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How can I snake proof my home?

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In recent weeks, the reported number of rattlesnake encounters throughout Utah has increased. In addition to having snakes show up in yards, county Extension offices have reported calls from concerned homeowners about snakes appearing in houses.

The increased visibility of rattlesnakes can be attributed to several factors. In some cases, the snakes' traditional habitats have been disturbed. These disturbances include housing developments, drought and fire. Loss of habitat means loss of prey. Snakes' movements may increase as they search for suitable habitats and prey.

In some cases, human dwellings on the foothill ranges can provide rattlesnakes with suitable habitat alternatives. Dense shrubs, wood piles, debris and man-made structures not only afford snakes good cover and concealment, but a readily available prey source of mice, ground squirrels and prairie dogs.

There are no repellents or toxins registered to control snakes. All snakes, including rattlesnakes, are protected by state law. The best method of snake proofing your home is to make the habitat unattractive to snakes. Consider these tips.

* Keep lawns mowed and weeds and other vegetation trimmed.
* Remove potential snake and prey hiding places such as wood piles, rock piles and debris. If you have a mouse problem and live in areas inhabited by rattlesnakes, chances are high that you will also have a snake problem.
* Seal foundation cracks with caulk or concrete mortar. Pay special attention to areas where pipes or wires enter buildings. This will prevent snakes from entering in search of food and shelter.
* Contact your local Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer if snakes frequent your area. They can assist youn in removing the reptiles.

Utah is home to 31 species of snakes. Of those 31 species, only seven are venomous. Therefore, if you see a snake, the chances of it being venomous are not extremely high. However, if you live, work or play in areas of Utah inhabited by venomous snakes, you should exercise caution.

Posted on 26 Jul 2001

Terry Messmer
Professor & Wildlife Resource Specialist

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