Snakes in the House and in Richmnd Homes and Yards

Legend has it that Saint Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. We could use a guy like that! There is no other animal that creates the panic, in otherwise reasonable people, that snakes do. There is a lot of bad information out there about snakes. Here are the facts:

Poisonous Snakes

The only poisonous snake you will run into in the Richmond area is the copperhead. We do have rattlesnakes in Virginia, both in the mountains and along the coast, but not around here. On rare occasions a cottonmouth (water moccasin) turns up in southern Chesterfield County, but this is very uncommon.

Snakes in buildings

Snakes do sometimes enter buildings. They usually stay in the crawl space, basement, or attic, but do occasionally come up into the house itself. Of the snakes that enter buildings, the vast majority are black rat snakes (“black snakes”), probably due to the fact that entering most buildings requires some vertical climbing, at which rat snakes are superb. Why snakes come in: Usually it will be for one of these reasons:

1) There is something to eat in the building. Usually this means mice, but it may also be birds, bats, lizards, large insects, etc. If the snake does find a good meal, it may stay for a week or so, and will make regular return trips.

2) To explore. Even if no prey species are present, a snake commonly scouts out the various hiding places within its home range (generally 10-50 acres) to see what it can find.

3) To shed its skin. The process of shedding the skin leaves the snake with limited eyesight for a day or so, just prior to the old skin actually coming off. This makes it vulnerable to predators, so it makes sense to seek out a safe place (such as a crawl space or attic) for a day or two while the shedding takes place.

4) As a temporary refuge to escape from a predator, rain, the hot sun, etc.

What to do: Snakes entering buildings are generally dealt with by:

1) Eliminating any prey species (mice, etc.) which are present.

2) To the extent possible, snake entry points into the building are found and sealed. Since black snakes are capable climbers, the roofline and upper portions of the building need to be included in this seal-up effort.

Removing snakes

It would be great if we could just come out, find the snake, and take it away, but it is seldom that easy. While we certainly will search for snakes, actually finding one is more a function of luck than skill. Why? Most of the time the snake is either long gone, or is hidden in an inaccessible part of the building. Looking for a snake is like looking for a needle in a haystack, except that we only have part of the haystack to search, the needle can move at any time, and the needle may, in fact, not even be in the haystack anymore!

Snakes outside

Again, the majority of calls we get for snakes in yards are black snakes. We get many calls for “copperheads,” but most turn out to be cases of mistaken identity. A few do turn out to be actual copperheads. Keep in mind that most snakes range over a 10-50 acre area, so the snake in your yard is either passing through, or has taken up temporary refuge while making the rounds.

What works:

1) Snake Away repellent. Used properly, this product will keep the majority of snakes out of the treated area. It is not magic, and will not keep out every snake in every situation. It needs to be reapplied every three months.

2) Removing large piles of firewood, stones, boards, brush, etc, or, in the least, moving these piles to the outer edges of the property. These piles serve as refuges for the snakes and as homes for small rodents, which attract snakes.

Not recommended:

1) Relying on the expectation that the snake can be found and removed. As stated above, this is not all that likely to happen. Even if it does happen, there are other snakes around which can come into the area at will.

2) Moth balls and/or sulfur. Actually both have some repellent abilities when it comes to snakes, but Snake Away works much better.

3) Drastic landscape changes. A lot of published advice for discouraging snakes focuses on “eliminating places snakes can hide.” This would be great advice if it was even remotely practical. Short of bringing in a bulldozer or flamethrower, there is no practical way to accomplish this. Get rid of the big piles or debris (as above), and try to minimize dense overgrowth, especially close to the house, but do not drastically alter your landscaping or think that you need to live in a moonscape.

 

Unrealistic expectations

Short of divine intervention (which brings us back to Saint Patrick) there is no way to absolutely assure that any area will be snake-free.

Testimonials

Marilyn
6/15/2021
Brendan is always good and he is friendly.thank you
Richard
6/11/2021
Y’all were responsive & personable… & caught 4 critters that were doing damage digging up our lawn. Thanks.
Sally
6/11/2021
Thanks for taking care of our "critters" so quickly and efficiently. It's not a job I want any part of, but I'm glad you are good at it!
Bill
6/11/2021
They did a really good job, very professional and courteous.
Lee
6/10/2021
Terrance showed up when he said he would and did a great job. Thank you for the help.
SMK Trust
6/10/2021
Excellent work. Kept us informed throughout and helped us control the problem.
Marshall
6/10/2021
Chris is great , courteous and professional
Bob
6/10/2021
Prompt service,very nice on phone.Glad to know about Crittercontrol.
Mica
6/10/2021
My whole interaction with Critter Control was very satisfying from making the appointment to Chris' 2 visits. He diagnosed the issue and returned several days later to finish the job with a creative solution. Many thanks!
Nancy
6/10/2021
Chris is excellent! He eliminated the flying squirrels and bats from our new home. He’s always professional and polite.
Brian
6/10/2021
Terry did a great job with the initial bird removal and covering up the hole where the birds had nested afterwards. He was also very polite and explained everything that he was doing. I couldn't ask for a better experience.
Bethany
6/10/2021
Great crew and service!
Phyllis
6/9/2021
Critter Control was EXCELLENT in helping us get an iguana out of our attic! The technician was polite, friendly and very responsible! He explained what he was doing and what had to be done to ensure success in removing the iguana. I would hire Critter Control again without hesitation. Thanks Critter Control for helping us!
Heather
6/3/2021
Thank you!..always on top of it!
Robert
6/2/2021
Great service to secure our home. We had a new roof installed but they never did Rescreen the vents to keep the critters out of the house. Nice job Brandon.
Daryl
6/2/2021
Thanks
Laura
6/2/2021
Chris is amazing!
Paul
6/2/2021
Great job on the screening and thank you for checking on the traps daily!
Michael
6/2/2021
Service Tech was excellent.
Olga
6/2/2021
Thank you very much!
Joann
6/2/2021
I appreciated the help from the men who came to take care of my raccoon problem. They both were friendly and professional. Thank you! Jo Ann Rayner
SMK Trust
6/2/2021
Very professional and kept us informed throughout the process.
Teri
5/21/2021
Dependable, good job!
Bill
5/19/2021
I was very satisfied with there service. They quickly responded to my request and captured the animal that was destroying my garden. Totally professional.
Renee
5/18/2021
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Bert
5/11/2021
CC did a very good job.
Erik
5/4/2021
Professional and friendly
Sara
5/4/2021
Excellent customer service! Last week we realized a family of cute birds were nesting in our roof soffit. The nest was right above our deck, and they were getting aggressive with our dogs and us. A super friendly service coordinator answered the phone right away. She was able to get us scheduled for the next day. The tech showed up on time, in a freak April snowstorm! He quickly addressed the issue, thoroughly explained what he did and when he would be back. He showed up right on time again, made sure our squatting birds were gone for good and completed the permanent fix where they were accessing the soffit. Probably one of the easiest service calls we’ve ever had! Thank you!
Dawn
5/4/2021
We had a nuisance woodpecker driving us insane drumming on the metal chimney cap. We called Brittni and she provided detailed information over the phone as to estimated costs and methods used. She promptly followed up everything with a detailed email. Scheduling was easy. Terrance was on-time and very pleasant to work with. He inspected the chimney for damage and for evidence of nests = none found! He installed two deterrents and wa on his way! Highly recommend!
Mark
5/1/2021
Very professional service, wonderful people, pricey
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