If you recently moved to the country, or have lived there for many years, one reptile can be a real problem: rattlesnakes. If you do not know how to keep them out of your yard, you, your child, or your pet could be in for a nasty and painful surprise. Keep reading to find out what to do about it.
What Attracts Rattlesnakes to Yards?
Rattlesnakes like to take it easy during the fall and winter months, and more active during the spring and summer. This means they are much more on the move from place to place when it is warmer out. Even if you have not found a rattlesnake on your property before, it can still travel to your yard in the future.
#2. Rock & Wall Features
Rock walls often have loose rocks near the base or crevices that are fine places for a rattlesnake to rest in. Rattlesnakes are not good at climbing walls, so they will probably not be able to get over one on your property. However, if there are nearby debris or objects that can allow them to straddle the wall, or provide a gripping surface for their skin, they may be able to sneak over the top and get into your yard. So, make sure any rock walls on your land is not favorable for snakes to either hide in, go under, or slide over. This also includes small brick walls for landscaping purposes.
Fencing that has openings at the base is very easy for rattlesnakes to get through. This includes chainlink and wood fencing, even fencing that is solid and boarded on one side. Ranch fencing is especially easy for snakes to cross, and if your property is large enough without any neighbors close by, it might not have any fencing on it at all. When constructing or modifying fences on your property, aim to make them as snake-proof as possible. You can even purchase and install a snake fence on the perimeter of your property.
Rattlesnakes like to slither through grass and under plants and trees. However, since these are great for landscaping a property to make it attractive, it can also welcome snakes and other rodents. Tall grasses especially are well suited for rattlesnakes to travel through and hide in. Since these areas are also suitable for rodents and insects, rattlesnakes can find plenty of food in them which will keep them coming back again and again. So, if you have tall grasses and overgrown bushes on your property, consider keeping them well-trimmed.
Like all creatures, rattlesnakes need water to survive. So, if you have open water sources on your property such as leaky pipes, sprinklers, pet bowls, drainage areas, fountains, or fish ponds, rattlesnakes will definitely take notice. If possible, keep these water sources to a minimum, and be wary of snakes when you are nearby. Also, consider fencing them off from pets that could roam into the area and be bitten by a rattlesnake.
#6. Snake Food Attractors (rodents, birds, insects)
As mentioned, rattlesnakes like to eat rodents and large insects that are within their hunting range. So, if you have plenty of these on your property, it is a prime location for a good rattlesnake buffet. If you cannot completely rid your yard of these, just be aware that a rattlesnake (or any snake for that matter) could be lurking nearby looking for an easy meal.
Rattlesnakes are greatly affected by the temperature, whether hot or cold and this influences their behavior. When it gets warm they like to get outside in the open and move around. However, when it becomes too hot, they need to cool down and rest and get out of direct sunlight. So, shade areas on your property such as wood or compost piles are prime locations for snakes to hide in. This is especially true towards the end of the summer when snakes may be preparing to hunker down for winter.
Rattlesnakes look for man-made and natural objects such as rockpiles, sheds, or decks to stay warm and protected during the winter months when they brumate. If these places are nearby water sources, such as a barn then this is an added bonus to them. If you can block these areas off somehow by doing some DIY then this can help keep rattlesnakes from making it their winter home.
#9. Hiding Places
Rattlesnakes, like all animals, like to hide and stay away from potential predators so they feel safe. This means any place in your yard that offers safety to a rattlesnake when animals are nearby is something they may use. So, it is best to look for these and remove them or repair them if possible. This includes decks, sheds, tall grasses, and rock walls.
#10. Surrounding Area
If there is open terrain surrounding your yard or property, this can be home to lots of snakes and rodents. If you can, keep these areas trimmed of tall grasses and tighten up the water sources. If you are not able to, just keep in mind that snakes could be living nearby. If you own a large property, but only keep a small yard or garden, be aware that this is not enough to keep rattlesnakes from getting up and close to your home. Keep grasses, plants, and shrubs trimmed so you can see what could be hiding within or underneath them. Gardens are prime areas for snakes to make a home in, so make sure to keep any branches, leaves or mulch piles well managed. If you put in some effort, its possible to make your yard mostly rattlesnake-proof. Take a stroll around your property from time to time and look for any hiding places a rattlesnake might want to reside in and get rid of them. You can even set snake traps if rattlesnakes become too common or if you keep pets and small livestock.
Snake repellant is another option to use on your property. However, the smell might be too strong for any person nearby. These also lose their potency rather quickly as the odor disappears fast. Even so, this might be an option to consider to use to keep rattlesnakes away.
What To Do If You Find A Rattlesnake On Your Property?
With rising temperatures due to climate change, rattlesnakes may be inclined to more activity, for longer periods. This means the trend of rattlesnakes entering properties may increase over time. If you live in areas known as good rattlesnake regions, such as the southwestern USA, then you may come across a rattlesnake on your property in the warmer months. If you do, there are certain actions you should take. Always be extremely careful around a rattlesnake and do not try to handle them without the proper tools and protection. If you feel unable to deal with one yourself, you can always call the local snake or rodent removal service to come out and take care of it.
For more information, see our post The Secret to Removing a Rattlesnake Safely From Your Yard
Keeping your yard free of rattlesnakes may not be entirely possible, but if you follow these common sense solutions, you can prevent many of them from hanging around and risking your family’s health and safety.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.