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What to Do About Snakes Around Your Pond
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What to Do About Snakes Around Your Pond

Snakes and Your Backyard

Snakes are a common sight in backyards across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. While they may be scary to some, snakes are an important part of the ecosystem. Most snakes are nonvenomous and can even help keep unwanted animal populations under control.

Snakes Around Your Pond

Ponds are a natural attraction for snakes, as they provide a source of water and food. Water snakes hide in plants near the edge of the pond and hunt for small critters. At night, they look for sleeping fish in the shallow water. You will rarely see a snake during the winter time. They come back into the sunlight in the spring, ready to eat and breed. Your typical backyard guests will vary based on your specific location, so be sure to learn about your local snakes (especially venomous varieties!).

Some common nonvenomous snakes in North America include:

  • Eastern ratsnake
  • Racer
  • Corn snake
  • Garter snake
  • Northern water snake
  • Kingsnake & milksnake

Note: there are no entirely black venomous snakes in North America. Species such as black ratsnakes and racers are nonvenomous. Always check for a rattle and err on the side of caution!

Some common venomous snakes in North America include:

  • Rattlesnake
  • Copperhead
  • Cottonmouth/Water Moccasins
  • Coral snakes

Note: there are small isolated populations of rattlesnakes in Canada, but venomous snakes are much less common there compared to Mexico and the United States.

Identifying Snakes

If you see a snake in your yard, the first step is to identify it. There are a few key differences between venomous and nonvenomous snakes. Venomous snakes typically have triangular-shaped heads, thick bodies, elongated pupils that look like a cat's, and swim with their entire bodies on the surface of the water. Nonvenomous snakes typically have rounder heads, slimmer bodies, round pupils, and mainly swim with just their heads out of the water, but some species are known to mimic their venomous counterparts.

What to Do if You See a Snake

If you see a snake in your yard, the best thing to do is to leave it alone. Most snakes will not bite unless they feel threatened. If you are unsure if a snake is venomous or not, you can contact your local university extension office or wildlife service for more information.

How to Keep Snakes Out of Your Yard

There are a few things you can do to keep snakes out of your yard:

  • Keep your yard free of debris. Snakes find refuge in piles of yard debris and firewood.
  • Maintain your landscape by mowing grass and pruning shrubs. Snakes like to hide in tall grasses and brush.
  • Seal up any holes or cracks in your foundation or walls. This will prevent snakes from entering your home.
  • Eliminate standing water, especially during dry spells. Snakes, like other wildlife, are attracted to water. 

Safety Tips

  • Always check your shoes and boots before putting them on.
  • Make sure your house doesn’t have any openings for snakes to slither in.
  • Keep your lawn trimmed and scan areas before walking.

Repelling Snakes with Plants

There are a few plants that are said to repel snakes, including marigolds, pink agapanthus, sarpagandha, lemon grass, rosemary, lavender, wormwood, and mother-in-laws tongue. Planting these plants around the perimeter of your yard may help to keep snakes out, but their efficacy is debatable.

Living with Snakes

Snakes are a natural part of our environment and are an important part of the ecosystem. It is important to be respectful of snakes and to avoid harming them. If you see a snake in your yard, the best thing to do is to leave it alone.

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