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Along with rats, spiders, and mosquitoes, snakes are some of the most persecuted animal species on the planet. People fear snakes. But unlike rats, spiders, and mosquitoes, snakes do not breed rapidly. They can't live just anywhere. Unlike regular vermin, snakes are rare creatures, and they need good habitat to survive. Many snake species are threatened and endangered. It's amazing that they manage to hang on, in spite of our urban development, highways, etc. The last thing they need is deliberate killing. Here is what I've seen people use to kill snakes:
If you want to kill a snake, there are a variety of methods - the most popular appear to be shooting, or chopping the head off with a shovel or other garden tool. If you do either of these, you're basically an ignorant jerk. I know it won't help changing your mind for me to say that, but it's true. Most people seem to be learning, gaining an understanding that creatures like sharks and snakes are not monsters, but rare and threatened creatures that are an important part of the ecosystem - that of course homo sapiens is by far the true killing machine.
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And I apologize if I seem arrogant in the below image. It's just that I like snakes, I know they are beneficial, and I get so many emails from readers showing harmless snakes killed for no reason. I'm just hoping people make the right decision. You likely came to this page when researching what kills snakes, and you want answers, not someone preaching.
Look at the above and below dead snake photographs. Many people send me emails of snakes they've killed, and which they now want identified. It always goes something like, "we found a snake near our patio, luckily we were able to kill it, can you tell me what kind of snake it is?". Every time, it's a harmless and beneficial snake. Not once has someone sent me a photo of a killed venomous snake - mostly because they're rare.
Again, believe me or not (you probably won't if you're of the redneck ignorant asshole variety), but I talked to a couple emergency room doctors here in Florida, and they've all seen a few snakebite cases over the years. Every doctor told me that the bites occurred when people were trying to kill snakes!!! The irony. In fact, I remember a few years ago when a fireman was killed here in Central Florida by a rare Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. He shot the snake several times, thought it was dead, went to pick it up, and the snake reflexively struck him in the hand. Please read my snake safety tips for more info on how to keep safe around snakes, rather than just trying to kill them. I'd rather not receive any more dead snake pictures. I've already gotten at least 50 pix of dead snakes, and I get pissed off every time. Feel free to send me photographs of live snakes, and I'll identify them for you, but I have enough dead snake images.
How to kill snakes in the house - You shouldn’t have to kill any snakes at any time. Snakes are not problem animals; they do not purposefully enter a home to live there, and they do not cause damage if they are inside. Snakes in the home mean that there is a damaged area that needs repair. The snakes, if they are nonvenomous, are easily handled with snake hooks or a good pair of gloves. Trying to kill the snake will only serve to aggravate it. Any snake will bite if you annoy it enough. The no-kill rule is especially important when it comes to venomous snakes in the home. It’s not that venomous snakes deserve better treatment than other snakes, but venomous snakes have a much more lethal reaction to harassment. Snake bites in North America from venomous snakes almost always happen when someone is trying to kill or pick up a poisonous serpent. Do not try to whack the animal on the head with a garden tool. The moment you swing for the snake it will become alarmed. The reach of the garden tool will be shorter than the reach of the snake. If the animal strikes, you will be well within range.
Get rid of snakes by killing them - Snakes are a part of the world, and as such, it is impossible to be completely rid of them unless you fortify yourself inside a solid bubble of protection. The best you can hope to do is keep your snake interactions at a minimum. For the active homeowner, this is not that big of a task. The biggest step in to get rid of snakes is to evaluate the appearance of your yard. Snakes may be predators, but they are also prey for many larger animals. A snake will want to live in a yard that has tall grass and thick vegetation. This does not mean you have to eliminate all of your designer plants, but it does mean that you need to make smart choices when planting your garden. Avoid any plants that are low to the ground or are ground cover. You want to keep any snakes as exposed as possible. Taking away the animal’s sense of security is part of the battle. Aside from vegetation management, the items in your yard need to be inspected. Snakes love anything they can wiggle under. Big favorites are rock walls and patios. Make sure all out buildings are flush to the ground and keep your home’s foundation in good repair.
Here are some other snake links:
How To Trap Snakes
What Animals Kill Snakes
Color Rhyme for Coral Snakes
How Can You Tell if a Snake is Poisonous
How to Kill Snakes
Snake Safety Tips
How to Catch Snakes
How Do You Keep Snakes Away
Do Mothballs Keep Away Snakes
Eastern Coral Snake
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Snakes in the Attic
Snakes in the Basement
Get snakes out of a pool
Photographs of Snake Poop
One of the natural instincts that many people will have when they get a pest animal in their yard is to kill it, and when it comes to snakes, then there is that additional threat that comes with some species actually being venomous. This isn't to mean that snakes in the yard is always a bad thing, as they can often help to resolve a rodent infestation, or eat other pest animals that cause more damage than the snakes themselves do. However, here are some of the options available if you do wish to kill a snake in the yard.
Shooting The Snake
This is a fairly tough option as you will usually need to be a good shot and catch them from quite a distance, as most snakes will slither away once they are aware of you. Try to shoot them through the head to ensure a clean kill, and make sure that you deal with the carcass appropriately, otherwise it may draw other pest animals.
Removing The Snake's Head With A Shovel
Although there are many ways to deal with a snake, one of the most disturbing facts is that there are many people who will actually use a shovel to kill and decapitate the snake. This is certainly not a good idea, as it puts you within striking distance of the snake if it is venomous, and is an unnecessarily brutal way to deal with the animal.
Lethal Snake Traps
There are relatively few lethal snake traps available on the market, so in most cases you will need to use one of the traditional glue or maze traps to catch the snake, and then kill it using another method. However, if you have gone this far, it is often less hassle and fuss to just release the snake away from your yard, so it can't cause you any further problems.
Alternative Ways Of Dealing With A Snake In The Yard
There are several ways you can use to deal with snakes, and while using non-lethal traps and relocating them is one option, installing an effective snake fence is another good option. This will place a solid barrier around your property preventing the snakes from getting in, and provides a more permanent solution to the problem, and saving you from having to repeatedly kill pest animals that make it into the yard.
Knowing how to kill a snake is not difficult in the least; a lot of people simply whack them on the head with a garden tool or aim for them with a shotgun. The pertinent point to note is that most cases of snake bites arise from such snake killing attempts and in some cases, the snakes are venomous – poisonous and deadly. For this reason, you may want to get rid of a snake pest by other methods like trapping and disposing or get professional help.
Also worthy of consideration is the key role that snakes play in the ecosystem, but if you still wish to go on with killing your snake pest for reasons best known to you, here are some ways to go about it:
Snake traps – lethal traps are about the easiest way to get the job done. They lure in the snake, trap it by the head, and snap it instantly, leading to a fast and humane death for the reptile. This is the drill when the trap works correctly, which it does not in a few instances. If your snake trap catches the snake but fails to kill it, you must move closer and sever its head without releasing it from the trap. Exercise a lot of caution while doing this as the snake at this point is injured, scared, and spitting mad. Once the head has been severed, you may dispose of the snake.
The trap(s) should be placed at vantage positions around where the snake has been sighted. Common places for snake habitation are foundation holes and fence holes. You would want to check your trap often too, as a dead snake not quickly disposed can create further problems like a putrid stink all over the house or even attracting other pests into your space.
Fire arms – this is another humane method of killing snakes, if done well that is. Be sure you can get a good aim at the animal’s head before taking the shot. The snake will drop dead immediately. If however, the shot misses, you may just end up with an irate snake thrashing around in your yard. It is thus important to be sure of your marksmanship before opting for this method. The rate of success with gun killing is also low due to the small size of most trespassing snakes. You must also familiarize yourself with the gun laws in your area so as to not get into trouble with the law.
Clubbing – there is also the option of bludgeoning the snake over the head with a stout stick or a garden tool. This obviously requires that you be close enough to the animal to deal the killing blow. Alternatively, go for the head with a sharp object, but make sure you hit it on the first try. Remember that while a snake would normally not attack humans, one that feels threatened will defend itself and this could lead to dire consequences, whether the snake is venomous or not (more dire with a venomous snake of course).
Why poison does not work
Poison does not work for killing snakes for the simple reason that snake feed on live food – rodents, insects, etc., which of course cannot be poisoned or they’d be dead and the snake wouldn’t eat them.
Whatever method you decide to use, you must first get familiar with the animal control laws in your locality and be careful not to contravene any of them. Some states require you to get a permit while some prescribe the acceptable method of killing wildlife.
Another consideration you want to look at is the question – are you able to confidently distinguish between a venomous snake and a non-venomous one? Especially if venomous snakes are common in your area. Examples of venomous snakes are cobra and the rattlesnake; these are better left for wildlife practitioners or animal control to tackle. If you are not sure if the snake is venomous, it is better to err on the side of caution and put a call through to your animal department or practitioner.
Trapping and removal remain the best ways to get rid of your snake pests, rather than killing. And if you must kill, stay out of harm’s way and get a professional to do the job.
Go back to the Snake Removal page.