General Question

lovelace's avatar

How do I keep these small little snakes out of my backyard and out of my pool?

Asked by lovelace (199 points ) May 19th, 2012 from iPhone

My husband handled the yard work and each week he finds a snake or two in the pool traps. Usually they are dead but occasionally he has to kill them. Today he actually found 2 in the trap and one in the pool swimming around! I’m completely horrified! Although he tells me that the snakes are always very small (5–6”), I’m concerned about whether they’re babies or if they’re just garden snakes. I have no clue. Somebody with a pool please help! We just bought this house in September and I don’t want to leave but I also don’t want to pay for a house that I can’t enjoy!

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29 Answers

Coloma's avatar

They are most likely harmless little garter snakes which are attracted to water because they eat small frogs, minnows and other insects. You CAN’T keep them away and killing them is so not cool. They are harmless to you and very beneficial to the environment. Sorry, but you need to educate yourselves instead of wantonly killing something because you are IGNORANT and intolerant of other life forms.

Any trapped snakes should be released not killed. HELLO…you SHARE the planet with other living creatures and your pool s a water source that certain small animals will capitalize on.
I have a hot tub and have tons of little tree frogs under the cover all the time. I am careful to move them and would never think of killing them.
Sorry to sound harsh but I have zero tolerance for people that kill harmless wildlife.

Trillian's avatar

How ‘bout a picture of one of the actual snakes? Or a description at the very least?

lovelace's avatar

I don’t mind you sounding harsh. If that’s your passion, that’s just what it is. However, I won’t be capturing any snakes and setting them free. My goal is not to kill them but rather to make my yard unattractive for them so that they go to other places where people may be more tolerant.

bkcunningham's avatar

I hate snakes and would never be able to kill one. I would have someone else do it for me. Is your pool an inground or above ground pool? I’m wondering if you disturbed a nest when you set the pool up for use. Could that be the case here?

lovelace's avatar

It’s in ground and it’s been here. It was already here when we bought the house.

lovelace's avatar

By the way, I’m terrified of snakes and can’t even bare to see them on television. My husband is the person who has to handle that for me.

bkcunningham's avatar

I use to put out mothballs to keep the snakes out of my yard. You have to be careful with mothballs though. My sister put them under a shed floor to keep the snakes out and a litter of stray kittens played with the mothballs and then licked their paws. The entire litter of kittens had to be put to sleep.

WestRiverrat's avatar

You can’t really keep the snakes out unless you want to get a mongoose or a honey badger as a pet, neither of which makes a good pet.

syz's avatar

Why would you kill them?

The only real way to reduce the number is snakes in your yard is to cut away any brush, remove any woodpiles, and keep the grass mowed.

bkcunningham's avatar

@syz, we have a neighborhood black snake. Everyone lives on a a golf course which is mowed daily and we all keep our yards trimmed weekly. No debris, no brush, no woodpiles…I think that damn snake lives under my air-conditioning unit. I have been warned by my neighbors to leave that black snake alone. If it was a poisonous snake, it would be dead. As to @lovelace‘s problem, who wants to swim with little snakes? Not me. I have a live and let live mentality, except when it comes to snakes. Ugh. I hate them.

FluffyChicken's avatar

Poor snakes! What kind are they? It would be beneficial both to them and to you to cover the pool. Other than the pool, why is it important to keep them out of the yard? Just because of your phobia? Most snakes are completely harmless, and they kill pests. If you don’t want them around at all, don’t give them a place to hide. That means having very little in your yard. Get rid of tall grass, and any bushes and shrubs. Also any logs or large stones. But maybe, just maybe, you are being handed an opportunity to overcome irrational fears.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

They’re puny little animals. Don’t let the slither get to you.

digitalimpression's avatar

Garter snakes have been known to slither into pools of water to escape predators. If you’re in a wooded area keep the brush cleared back, lawn mowed, and look for signs of a “den”. Den’s of garter snakes can have up to 30 snakes in them apparently.

Either way, they are pretty harmless. I’ve also heard that they can kill off more dangerous types of snakes.

gailcalled's avatar

Unless you live in an apartment house or high-rise with no lawns, shrubs, bushes or flower gardens, you are going to have critters.

Rip up your landscaping and your pool and put down crushed oyster shells or gravel; that should work.

“The habitat of the garter snake ranges from forests, fields, and prairies to streams, wetlands, meadows, marshes, and ponds, and it is often found near water. It is a semi-aquatic animal like most snakes. It is found at altitudes from sea level to mountain locations.

Their diet consists mainly of amphibians and earthworms, but also fish, small birds, and rodents. Garter snakes are effective at catching fast-moving creatures like fish and tadpoles. Animals that eat the Common Garter Snake include large fish (such as bass and catfish), bullfrogs, snapping turtles, larger snakes, hawks, raccoons, foxes, wild turkeys and domestic cats and dogs.” Source

We have a much greater cause to worry over the Lyme tick (and some mosquitoes) but there is no way of eliminating them, short of living indoors.

lovelace's avatar

Thanks to the few helpful answers I’ve received. For those of you trying to “fight the power”, you can hang it up. I’m not accepting snakes of any kind in my pool or in my yard.

Coloma's avatar

@lovelace That’s certainly your choice but I think you can find a way to not kill them. Bad snake karma for you. I live in rattlesnake land over here in the Northern Ca. Sierra Mountain foothills. In over 20 years I have only had to kill one Rattlesnake that was threatening my cat. Infact, my cat brought in a Garter snake last night and I just picked it up and put it back out.

You wouldn’t last a day on my 5 acres full of snakes and lizards and frogs. Oh, and Mountain Lions too. We all blend just fine. lol

gailcalled's avatar

@lovelace: Don’t tell us. Alert the snakes.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I too live in rattlesnake country, which is why I leave the 4 foot bull snake that lives under my garden shed alone. Bull snakes will kill and eat rattlesnakes.

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cazzie's avatar

How do you feel about birds of prey? Domestic cats actually kill small snakes and pose the biggest threat to garter snakes in housing areas. There is a threatened species of garter snake called the San Francisco garter so make sure you aren’t killing that one. Natural preditors such as mink, badger, raccoon… You could get a ferret or two and teach them to hunt.

As for your pool, they are probably attracted to the vibration they feel from the pump. Is there anyway you can turn your pump off and see if they stop coming?

Depending on where you live, this may just be a spring thing and you won’t notice any more for the rest of the summer. Talk to your neighbours and ask them if they have a similar problem and how they cope with it.

Just remember, the snakes are there for a reason. Perhaps they are keeping the frog population in check or the crickets or grasshoppers. If you exterminate the snakes, some other creature will take its place and make your life miserable.

My father was an ecologist of sorts, and he told me that how ever distasteful I may find an animal, it holds an important place as a link in the long chain of life. Taking one of the links out of that chain and the chain is broken. If my dad didn’t have a good answer, we would call one of the biologists at the DNR. Give your local department of natural resources (or what every local body is similar) and tell them of your ‘problem’. It may be an issue they are already noticing that is linked to a disturbed known nesting place that has become a building site or some such thing, but they are bound to have some suggestions or can refer you to some more information.

gailcalled's avatar

@cazzie; Well-said.

@lovelace: If you stock your pool with bass and catfish, they will eat the snakes.

Paradox25's avatar

Like someone said above, keep your grass short and control any other wild growth such as weeds/shrubs. I don’t what country/state you live in so I’m not sure what kind of snakes they could be. Copperheads can be attracted to water too (as I’ve learnt), but their bites are rarely fatal. I’m not afraid of snakes in any way, but I can understand your fear since I’m afraid of wasps and hornets. Personally I wish I could think of a way to keep the wasps from bugging me when I’m in my pool.

Sunnybunny's avatar

Why don’t you just call an exterminator? Someone professional can look at your yard and tell you what to do to make it less attractive to the snakes and might also have options for getting rid of the snakes that are already there. I don’t know how effective it will be but it’s probably going to get you more answers than asking people who can’t see what kind of area you’re talking about and don’t even know what part of the country you’re in.

And just so you know, if you’re in North America you can easily tell if a snake is venomous. Look at the eyes and if the pupil is like a cat’s the snake is venomous. If the pupil is round the snake is harmless. If they aren’t garter snakes but are baby rat snakes or something like that they are actually much better to have around than the destructive and disease carrying animals they eat. Wouldn’t it be kind of funny if you kill off all the snakes and then develop a rat problem? I’d sure be laughing.

bkcunningham's avatar

IThe problem is so intense she can’t use the pool because she has snakes swimming around in it. If the snakes are there because they are eating rats, she has a rat problem anyway. That’s just MHO.

Sunnybunny's avatar

The snakes she described are way too small to eat rats. Snakes that aren’t venomous have to be choosy of prey that can fight back, and a tiny little non-venomous thing isn’t going to go after a rat or even a mouse. Maybe a slug or earthworm. If they get bigger and need bigger prey they will simply move to where they can find it.

There’s nothing to be lost from at least attempting to be rational. If her husband can catch and kill the snakes, he can certainly just catch and release in another area. I hope they don’t have kids to set such a horrible example for.

bkcunningham's avatar

Sorry. You were the one who brought up the rats. I don’t see anything wrong with killing snakes on my own property, whether the killing is being done by a human or by another predator.

cazzie's avatar

She finds one or two in the pool a day. She has a phobia about snakes, regardless of what type they are, so that is a mute point. She won’t get close enough to them to identify them, even when they are dead. She has her husband remove them. It is hardly an infestation, but rather, we are trying to ease her fears. I would be very happy if she could have her husband identify what type of snake it is, so we can better advise her.

This is her first spring in the house. It seems to me that this is a spring phenomena. Garter snakes are rather randy when they first emerge in the spring. They mate in great big orgies and then they are hungry. They don’t eat rats when they are so small, but they do eat snails, which is a good thing. Snails make a mess of a garden. I was wrong about crickets and grasshoppers. Garter snakes don’t eat insects. When they are small they will eat baby mice when they find them in nests in the spring and as they grow, they will eat larger mice. They like water because they will swim and eat baby fish (fry) and tadpoles, so they are attracted to the water in the pool, but then can’t get out.

I wonder if they are smart enough to use some sort of bridge or ramp and if they put that in the pool, they could find their way out. I imagine them getting in the pool, looking for food, and then feeling the chemicals and wanting to get out and they probably swim against the perimeter, but only running into the steep side with no way out. If they float something long, somewhat wide and flat, making a ‘snake ramp’, the snakes could wriggle out and be on their way.

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