Snakes in your home, garden or rock piles? Those slithering serpents are probably harmless. Critter Control can help you deal with snakes in a humane and rational way. If you see a snake and are concerned, call Critter Control at 800 CRITTER and our trained technicians can oftentimes catch the snake if it is still there. Description Snakes are scaly, legless reptiles that slither across the ground and constantly taste the air by flicking out their forked tongues. Some types are venomous, such as rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, and coral snakes. Most species of venomous snakes are pit vipers, which can navigate their environment and hunt using infrared-sensing receptors that allow them to detect the heat of their prey. The majority of snakes found in the United States are not dangerous and are in fact quite beneficial, such as the common eastern garter snake, which preys upon small rodents like mice and rats. Snakes also bask in the sunlight on warm days, since, as cold-blooded animals, they rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. Appearance Venomous and non-venomous snakes have differing characteristics, which makes them easy to distinguish. All venomous vipers have triangle-shaped heads and pits between their eyes and nostrils containing infrared-sensing organs. Most venomous species also have elliptical-shaped pupils as opposed to the round pupils found in other snakes. Western rattlesnakes are easy to identify due to the distinctive rattle at the end of their tail, which they shake when threatened to warn of their presence. Eastern garter snakes are non-venomous and therefore have narrow heads and lack the extra sensory receptors of pit vipers. They are typically black in color with three bright yellow stripes running the length of their bodies. Some snakes may grow several feet in length, while others can be quite small, never reaching more than a few inches. Habitat Almost all snakes adapt to suit specific habitats, and most have certain requirements that dictate where they prefer to live. Most species live in dark, damp areas with plenty of cover, such as in wood piles, un-mowed lawns with tall grass, beneath overgrown shrubbery, near pond banks, within heavily mulched flower beds, or even in unkempt basements. Snakes will also occasionally occupy the abandoned burrows of other small animals. Some types of snakes live among trees or in the ocean. As carnivorous predators, snakes prefer to live near places with abundant rodent or insect populations. Entry Are snakes known to enter homes or yards? Snakes enter homes and yards in search of food or sheltered places to hibernate for the winter. Areas that attract rodents, such as houses, barns, commercial food processing centers, and gardens, also attract snakes. Dark, damp places in yards such as piles of lumber, discarded tires, and loose rocks all make suitable hiding places for snakes, who retreat to safety to digest after catching a promising meal. Damage Do snakes harm people or property? Generally, the most harm snakes ever do is frighten people. Snakes may bite if cornered or grabbed, though only the bites of venomous snakes are dangerous. The reptiles do not attack humans, and non-venomous bites do little more than produce a painful puncture wound. The bites of venomous snakes, however, can be lethal if not treated immediately. Vipers strike out quickly at people who come too close and startle them or attempt to grab and handle them, injecting venom through needle-like fangs that causes immediate swelling and pain. Despite the unpleasant side effects, lethal snake bites are one of the least common causes of death in the United States. Snakes do not cause damage to property. Control and Safety The best way to control snake populations is to remove potential sources of food and shelter. Clearing yards of refuse piles and frequently mowing grass helps discourage snakes from making their homes in residential lawns. Sealing up cracks and gaps along exterior walls with fine mesh or caulk also proves effective. To eliminate potential food sources, take steps to control rodent and insect populations, such as maintaining clean living spaces and storing food in rodent-proof containers. In areas with high native snake populations, snake-proof fences may be erected to keep the slithery pests away from children in play areas, though enclosing entire yards with snake-proof fencing often proves prohibitively expensive. Trapping and Removal In most states, non-venomous snakes are protected from indiscriminate killing. Contact the experienced wildlife professionals at Critter Control to take care of dangerous or problematic snakes, and never handle the heads of freshly killed venomous snakes, as they may still be able to inject venom through a bite reflex which lingers for a short period of time. We can help you get rid of snake problems. Call today: 1.800.274.8837.