By Rachel Woll and Philip Clevinger
Springtime is in full swing and warmer weather is upon us. On go the air conditioning units and fans, off come the sweatshirts and outside goes the family for gardening, park play days and BBQs. With all our modern luxury we can easily forget we are living right in the middle of one of the harshest types of environments on earth – a desert. With recent snake sightings and bites being reported, its essential to discuss:
Are you inviting snakes into your yard?
Snakes are living beings requiring food, water and shelter to survive. This is the time of the year that they become active. The warmer weather stimulates them to wake from hibernation and seek food and water. Reptiles are ectothermic, meaning they regulate their body temperature by positioning themselves in their environment. Our streets, cars, homes and yards provide the necessary heat and shade they need to stay at a comfortable temperature. Most snake species in our area eat rodents as a primary diet. Rodents are attracted to human beings because of food, water and shelter provided by living in our proximity. Snakes, even rattlesnakes, follow the mice-sometimes into our yards and homes. Though the majority of our native snakes are harmless (21 out of approximately 25 native species), we don’t have to tell you that these are not desirable house guests for most people.
So how do we keep our yards snake free? We will start off by saying there is no way to 100% guarantee that snakes will not enter your yard, but if you abide by the following you can significantly reduce the probability of attracting them. First and foremost clean up your yard. Piles of weeds, trash, and wood can attract snakes seeking a meal or a place to rest. It is recommended to clean up weeds and thick brush, and remove piles of trash and wood. Rake up hay, dog food or other trash items to discourage mice. Clear open spaces make snakes vulnerable to attack from hawks and discourage them from using your yard as a pathway. Doing this year round is crucial to keep animals from taking up residence in your yard. If you are still wanting to keep a woodpile we recommend keeping it far away from your house, in a trailer or metal wheelbarrow to make it less desirable to live in. Let us be clear, choosing to have a woodpile is choosing to some degree to invite snakes onto your property. Secondly, plug up holes made by existing wildlife, such as ground squirrel burrows, as well as gaps in your foundation. Using dirt, not rocks will ensure a solid plug of these holes. There are commercial snake repellents available but we hesitate to recommend using them because of inconclusive results and unknown reliability of these products.
Finally, check standing water such as ponds, dog bowls, and livestock troughs often. Standing water is very attractive to snakes and they may choose to rest near or under these. We have had a very dry winter this year, and it is plausible that we will see high numbers of snakes wandering into communities in search of water. If you live facing or backing open desert there is unfortunately no way to completely discourage your wild neighbors from wandering onto your property. Your home and yard provides shelter and water right on the edge of a dry, harsh environment. In the case that you do see a snake, stop, slowly back away to a safe distance and call animal control or a snake removal service. Use caution when outside; look on, around, and under anything you intend to walk on or touch. In the unfortunate event of a snakebite, remain calm, identify the snake if possible (by photo or memorizing distinguishing characteristics) and get to a hospital or call 911.
For further questions, or snake relocation please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 760-490-9617 (ask for Phil)