HUMANE SOLUTIONS TO SNAKE PROBLEMS
Snakes are classified as reptiles and rely on the outside temperatures to reach a certain minimum body temperature before becoming active
On most occasions, snakes try to avoid contact with people.
- Snakes are protected as a non-game species in most states.
- There are two types of rattlesnakes in the Colorado area.
- Snakes are deaf but can detect vibrations. Vision and smell are their primary senses.
- Only 1,000 people are bitten annually with 3% or less being fatal. Most human snake encounters occur where mice and insects abound.
Public Health Issues:
Snakes are not known to transmit any diseases to humans. Non-poisonous snake bites that break the skin should be treated like any puncture wound with potential for infection. Victims of poisonous bites should stay calm and inactive, if possible, and should seek a doctor immediately. Physicians now urge people not to administer first aid for a snake bite since most procedures do more harm than good.
In most states snakes are classified as protected nongame species under the wildlife law. A non-poisonous snake may not be harmed except under the special conditions set by the game department. The regulations governing the control of snakes can be obtained from a Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife.
Snakes are extremely important and beneficial to the natural environment because they are a vital element in the control of insects and small vertebrate pests such as mice. Their diet consists entirely of such animals.
Snakes have many enemies in the natural world, such as livestock, (chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys), and other snakes, raptors, cranes, herons, skunks, bears, badgers, and raccoons. Their worst enemy however, is humans because of habitat destruction and human fear. Humans kill many snakes each year solely out of fear and ignorance; most of the snakes are later identified as harmless species.
Problems and Solutions:
Snake in the Yard
The presence of a snake indicates that there is appropriate habitat available, and it may have lived nearby for years without being observed, if left alone, the snake may never be encountered again. A homeowner may minimize the chance of a snake taking up residence in the yard by making the area unattractive to it. This means removing potential hiding places for snakes and their prey, which are piles of rocks, wood, or other debris, tall grass and undergrowth, cracks around concrete porches and sidewalks, and storage sheds with space under the floor. Pet foods and household garbage left unprotected outside overnight attract rodents, and, in turn, the presence of rats or mice may attract snakes. Grounds that are manicured and kept free of debris generally make poor snake habitat.
It is possible to construct a snake proof fence around a yard out of 1/4 inch mesh hardware cloth that is buried 2 inches at the base, and angled outward approximately 30 degrees, and 3 feet high. Gates have to seal tightly if the fence is to be truly snake proof.
Snake in the House
When a snake is discovered in a house, remain calm and avoid any act that might disturb it and drive it into hiding. It may be possible to carefully open a nearby door and use a broom to gently, and quietly, herd it out. Or it may be possible to place an empty pale or waste basket slowly over a small or coiled snake and then put weight on it to contain the snake until an experienced handler can come to remove it. You can also try and confine the snake to a room or corner it with barriers such as boards or boxes so that it will be available for capture when the snake handler arrives.
Snakes usually enter a premise at ground level, perhaps through a tiny crack or hole no more than 1/8 inch wide. An intensive inspection of the foundation for unsealed wire or pipe conduits or basement windows or doors that do not seal tightly will usually reveal the snake entrance. All such openings should be sealed immediately.