Damage Prevention and Control Methods
- Seal all openings with mortar, hardware cloth, sheet metal, or steel wool
- Reduce rodent population
- Keep all vegetation closely mowed
- Alter all sites that provide cool, damp, dark habitat for snakes
Of the many kinds of snakes found in the United States only a few are harmful. All poisonous snakes, except 2, belong in a group called pit vipers. There are three ways to distinguish between pit vipers and nonpoisonous snakes in the United States. 1) All pit vipers have a deep pit on each side of the head, midway between the eye and the nostril. Nonpoisonous snakes do not have these pits. 2) On the underside of the tail of pit vipers, scales go all the way across in one row. On the underside of the tail of all nonpoisonous snakes, scales are in two rows all the way from the vent of the snake to the tip of the tail. The shed skin of a snake shows the same characteristics. 3) The pupil of pit vipers is vertically elliptical. In very bright light, the pupil maybe almost a vertical line, due to the extreme contraction to shut out light. The pupil of nonpoisonous snakes is perfectly round.
Snakes are not very mobile, and even though some are fairly adaptable, most have specific habitat requirements. Some live underground (these are mostly small in size), and some have eyes shielded by scales of the head. Others, such as green snakes, live primarily in trees. In general, snakes like cool, damp, dark areas where they can find food. The following are areas around the home that seem to be attractive to snakes: firewood stacked directly on the ground; old lumber piles; junk piles; flower beds with heavy mulch; gardens; unkempt basements; shrubbery growing against foundations; barn lofts - especially where stored feed attracts rodents; attics in houses where there is a rodent or bat problem; stream banks; pond banks where there are boards, inner tubes, tires, planks, and other items lying on the bank; unmowed lawns; and abandoned lots and fields.
All snakes are predators, and the different species eat many different kinds of food. Rat snakes eat primarily rodents, bird eggs, and baby birds. King snakes eat other snakes, as well as rodents, young birds, and bird eggs. Some snakes, such at green snakes, eat primarily insects. Some small snakes, such as earth snakes and worm snakes, eat earthworms, slugs, and salamanders. Water snakes eat primarily frogs, fish, and tadpoles.
General Biology, Reproduction, and Behavior
Snakes are specialized animals, having elongated bodies and no legs. They have no ears, externally or internally, and no eyelids, except for a protective window beneath which the eye moves. The organs of the body are elongated. Snakes have a long, forked tongue which helps them smell. Gaseous particles from odors are picked up by the tongue and inserted into the two-holed organ, called the Jacobson's Organ, at the roof of the mouth.
Two halves of the lower jaw are not fused, but are connected by a ligament to each other. They are also loosely connected so the snake can swallow food much larger than its head. Because snakes are cold-blooded and not very active, one meal may last them several weeks. Also, because they are cold-blooded, they may hibernate during cold weather months or aestivate during hot summer months when the climate is severe. In either case, they consume little or no food during these times. Some snakes lay eggs, some hatch their eggs inside the body, and some give live birth.
Nonpoisonous snakes are harmless to humans. In most cases, a snake will crawl away when approached if it feels is can reach cover safely. No snakes charge or attack people, with the exception of the racers, which occasionally bluff by advancing toward an intruder, but will retreat quickly.
Damage and Damage Identification
A nonpoisonous snake bite has no venom and can do no more harm than frighten the victim. All snakes have teeth; only pit vipers have fangs. Nonpoisonous snakes have four teeth on top and four on the bottom.
To learn more about our animal control and animal removal services, please contact us.
The above information was adapted from PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF WILDLIFE DAMAGE with permission of the editors, Scott E. Hygnstrom, Robert M. Timm, and Gary E. Larson (Cooperative Extension Division, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources University of Nebraska-Lincoln, United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Damage Control, Great Plains Agricultural Council Wildlife Committee). It is will great gratitude and appreciation that we are able to pass along this useful information.
Why Choose Us?
- Over 35 Years Experience
- Humanely Treat Animals
- A+ Rating With The BBB