Snake question

Asked July 22, 2013, 7:30 PM EDT

How to reel black snakes from my house (near farmland)?

Sussex County Delaware

1 Response

Thank you for your question. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the term "reel" as it relates to snakes, but I'll assume you're asking how to keep them out of your house. There are also two different species of snakes that people refer to as black snakes: the black racer and black rat snake, both of which occur in Delaware. Usually, it's the black rat snake that routinely finds its way into homes, and it's usually the juveniles.

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent snakes from entering your house, there are some precautions you can take to minimize the chances of snakes visiting your property. First, keep your grass mowed. Tall grass/weeds provide shelter and habitat for rodents. Second, don't allow piles of anything to build up in your yard. This can be piles of tree branches, lumber, bricks, etc. Again, all of these provide excellent habitat for rodents. If you create a good home for rodents to live and nest, chances are pretty good you'll eventually find some snakes, who are there hunting for rodents.

There are some things you can check to deter snakes from entering your home. Make sure your family is not leaving any doors standing open. I have had several situations where someone reported a snake in their home, and after questioning them, I found they kept their sliding glass door to the patio or deck open for extended periods of time. Check your doors to make sure there are no gaps between the door and the floor. Snakes, especially juveniles, can pass through very small gaps. Check your screens to make sure they fit securely and are not torn. If you bring potted plants (e.g., ferns) in from the outside, check them first to make sure there are no small snakes present. Check under your sinks for large holes in the wall where water pipes come in from under the house. For some reason, when plumbing is installed, they always make the holes for pipes much bigger than they need to be. These can serve as entryways for several species of wildlife. If you have a fireplace, check to make sure there are no gaps between it and the walls of your home.

Those are the main steps I can recommend. Again, when it comes to wildlife, there are few guarantees. Also, in case you are not aware of this already, black rat snakes and black racers are nonvenomous. I have attached photographs of a juvenile and adult black rat snake.

Hope this provides you with some useful information. If you have any further questions, you can contact me by e-mail. Thanks for using Ask an Expert.

Jim