SNAKES AFTER A STORM OR FLOOD


General

Many snakes, like other residents in the path of a major storm, become displaced and left homeless. As a result, snakes may seek shelter and food in areas close to people. Some of these areas include the inside of houses, storage sheds, barns, and other buildings. Damaged structures have a higher probability of attracting snakes due to the many accessible entrances. In addition, displaced snakes may also be found under debris scattered by the storm or in debris piles created during the cleanup effort. It's important to realize that both poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes are beneficial to people because they help control rodents, which are also displaced by storms. Black rat snake
Black Rat Snake

Tips for working in areas where snakes may be found

Outdoors:

  • Wear heavy work gloves and snake-proof boots (at least 10 inches high) or snake leggings when working in areas of heavy debris where snakes are likely to be found.
  • Watch where you place your hands and feet when removing or cleaning debris. If possible, don't place your fingers in/under debris piles that have sat for any length of time without first checking for snakes.
  • Never step over logs or other obstacles unless you can see the other side.
  • Watch for snakes sunning on fallen trees, limbs, and other debris.
  • If you encounter a snake, step back and allow the animal to proceed on its way. Snakes are usually not fast-moving animals and you should be able to move away from the snake's path.

Indoors:

  • If you find a snake in your house, don't panic; try to confine the snake to a small area of the house.
  • Nonpoisonous snakes can be captured by pinning the snake down with a long stick or pole, preferably forked at one end, and then removed by scooping up with a snow or flat-blade shovel.
  • If you are uncomfortable about removing the snake yourself, try to get help from someone within your community who has experience handling snakes.
  • As a last resort, you may need to kill a poisonous snake. Club it with a long stick, rod, or other tool. Never attempt to kill a poisonous snake with an instrument that brings you within the snake's striking range (usually estimated at less than one-half the total length of the snake). A pistol or rifle may seem to be a simple way to get rid of snake, but discharging a firearm in or around areas where people are cleaning up storm debris is dangerous and potentially lethal.
  • All openings around the house a quarter-inch and larger should be sealed to exclude snakes. Check areas such as corners of doors and windows, around water pipes, and electrical service entrances. Holes in masonry foundations should be sealed with mortar to exclude snakes. Holes in wooden buildings can be sealed with fine 1/8-inch mesh hardware cloth and/or sheet metal.
  • Remove debris from around the house as soon as possible. Such clutter attracts rodents that snakes feed on and also provides shelter for the snakes. Vegetation around the foundation should be kept closely mowed.
  • There are no pesticides that can be used legally to kill snakes. Repellents and traps work with limited success.

Finally

  • If you are bitten by a poisonous snake, don't try to treat the bite yourself. Go to the nearest hospital (or physician) for treatment immediately. Try to make a mental note of the appearance of the snake for identification and treatment purposes. Snake-bite kits are helpful, but they are best used by trained medical personnel.
  • Learn to identify nonpoisonous and poisonous snakes. Information on snake identification can be obtained from your county Extension office or from your state's wildlife department.

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