During spring and fall, temperatures are perfect for snakes to be out and about during the day. Not too cold, not too hot, just right for startling unsuspecting gardeners who are also outside taking advantage of the pleasant weather. During the summer, you need to watch out for snakes more in the early morning and at night, but they’re likely to be hidden away someplace dark and cool during the heat of the day.
While most snakes are nonpoisonous and tend to avoid contact with people when given the chance, they can still give quite a scare. The best way to avoid trouble with snakes is to understand their habits and how to avoid close contact with them.
Follow these tips:
1. Avoid Snake Habitat: In general, snakes hang out in damp, cool, protected areas. Watch out for them around rocky streams, wooded areas, retaining walls, garages, or anyplace around your house where there might be cave like conditions. Keep debris and wood piles far away from your house, and screen off underneath porches and crawl spaces to keep snakes out.
2. Watering Attracts Snakes: If you keep your lawn and garden well irrigated, you’re more likely to attract frogs, lizards, birds, and rodents which attract snakes. Well-watered, mulched areas (such as shrub beds and vegetable gardens) also offer cool shelter for snakes in summer, so be careful when walking or working in these areas.
3. Control Rodents: Snakes eat rodents, small reptiles, and birds. To minimize snakes around your house, keep bird feeders and nesting boxes away from the house, and work to reduce the rodent population.
4. Know Where to Find Snakes: On hot days especially, watch out for snakes in shady, cool areas – such as under your car or beneath piles of wood or debris. On cold days, expect to find snakes warming themselves in the sun, on a warm rock, or even a driveway or car engine. On perfect spring and fall days, keep an eye out most anywhere!
5. Understand Snake Temperament: Snakes are rather sluggish in early spring when they first come out of hibernation, and in late fall when they’re getting ready to sleep again. During these times, they may be too inactive to move out of the way or warn you before striking. During warmer months snakes are more active and fast-moving, so you may get more warning before they strike, but they can also be more energetic and aggressive.
6. Lift Carefully: When lifting something off the ground that could have a snake underneath, use a pole, and lift it toward you, so that the object will be between you and the snake. If you lift it away from you, the snake – if there is one – is more likely to run over your foot!
7. Don’t Tiptoe: Snakes don’t hear very well, but they’re great at picking up vibrations. Make plenty of noise when hiking or working outdoors, so that neither of you is startled.
8. Stay Vigilant: Watch where you walk and reach, especially in areas with rocks or crevices.
9. Remain on the Beaten Path: When walking outdoors, stick to open paths and steer clear of overgrown areas or fallen logs.
10. Respect Snakes Space: If you see a snake, don’t panic; just slowly move away. Don’t try to make the snake move; if it’s in your way, simply wait for the snake to leave. Snakes will move on once they’ve exhausted the food source, so unless you have a never-ending rodent population, they’re likely not to hang around your yard forever.
- Dealing with Black Snakes Around Your Home or Garden (article)
- Snakes of North America (University of Pittsburgh)