Fence

Related Topics:

What are pests?

Learn about a pest

Identify a pest

Control a pest

Integrated Pest Management

What are pesticides?

Herbicides

Disinfectants

Fungicides

Insecticides

Natural and Biological Pesticides

Repellents

Rodenticides

Other types of pesticides

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