Snakes Alive!

I got 'em, and I don’t want 'em.
They are garter snakes, 12 to 18 inches long, head about the size of your thumb, very quick. I have a one step up cedar deck at my front door. Deck was built over an existing concrete step. The deck is sealed all around at ground level by concrete which I dug down 8 inches and brought it up to the wood. (This, for a skunk family a few years ago) Yesterday, as I walked toward my front door, three tiny snake heads were sticking up between one of the slats. They disappeared after I stomped my foot. I’m guessing that mama is down there with them. Today, I entered my garage from my playroom…garage door and back door were closed and locked, well sealed, and really quite impossible for anything to slither in. There,on the floor, was an unwanted guest :eek: I had to gingerly sweep him outside with a broom, and he headed for my deck area and disappeared.
I have spread a product called ‘Snakes Away’, which is a sandy mix of naptholene and sulpher; I have poured camfor flakes (moth stuff).
What’s making them comfortable around my house? Front, sides, back, and in the grass around me. I keep my grass short all the time, no weeds, no wet areas. What do they want from me? Help! Also, I have stuffed even the smallest holes around my perimeter with screening.

they have a food source somewhere…do you spray for insects?

Yeah, I’d say, given that you’ve had skunks and garter snakes in about the same place–and that they have overlapping diets–that you have a good breeding ground for some six-legged critter that they enjoy.

How old is the deck? Could you have insects living in it? Do you have shavings on your gardens along the house walls? (Some insects can make really nice homes in redwood chunk bark.)

I’m afraid that I don’t have a good method of getting them to leave (although cats will toy with and kill small snakes).
Being married to a manic ophidiphile (and liking them a bit, myself), I’ve never given thought to removing them (except to keep them from getting caught in the mower).

I assume you do not have a lot of rodents, so they are most likely eating insects. If you spray (or lay dust or granules of) general purpose insect killer (e.g., Diazinon®), around the base of the house, you will probably deprive them of food (and possibly poison the snakes). I am not a fan of such actions, but it is probably better than tearing out your deck and chasing them around with a hoe.

Isn’t it breeding season for garter snakes? Don’t they gather in burrows and stuff right about now?

I’d say leave em be; even encourage them. Look at it this way: whatever they’re eating–rodents, insects–are probably worse to have around than a few snakes. By the same token, I never kill spiders, cause it my house will support a spider, that means there’s something in my house for a spider to eat. And if there is, then I want it eaten, you know?

Right on, lissener! Garter snakes are your friends. They will eat rodents and other nasties around your house.

Are you deathly afraid of snakes? What is the big issue here. They are exceptionally benign and beneficial creatures.

Well, there are those of us who ARE extremely, violently, ophidiophobic, to the point of flinching at seeing a picture of a snake-I can’t even think about them for more than a few minutes or I start freaking out.

We used to live on a place that was just teeming with black snakes. The landlady didn’t care-because she hated mice. On the other hand, my dad made it his mission that I would never know that they were there. (I was five when we moved in, ten when we moved out, and he succeeded).

There was a lot of brush and undergrowth. Keep your grass trimmed extra short, clear out any brush, etc.

Well, the black snakes can be a little nasty, plus they get kinda big. The garter snakes you should be able to live with…

Black snakes (rat snakes or racers) are no more nasty than a stick if you don’t torment them.

I basically agree with lissner, although reading the OP I got a sense of “fear of snakes,” so reluctantly suggested the bug killer. (I’d be delighted to come home and find three tiny snakes watching me from the front step.) There are darned few venomous snakes in the U.S. and there is no reason to spend the effort to chase away (or, especially, to kill) snakes in the northern part of the country. (One might consider being a bit more aggressive if one lived among cottonmouths or sidewinders and had small, inquisitive children, but no rattlesnakes–the only venomous varieties anywhere it snows–are going to hang around a place with people tramping in and out.)

Tthey hight just be seeking shade and relief from the heat under your deck. If you could providea more attractive habitat in the back of your yard they might prefer it to under the deck. I’ve got a garden full of 'em and I never get any grasshoppers. Tehy get plenty of shade under the raspberry canes and there’s a good rock pile for them to winter under.

I can’t understand why people want their lawns to be uniform carpets of green and never see a harmless little wild animal in their yard. Gasrter snakes are the definition of a harmless wild animal too.

I take it you don’t have a dog roaming around your yard. Snakes hate the barking and the curiousity of a dog, and they will definitely leave when they get a chance for safety.

Yeah, we have had snakes IN our house as well. I think it was a young garter or coachwhip, but when we cornered it, it started to coil and strike just like the venomous ones. In our desert, we got some nasty ones. Mojave greens (an aggressive type of rattler) are particularly dangerous to animals and small kids, not to mention 4 or 5 other varieties of rattlers. Then there’s those damn scorpions that come out of nowhere. Small cream color ones that blend in with the walls and floors (1 inch) and those big fat ones that can get up to six inches. I’m always looking down whenever I walk outside and inside!

Can garter snake even inflict a painful bite? I remember picking up those snakes as a kid and I don’t remember getting bit. I do remember how the snake did get me to drop him/her, it defecated on my hands.(I know, eeewe and yes I wasn’t too interested in the snake after that.)

I didn’t think garter snakes could bite until my brother invited me to feed his pet garter, it was a much larger one than his previous pet (which had escaped and was later found dead in the garden), as I put my hand in to its tank it bit me right across my palm and held on and kind of chewed. To be fair it didn’t really hurt but the shock made me scream like a girl (I was 6 at the time). But seeing as garter snakes are really cool and generally friendly you should take more of an interest and try and get over your phobia - facing your fears can cure you totally. Working as a landscape gardener cured me of my fear of spiders.

Dave_D: That’s a garter’s first line of defense. Its poop really stinks and is supposed to fend off predators. they don’t have fangs like venomous snakes, just a bony ridge along the edge of the mouth, so they can’t really hurt you.