Question about snakes

My neighbor just told me that her yard man yesterday killed the second of two snakes in her back yard, she believes that the smakes are coming form my yard because I have long grass, (I haven’t cut my grass in about 2-3 weeks) I didn’t argue with her because I do need to get my grass cut but isn’t it more likely the snakes are coming from the pile of rocks and building rubble than my long grass? I have a dog who runs around the backyard with no qualms, she has three small children. She also told me that they are having someone get rid of the rock pile, the last time they started moving that I ended up with a rat in my house and I had a terrible time getting rid of them. I am getting rat poison now to put under the house is there anything to keep snakes out as well. I figure if the rodents head for under my house the snakes will follow. Any suggestions?

I’m no expert - but I know you’ll need to give us a location to make any sense of the situation. Around here, a snake in the garden can be enough to get into the local paper.

How big are these yards?
What kind of snakes were they? (If garter, racer, hognose, etc. it is a shame that some twit killed them.)

I know of nothing that will cause snakes to avoid an area other than a lack of food. If she has a haven for rodents, she is the source. On the other hand, very small garter snakes also prey on crickets, grasshoppers, and similar medium to large critters that live in tall grass, so you could be providing a haven for smaller snakes. (Of course, the snakes have to have come from somewhere. They do not spontaneously generate when the grass hits a height of 4". So while you may be providing a haven, you would not be the source unless you have some brush, deteriorating logs, or a rockpile where they may be breeding.)

Depends on the kind of snake, and the kind of area. Yes, most snakes like to have cover, but whether they prefer rocks or grass will depend on the species.

In any case, there is really no reason to kill snakes unless they happen to be poisonous species that are a direct threat to humans (and even in that case it’s better to move them if possible). If you have rats, you are a lot better off with a few rat snakes around than spreading poison around the neighborhood (unless you like the smell of decaying rats in your walls).

Umm, I live in the southern United States. My backyard is about 50 ft by 150 ft. Of course I am just guessing. No water source like creeks or ponds or drainage ditches on my property altough there is one a few houses the other way. I don’t know what type of snakes they were, I had read an acticle that having a pet will cause a snake to stay away.

An active dog that has the run of the yard will probably “encourage” snakes to leave by bothering them, but if the dog is tied up or otherwise prevented from getting to every corner of the yard, the snakes will just move into the areas the dog will not go (provided there is food for the snakes). There are some cats who will toy with tiny snakes, even killing them, but cats tend to leave larger snakes alone and any individual cat cannot be guaranteed to have a desire to chase snakes.

If the snakes were venomous, it would not be a good idea to have a pet pursuing them even if you could talk the pet into trying it.

At 50 x 150, you could almost patrol your yard, yourself–especially if you got the grass mowed. (An overhanging deck or a crawlspace would make that more difficult, of course.)

Wait a minute. Her yard man is killing them and the species is unknown? If they are nonvenomous, why bother? They pose an infintisimal risk to humans, even children. They also take care of all kind of pests, from baby skunks to starlings and sparrows.
You say you are in the Southern US, so that narrows the number of venomous species to four, IIRC: the Coral Snake(very rare), the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake(rare), the Copperhead (somewhat uncommon), or the Cottonmouth/water mocassin (relatively common). There are is no immediate water habitat, so we can discount the Coral and the Cottonmouth. Diamondbacks are fairly uncommon and very easy to identify. If that’s what they were, you and your neighbor would be well aware of them and cooperating in getting rid of them. That leaves the Copperhead which, by the way, frequently inhabits rock and rubble piles.
This leaves an inescable conclusion: if the snakes are nonvenomous, tell your neighbor to get a life. If they are venomous, get rid of the rock pile. Carefully. Very carefully.

I agree with the previous posters regarding the liklihood that the rubble and rock pile is probably the source. Snake prefer cover. Grass itself provides far less that the rubble would. I would suggest getting sulphur and outlining your yard or house with that. It will keep the snakes out…or in. I also agree that there is no need to kill snakes. Even venomous sorts are easily relocated by experienced handlers.


Skunks I can understand, somewhat, but why are starlings and sparrows pests?

Starlings and sparrows (Sturnus vulgarise, Passer domesticus) considered pests by many because they are European imports that compete with our native species for food and nesting sites.
Unlike native bird species which are protected, they may be culled indiscriminately.

I’m sorry, I’m a little dense. These are birds, right? And because they are imported birds, they are somehow less desirable and should be “culled,” which means killed?

I still don’t get it. Why? Killed by whom? Are nesting sites at a premiium?

Yes, actually. The Starling in particular is a hole-nesting species that competes with native species for nest sites. In fact, it has been blamed in part for the decline of the Eastern Bluebird in parts of its range.

Sorry for this continuing hijack, but who kills the starlings and sparrows? I’ve never heard of people intentionally “culling” birds.

While it’s usually not worth the time to seek them out and kill them individually, people will set traps for them, and birdwatchers and birdhouse keepers will destroy nests that they find.

Note that Rikster says they “may be culled,” not that they “should be culled.” This just means that Starlings and House Sparrows are not protected by the laws that cover native species.

However, Starlings in particular can be major pests because they often roost in enormous flocks, causing a nuisance with noise and droppings, and also damage agricultural crops. There are many places where Starling control has been undertaken, which may range from dispersal to poisoning to trapping.

      • It’s rare to hear of it but it does happen. A couple years back a local farmer got arrested for poisoning a big flock of starlings that was regularly visiting his fields every day. The reason he got arrested was NOT that he had poisoned starlings, but that he had used a poison that was not approved for mass-application the way he used it, because predatory birds would also be poisoned if they had eaten any of the fallen birds, and so it was illegal. And he just got a misdemeanor charge and a fine IIRC, he didn’t get jail time or anything.
  • Also a few years before that another nearby small town got into the news for the organized shooting of pigeons. This town has a lot of restored victorian houses in it, and the pigeons roost and build nests, so once a year the local PD and some friends were staging shoots at a couple spots around town (where it was safe). The local PETA in St Louis heard about it and had a piss-fit and “demonstrated” and all, so they said that they stopped. That one year anyway. …I know that the shoots were going on for a long time without many people outside of town knowing, so they might be doing it again and just not saying.

The snakes will get rid of the rats, less snakes = more rats, the “Circle of life” and all that. I am concerned because I have been seeing fewer snakes in recent years (look at my location), it may be a problem. The snakes are likely not poisonous and if they are, they wouldn’t be a problem except maybe to a pet dog or something. Most snakes make an effort to get out of the way. Most people get bit trying to kill the snake.