How to Spot Snake Holes in Your Yard—and What to Do If You Find Them
Consider this course of action if you discover snake signs while working on your lawn.
Even though all yards start off with a design plan, it doesn't take long for nature to take its course and have its own effects on your green space. From unwanted pests to potentially dangerous invasive plants, keeping your outdoor sanctuary the way you like it can be an uphill battle. In some cases, this can also mean noticing that a reptile has made its home in the ground beneath your lawn. But what's the best way to manage the issue? Read on to see how experts say you can spot snake holes in your yard, and the best course of action if you find them.
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Snakes are usually a huge boost for your yard or garden's health.
Even the most avid gardener or greenskeeper doesn't love the idea of being surprised by a snake while going about their duties. But those who genuinely understand the ecology of their lawns also know that the reptiles are actually the best solution to common problems, helping to control the pest and insect population by eating mice, rats, moles, crickets, cockroaches, and other unwanted invaders.
"Snakes tend to get a bad rap from homeowners, but not all snakes are dangerous or even bad to have around your yard," Burns Blackwell, owner of Terminix Triad in North Carolina, previously told Best Life. "That being said, you do want to know when you have snakes around your property so you can keep your family and pets safe."
There's an easy way to tell if a snake has moved into a hole in your yard.
Finding small burrows or holes in your yard after seeing snakes nearby can make it easy to jump to the conclusion that they're digging into your yard. But according to experts, it's more likely that they're taking advantage of another animal's work.
"Snakes generally can't make their own nests because they don't have paws, and they don't have the mental capacity to create nests. But they will take over old rodent nests as well as use underground burrows and holes," Blackwell told Best Life.
Coincidentally, seeing a snake around when holes begin to appear can sometimes mean they're assuming their natural role as natural pest control. However, there's one way to tell when a reptile has moved in for sure. According to Blackwell, "Snake holes are hard to identify because they often use leftover mole or vole holes, so you should look for snakeskin in and around these holes to identify that it's home to a snake and not a mole."
But it's not just shedding that can be a giveaway: Finding certain droppings is also a sign of reptile activity. Typically, you should look for dark brown smears with a white end for evidence of a snake in your yard, according to the experts at BobVila.com.
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Make sure any snake hole is empty before you begin to deal with it—and always seal it properly.
Of course, burrows can be used and abandoned over time. But according to experts, seeing either skins or scat is a good indication that a snake was recently nearby, with the professionals at Terminix advising that they usually begin to biodegrade or get eaten by insects "within a matter of days" after they're left behind.
If you find evidence that a snake has moved in, experts say it may be worth figuring out which type it is by keeping a keen eye on your yard or even installing a camera. After all, perfectly harmless non-venomous species of snake will continue to take care of pests that could otherwise wreak havoc on your garden.
However, if the reptiles pose a threat to pets or people, you can choose to get rid of the existing hole once you determine it's empty. To do this, simply fill it with dirt or cover the entrance with burlap, netting, or wire mesh, according to BobVila.com. At the same time, it's essential not to use loose piles of material to cover any burrows, as that will only make it more inviting for snakes. Ultimately, sealing up the holes can help the snake move along to somewhere else in your yard that may be in a less central location.
There are a few simple ways to make your yard less inviting to snakes overall.
Or course, it's possible to avoid the issue of snake holes by being proactive with your lawn to remove conditions that make it more likely for them—or their rodent prey—to move in.
"Firewood, rock piles, and stacked tiles, tin siding, or plywood literally create snake mansions. Many properties also have sheds that are raised slightly above-ground, creating a few inches of perfectly snakey crawl space underneath," Emily Taylor, PhD, a professor of biological science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and owner of Central Coast Snake Services, wrote in a Medium post.
Sometimes, staying on top of simple lawn chores can go a long way in solving the problem. "A yard that is unattractive to snakes—especially the venomous ones—has the following characteristics: the grass is kept mowed; plants chosen for landscaping are 'spindly' rather than bushy so that they cast little shade and you can easily see the base of the bush; firewood is stored on a table or other platform elevated a few feet above the ground, with no debris piles; and snakes cannot crawl underneath the buildings because they are flush with the ground or because access under porches or into crawl spaces is blocked off," Taylor suggests.