Tell Us: Snakes in the House?

July 20, 2010
Garter Snake
Marc Feldman

Have you ever had a snake in your house? Several people relate horrifying experiences in “Snakes in the House!,” a feature article in The 2011 Old Farmer’s Almanac.

What’s your experience? How did you handle snakes in your house? Tell us all, because you never know…

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rattlers, spiders, and staying alive

The Editors's picture

Whew—this was some armchair adventure, Maggie. Lots to learn from your experience. You have got what it takes! Thanks for sharing these true tales!

Basement Milk Snakes

We have had milk snakes in our basement (crawl-space) in northeastern Vermont for years; only once has one made its way up into the house (about a yard long--I caught it and put it out in the woodshed), and I also found a skin in my bedroom. Recently we had plastic put down there to reduce the moisture from the dirt floors, and the installers removed quite a few snakes. Unfortunately, as a result the mouse population in the house absolutely exploded! We have been trapping the mice but kind of hoping that the milk snakes would just move back in and re-balance the ecosystem. A recent decline in the mouse population suggests they might have. Now that I know how helpful they are I'll be more welcoming; the mice were destructive in a way the snakes never were!

mice and snakes

The Editors's picture

Just goes to show that for every action there is a reaction, Barbara.  …  Remember, if the snakes don’t work out or return for some reason, cats tend to keep mice away, too.

Garter snakes in my house

I live in Flagstaff Arizona and March of last year and then just yesterday June 17 I found a pretty large garter snake on the floor in my bedroom. I think it may have been underneath the bed and just decided to crawl out. I have a cat i'm wondering if she could've brought it in, I did not see any injury to the snake but of course it scared the crap out of me. Like many people I have a strong phobia of snakes. This is actually the third snake that I have found in my house and specifically my bedroom in the last 2 1/2 years. my house is not on the slab I do have a basement or I should say a crawlspace. I'm kind of afraid to go under the house to lock if there is an infestation what should I do ?

The Foundation of the Problem

The Editors's picture

Hi, Chris: Garter snakes won’t harm you and in fact are just part of Nature’s food chain, eating insects and even mice before they are eventually dispensed with themselves. Of course, we understand that this does not assuage your fears. The most important thing you can do is to seal off your house in a very meticulous, careful manner, paying attention to even the tiniest openings. You can do this from the outside. Inspect not just the foundation, but also where it meets the house, plus any possible openings above the ground, such as door jambs. While this may seem impossible at first glance, it is very doable in almost all cases. Whether you have a nest under your house (unlikely, or you would see more snakes) or your place has just become a good place to visit, as you begin to close it off, if “anybody” is down there, they are likely to get the message and leave. Good luck!

Sealing out snakes

One of the most convenient things which could be used to seal out snakes and insects/spiders is one of the expanding aerosol foam products.

My wonderful town turned the vernal pools where mole salamanders, frogs and toad-frogs bred into seldom-used tennis courts. Over the years populations of brown-banded cockroaches burgeoned and toads were seldom seen anymore. My yard had some evergreens which would bleed a lot of sap if I limb were broken off or cut off. Evidently the roaches found this to be delicious nectar. To make things worse a contractor had cut the band-board of the house out to make a cement door-jamb when pouring a cement porch and there were gaps. So a large population of smelly cockroaches could shelter from cold weather by entering the basement through that poorly-executed cut in the band-board. This allowed their population in my yard to become so great that you couldn't stand-still at night without having one run up your leg inside your pants.

Once I discovered about a gallon of the smelly things sheltering from cooler weather on top of my foundation and on the floor joists surrounding that poorly-executed bandboard cut I got out the shop-vac and vacuumed those up but then I went all around my house and filled every crack with an expanding-foam product. The census for brown-banded cockroaches in my yard went down markedly after that and no more buckets of them stenching-up the area around my front door in the basement. That's how I discovered them sheltering there--the stench.

This solution would work equally-well for snakes. I doubt it would discourage rodents ( unfortunately ) unless one wadded up some .25" hardware cloth mesh in larger gaps prior to using the sealant. Those products are easy to use but just be sure you don't get any on anything you don't want having foam stuck to it because the resin they use for that type material will stick to virtually anything.

I hope my roach-exclusion experience will be found helpful to those wishing to excluded snakes.

Diogenes

Two dead snakes

I found a dead chicken snake behind my dryer. Two days later found another dead chicken snake behind the dryer. A few minutes after my dad got the dead one out of the house we saw a live one under the washing machine. it Ended up slithering out a opening that i assume lead under the house. I really would like to know what causef the first two to die in exact same spot and wonder if the third would have died too. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Snakes in the house

My son had a 3.5 foot ball python. He escaped his cage. Was missing for about 3 weeks. Then one day, we start to cook on my glass top stove and there's a horrible stench! Well, needless to say, we found the snake. Don't ever offer me a bite of cooked rattlesnake (they say it tastes like chicken). If it tastes anything like a ball python smells....Yuuuuukkk!!

ball python appetizers

The Editors's picture

That’s a great story, Sherry. Yuck is the word!

Garter snake infestation in rental home

I started renting my home in March in Black Creek, wi. Saw my first sign of snakes in March as well even with snow on the ground! Landlord didnt believe me that there was an infestation at home. He was already planning on changing siding prior to me renting. Well siding project took about 3 to 4 months to complete. Meanwhile i would see snakes randomly in basement and more outside home. Well its fall and with fall snakes tend to hibernate. I was killing a good 20 or more snakes a day on warm days outside my home within 5 feet of walls slithering around. Let landlord know once again that they were outside home and getting into foundation of home. Again he doesnt remedy the situation but tells me if i contact him again about snake issue he is calling cops for harrassment. Well his wife shows up and badically tells me i am crazy as well but while she was outside telling me how "sealed" my home was we saw a really small one about a foot long slithering around outside of walls. She went to kill it i told her "no" watch and see where it goes. Well it planted itself by my dryer vent and basement window. Still telling me i dont have an infestation but agrees to silicone around windows. While in basement i could hear something crawling on insulation in ceiling tiles. Yep it was confirmed i got them inside my home. Her remedy now is to get snake traps instead of hiring a snake expert to remove the source. Today is the day though that we get to see how many are in my home considering i would kill at least 20 outside my home!

infested rental

The Editors's picture

We are speechless, Frances. Best wishes for good riddance.

garter snakes

I can understand there being too many of them, but if you know they are garter snakes why on earth would you keep killing them?! If there are that many then there is what could be a much more serious problem with some sort of pest population in and around that house. There has to be an overpopulation of some sort of food source, bugs or baby mice. I suppose that will become very evident as you kill off those that are working to control it.

I faced such incident

I faced such incident

The first ti.e i spotted a

The first ti.e i spotted a snske in my room going up the ceiling i ran out n it gas been there ever since.I have a snake living in my ceiling. I live in farm house n try as much as I can to keep my surrounding tidy but I have this thick swampy area few meters from my house it house salamander monkeys all sort of animals bush rats even a bear was once spotted. My house is close to a river bank. What do I do.

Snake in the ceiling...

The Editors's picture

Our best recommendation is to contact an animal exterminator (that does not mean that they will kill it), especially if you do not know what type of snake it is. We have also heard of “catching” them in glue traps —sticky sheets, something like fly paper but larger (consult a general hardware or farm supply store). Even if they—or it—stick to the paper, you still have to remove it from your house. To release the snake from the sticky paper or glue trap, spray it with cooking oil. If that sounds like too much, go back to plan A and contact an expert.

Are there some ways to keep

Are there some ways to keep scorpions & snakes uncomfortable around homes in the country. Someone suggested spreading lime around the home. Does this work? If so what kind of lime?

Hi, Ruth: You could spread

The Editors's picture

Hi, Ruth: You could spread garden lime or any number of other substances around, but often this sounds better than it really works. A lot of this depends on the types of snakes and scorpions, but it's important to remember that the reason they sometimes can be around (and in) homes is that they are after the same things you are: warmth, food, and water. Since it would appear that warmth may not be a problem for you, focus on removing (or moving away) as many possible sources of insects and other small animals as possible (such as woodpiles, brush, mulch piles). Don't turn on insect-attracting lights at night. Seal up your home by inspecting every inch for entryways, however small -- and we do mean tiny, tiny. And eliminate (continually) sources of standing or running water. These measures should help -- but then again, the snakes and scorpions were here first and know what they're doing.

We own a nuisance wildlife

We own a nuisance wildlife removal company and get snake calls all summer long and into the early fall and yes we pull many from the inside of homes. But in all the years I have been doing this never have we pulled a venomous snake from inside a home (one was pulled from an office complex front hallway and it was just a baby copperhead but still deadly). Could it happen well sure other snakes find a way in why not a venomous one, regardless unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt what snake it is DO NOT TOUCH it instead call a company like ours and for a reasonable fee will come out and remove it for you. It is by far cheaper to have us come out then get bit by a venomous snake and spend $50,000 and up if you are lucky enough to survive. Any questions you can call 678-935-5900 or visit one of our websites like www.snaketrapping.biz.

Rick

I woke up this morning,

I woke up this morning, meandered into the bathroom and saw a dark squiggly line in the toilet near the lip. Upon closer inspection I realized that it was a small snake, less than a foot long and a half inch around. Without hesitation I flushed the little guy. He went back down the drain and I flushed several times. Then I put toilet bowl cleaner in the bowl and flushed a couple more times. Thankfully I'm not afraid of snakes but it would have freaked me out if I found one in the toilet while actually using the facilities.

I too have an extreme phobia

I too have an extreme phobia of snakes. My husband and I just bought a wonderful old farmhouse with an attached barn. Luckily we live in Maine so almost all snakes are non-poisonous but that doesn't make them any less frightening. They are ALL anacondas to me!! We have mice and unfortunately rats because the former owner kept animals. The Pest Control gentleman tells us anyone who has grain will get rats no matter how clean they keep the barn and surrounding areas. We have had mice and baby rats come into the house and even up to our bedroom on the second floor so I can only imagine where rodents can travel, snakes can follow. AARGH...We have removed all grain except the hanging chicken feeders. All grain for them is stored in large steel trashcans with tight lids. We have no wood piles near the house and I refuse to have any rock walls because snakes love them. I am petrified a snake will get into the house. Sealing up all holes in the crawlspace under the house is virtually impossible because of the old granite foundation. Do mothballs work as a repellent or are commercial snake repellents effective? I have dogs and cats so I don't want anything harmful to them. I'm sorry as helpful as everyone tries to convince me snakes are, I really am not concerned about their well being. My anxiety level is rising as spring nears.

I want to put in a garden but am afraid of snakes in the raised beds I have here. I thought I would keep weeds at bay and reduce the hiding places for snakes in weeds by putting a thick layer of straw mulch down between the boxes. A friend said mice love straw-therefore I would be inviting the snakes to my garden as they love mice. Makes me want to call a realtor if I ever see one in the house. Anyone have suggestions besides Valium? Thanks...Lisa

from time to time, we will

from time to time, we will get garter snakes & milk snakes in the house...

if the dog or the cat doesn't kill them & eat them, then I'll catch them, kill them & save till I have enough for a nice dinner.

Not trying to gross anyone out, it's just that I happen to like snake meat...even poisonous snakes can be found on my dinner table.
Poisonous snakes though, need to be cleaned differently...if you break the venom sack, the whole snake goes into the compost pile.

Venomous snakes as food

Guess what?

So long as you don't have any bad cavities in your teeth or other open lesions in your upper-G.I. tract you could eat venom-contaminated meat from snakes all day and all night. I didn't see you listing coral snakes on your menu so I'm assuming you don't have those. I'm not so sure I'd eat their venom--raw.

Likely you're *cooking* the snake meat you eat so that would further denature the venom. The big concern is getting it injected into your circulatory system. Even in the case of a bad case of dental carries with an exposed pulp the main concern there would probably be damage to the pulp and some really unbearable pain from most of the venomous snakes---the pit-vipers ( unless you live where the mojave "green" rattlesnakes live because they have a potent neurotoxin and any of that seeping into your tissues in any way might harm you ).

Your ophidiovore tendencies neither gross me out nor do they anger me as a dedicated lifelong friend of snakes. I'm all for the principle of eating what we kill if it's anything edible.

So apparently you're not in-agreement with Paul Hogan's' Mick Dundee character that "bush tucker" all tastes like crap?

If I ever found myself in a situation where I'd feel it necessary to kill a larger thick-bodied snake---likely it would be a pit-viper of some sort---I would definitely be tempted to eat the flesh---if for no other reason than just to see if there were enough meat on 'em to make it worth dressing and preparing 'em. I'll eat even medium-sized sunfish, stump-knockers, bluegill and so-forth. While it's doubtful you'll read this after all this time and answer I'm going to ask anyway. Do the various species have different flavors like fish do? If so what would you rate as the best-flavored snake flesh? What would be the worst? Do you eat any of the organ meat like the livers or hearts/lungs? Ever tried "snake roe"---ovaries full of eggs?

I would think on many of the snakes you'd be far more advised to steer clear of musk glands around the vent. Many common snakes are capable of generating highly-unpleasant musks *I* sure wouldn't want to eat if it had contaminated the meat.

I await your reply eagerly. I don't think I've ever encountered anyone who actually admitted to having dined on snake-flesh before!

Diogenes

I have had three earth snakes

I have had three earth snakes in my house in the last month. The first one was "presented" to us by our cat -- just outside our first-floor bedroom door. The second one was also killed by our cat, and left in the first-floor living room. The third was found very much alive on the SECOND FLOOR in my daughter's bedroom! We are city folks who just moved to the country, and we are a little freaked out by snakes in our house! (Not to mention the scorpions, but that is a different subject...) HELP!

There are a few things you

The Editors's picture

There are a few things you can try:
1. Cover the openings of floor drains and any outside pipe outlets with a layer of wire mesh.
2. Plug steel wool or expanding foam into every opening you can find along your foundation or walls. (Baby snakes can fit through a 1/4-inch hole.)
3. Mow the grass around your house closely and avoid dense foundation plantings.
4. Don't let pet food sit in an outside bowl, and keep bird-feeding areas tidy to avoid attracting mice (which in turn, attract snakes).

My wonderful kitty had a

My wonderful kitty had a garter snake trapped under our Christmas tree this evening. I went around the house screaming snake, lol. My ten year old son said we are keeping it. I'm not sure how I feel with keeping a snake that found it's way into our house and now he wants to keep it. Reading that putting it outside this time of year could be a death sentence for it, I feel bad and will probably find a way to keep it without getting the hee-bee-jee-bees every second that I think that there is a snake slithering around in our house. It creeps me out. My kids are happy about it though and my kitty, I thought my short haired kitty had turned into a long haired one from the looks of her giant blown up tail! What a night!

We get spiders in our

We get spiders in our basement.
We live in a rural area. It is remote were i live.
We are starting to get miliipedes and spiders
I just put them outside but my dad does not like them.
Do millipedes spray a poisonous liquid? I am not sure.

Millipedes live in moist

The Editors's picture

Millipedes live in moist places or areas with high humidity—conditions that describe many cellars.
The fluid that they spray is not poisonous if you mean fatal; however, it can be irritating, so it is not something that you want to get on your skin or in your eyes. On the skin of some individuals, it can cause long-term discoloration and a burning sensation. If you get it into your eyes, you may experience irritation. So wear gloves and do not touch the gloves to your eyes or skin after handling millipedes. If possible reduce the moisture/humidity in the basement and, if you prefer not to touch the millipedes...some sources recommend vacuuming them up! If you chose to do that, take care in emptying the vacuum, too. We hope this helps.

A month ago I found a pygmy

A month ago I found a pygmy rattler on the floor beside my bed about 11:30 at night. I have found snakes in the basement, where my washer and dryer are, but not on the main floor of the house. Luckily, I had a garden hoe by the back door and killed it, posting a picture of it on FB. It wouldn't have scared me so bad if it hadn't been a venomous one. I have been sleeping on the couch since....

That's a shame! Believe me I

That's a shame! Believe me I have a phobia of snakes. I just found a rat snake in my living room today and I threw it outside. But while doing research I seen where the phgmy rattler is almost extinct. I will shoot a snake faster than anybody but you should have got someone to get it being that the world may not be lucky enough to still have them in a couple years.

One day I went out to the

One day I went out to the garden for some tomatoes for dinner. I have no idea why, but I was wearing thick slipper socks that day. When I came inside and took off my boots, a garter snake was stuck to the bottom of my foot! I freaked out, shaking my foot until the dead snake flew across the room into a corner. My husband was napping so had no desire to get up and get the snake. He said, "Just pick it up and throw it outside". There was no way that was going to happen or that he would continue napping. Thankfully I have never found a live snake in the house.

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